How your professional growth can benefit from changing jobs every four years
Wondering how long you should stay in a job? If you want to get ahead in your career, the answer is sooner rather than later.
You find a job you love—awesome! You go to work, learn how to do your job, and get really good at doing your job—awesome again! But then what? What about your professional growth? If you’re wondering how long to stay in a job, know this: Long gone are the days when people spent their entire careers at a single company. Today, workers change jobs on average every 4.2 years, according to a recent report on employee tenure from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
You may be wondering, “But what about job hopping?” What about it? The median tenure of workers ages 25 to 34 years old is 2.8 years, compared to 10.1 years for workers ages 55 to 64. Switching jobs sooner rather than later is not necessarily a bad thing, career experts say. In fact, it’s a really good thing.
“Change is fast in today’s workplace,” says Thea Kelley, a job search and interview coach in San Francisco. “Skills change, companies change, jobs disappear.” When it’s obvious that you’ve graduated from your current position, look ahead to what’s next. Often, there are a handful of benefits to reap from making a change.
These are the top reasons why changing jobs (at least) once every four years can keep your career moving forward.
The grass is often greener at a new company
When there’s no more room for advancement at your company, you may hit a ceiling. When that happens, it pays to look elsewhere rather than risk hurting your professional growth.
“Oftentimes, career advancement opportunities are easier found outside your existing company just based on timing and opportunity,” says Teri DePuy, a Colorado-based career coach at ICC, Inc.
Changing jobs is good for growing your career skills
Moving to a new company helps keep your skills fresh, says career and job search coach Joanne Meehl. “You’ll be working for a new manager who will present you with new challenges about how to work with them,” she says.
Another reason to change jobs at least once every four years? “Since typically you learn the most in your first few years on a job, changing jobs can develop a broader knowledge base that makes you more marketable,” Kelley says. “You’re facing new challenges, which develops problem-solving skills.”
Technology evolves quickly
To remain a top performer in your field, you have to keep your finger on the pulse of new technologies. If you’ve been with your company for several years as a Windows systems administrator, for example, entire lines of software and hardware may be completely foreign to you.
“I’ve had clients who stayed with a company that was using outdated technology, thinking it didn’t matter because they were going to retire from that company. It turned out they were wrong, and they had a tough job search when they finally lost the job,” Kelley warns. “Riding a dinosaur can turn you into a caveman. It’s a mistake to let your skills and marketability be frozen in the past.”
Taking on new challenges makes you look better on paper
Changing jobs at least once every four years can make your resume more attractive to employers for several reasons. For one, “It says, ‘I’m willing to try new things and not get too comfortable,’” says Meehl.
Staying at the same job for a while can also make your resume look stagnant and give employers the impression that you lack drive and don’t enjoy learning new things, Kelley says.
Meehl agrees. “Candidates who have not changed jobs in a decade or more run the risk of being considered stuck and afraid of change, and perhaps even ‘wedded to the company,’” she says.
Job hunting is a great learning experience in itself
You can gain valuable lessons just from searching for jobs. “The process of job hunting can encourage better career management by making you pay attention to your online presence, your overall visibility, and networking,” Kelley says. “This keeps you agile and ready to move on.” It’s smart overall because you never know when an awesome opportunity may present itself and you may want to (or have to) change jobs.
New jobs keep you engaged
No one wants a boring job, but boredom often sets in over time, regardless of what it is you do.
“Usually it’s at the three-year mark that people realize they have done everything the job requires and then some, and done it well,” Meehl says. “I tell clients that when they reach this point, they’ll know it because now everything seems so easy.” At that juncture, changing jobs can reignite your passion and make you feel more committed to your work.
Now see what’s out there—free of charge
If it’s been a while since you’ve considered checking out other jobs, there’s nothing to lose by looking. In need of a professional growth spurt? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can get job alerts emailed right to your inbox, which cuts down on the amount of time you’d spend combing through ads. Additionally, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to different types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates. And in case you didn't catch this the first time around: Your Monster membership is free. Get started now, otherwise you won’t know what kinds of terrific career opportunities are out there waiting for you.