The Walking Dead: How Changing Jobs Can Revive Your Career
Beware: There are zombies in the workplace. Are you one of them?
If you’re a ‘Dead Head’, simply roaming through your daily work, you need to revitalize. Often a job change is the best way to resurrect yourself and your career.
We all know changing jobs is stressful. As traumatic as leaving can be, staying can be worse.
The simple truth is that you may only be able to find your real potential by moving on. In extreme cases, a move may save your emotional well-being.
The Strategy Behind Job Change
The first 10 years of our careers are all about building a career foundation. Every foundation is built with the “Three E’s” – Education, Experience and Exposure. The better, stronger and more varied the Three E’s are, the better, stronger and more varied are our opportunities.
There are many deeply personal reasons to change your employment situation. However, from a purely strategic point of view, there are four good reasons to change jobs within the same (or similar) industry three times during your first ten years of employment.
- Broader Experience. Changing jobs gives you a broader base of experience. After about three years, you’ve learned most of what you’re going to know about how to do your job. Therefore, over a ten-year period, you gain more experience from “3 x 90 percent” than “1x 100%.”
- Increased Demand. A more varied background creates a greater demand for your skills. Depth of experience means you’re more valuable to a larger number of employers. You’re not only familiar with your current company’s product, service, procedures, quality programs, inventory system, and so forth; you bring with you the expertise you’ve gained from your prior employment with other companies.
- Promotions. A job change results in an accelerated promotion cycle. Each time you make a change, you bump up a notch on the promotion ladder. You jump, for example, from staff accountant to senior accountant; or audit senior to audit manager.
- Bigger Paycheck. More responsibility leads to greater earning power. A promotion is usually accompanied by a salary increase. And since you’re being promoted faster, your salary grows at a quicker pace, sort of like compounding the interest you’d earn on a certificate of deposit.
Not All Firms Are Created Equal
The same job in a different firm can offer new skills, more money and alter your career path. A more varied resume creates a greater demand for your skills.
Bigger isn’t always better. Let’s say you’re working at one of the Big Four. Your skills are highly specialized, but you want broader responsibilities. A smaller firm would provide you with the chance to learn more, develop stronger client and management skills and perhaps put you on the track to partner faster! Initially, you may take a pay cut to move into a smaller firm, but you may find greater personal satisfaction and, in the long run, greater financial success.
Of course, there may be different opportunities within your current firm. A promotion can re-charge your professional battery. Building a rapport with your boss and communicating your desire for new and different challenges could lead to an internal promotion. However, if you find resistance from your current employer or other opportunities just don’t exist, changing jobs provides you a boost up the career ladder.
Naturally, I always tell people not to change jobs blindly. You should always be sure your new job satisfies your values. Be selective when on the hunt for a new job. Plan carefully so that your career goals are in sync with your life goals.
For instance, there’s no reason to change jobs for more money if it’ll make you unhappy to the point of distraction. In fact, I’ve found that money usually has no influence on a career decision unless it materially affects your lifestyle or self identity. To me, the “best” job is one which you truly enjoy!