These days, a “forever” job is a rare thing.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.2 years is the median amount of time American workers remain at the same job. Long gone are the days of joining a company after college graduation and staying with it until you retire. That raises the question: How do you know when it is the right time to start a job search?
There are many legitimate reasons to make a career move and factors that motivate people to actually initiate a search. Here are some things to keep in mind when weighing whether you should pull the trigger and start sending out your resume.
What’s the business climate?
While the overall business climate in the U.S. is good with active month-to-month job creation, high corporate profits and low unemployment, these are only national averages. What matters are the particulars that most affect you as an individual.
What is going on in your own place of employment? Are sales and revenue up? Is your company rolling out innovative products and services? Are layoffs anticipated, and should you get out while the getting is good, or hope for a golden parachute or some kind of severance package?
Are you bored out of your gourd?
Have you been doing the same thing day in and day out for an extended period? Maybe it was new and exciting when you began, but now your work is mind-numbing.
If so, take the time to determine if the position you are in allows for you to take on additional, new responsibilities to position yourself for an internal promotion. Perhaps there is a policy within your company to promote from within or to build human capital by enabling you to transfer from one department to another to gain additional expertise.
[See: 8 Careers for Creative People.]
Have you hit the limit in your current company?
There may be no room in the organizational chart for a promotion, or you are blocked by the way other individuals are currently positioned. If your job clearly is at a dead end with no likelihood of a promotion, the handwriting is on the wall and it’s time for you to start writing your resume.
Have you hit the payroll ceiling?
Companies and organizations are starting to loosen up on raises after a long period of wage stagnation. Still, we are far from a “sky’s the limit” environment where employers will pay whatever it takes to retain talented individuals. Often the only way you will see a significant bump up in your compensation is by finding a new employer.
How are you getting along with your boss?
Few bosses are ideal all the time. They have their own issues and concerns, and how they manage you may not be their top priority. Still, some are clearly better than others at providing valuable insight and guidance, setting appropriate goals and providing feedback and praise when you consistently meet and exceed their expectations. The best bosses care about the career development of their subordinates and actively groom them for advancement.
Have you gained new skills that you can’t use?
Have you recognized that if you don’t continually improve your skill set, you are moving backward? Innovative software, artificial intelligence and robotics are radically transforming the way work is done in the U.S. and around the world.
If you are smart, you are keeping up with the ever-evolving technologies that affect whatever it is that you do. If your employer isn’t keeping up as well, it may be time to seek out a new employer who will value the skills you bring to the table or enable you to obtain the skills you’ll need to get ahead in the coming years.
Do your company’s values resonate with you?
Are your personal values mirrored by your company’s policies, products and services? Many companies and their CEOs are taking positions on wide-ranging cultural and political issues including health care, sexual harassment, veterans affairs, local and world hunger, early childhood education, community economic development, arts and culture, environmentalism, workforce diversity, international relief efforts and more.
At the same time, many companies remain uninvolved in issues that don’t relate specifically to their own bottom line. If your company isn’t in sync with your values, perhaps it is time to find another employer.
In sum, there is no one “right” amount of time to stay in any given position, and multiple factors will go into a decision to begin a job search. But recognize that when the time comes, it presents a range of new opportunities and beginnings that may enable you to be appropriately challenged and compensated and feel like you are contributing to an enterprise that makes you proud.
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