It used to be the standard advice that you should stay with one employer as long as you can and be happy that you have a job. I know this because I work with mid and late career job seekers, people who grew up in world where it was normal to stay somewhere for 20 or 30 years and retire. We all know that those days are long gone, but is that a bad thing?

If you want to stay current in your skills, make more money and be happier with your career, then no, it's not a bad thing. Believe it or not, there are significant benefits to changing jobs more frequently. And by frequently, I mean about every five to seven years. I don't mean every one to two years. That’s a little quick and then you are going to look like the proverbial job hopper. You don’t want to be a job hopper, because we all know employers try to screen them out. But if you change jobs every five to seven years, most would not call that job hopping.

Here are five reasons why changing jobs every few years can actually benefit you:

  1. You learn how to job search because you do it more often. So many people I work with have been with one employer for decades, and they all say the same thing: "I’ve never job searched." Or, "I don’t have a resume, I’ve never needed one because I’ve been in the same place for 20 years." If this is you, it’s okay. I help clients with this all the time. It’s only natural that your confidence is low when you don’t do something very often. So the remedy is to do it more often. Now, with all of this, I’m not saying to change jobs just to do it. It needs to be the right decision.  But you also shouldn’t stay somewhere just because it’s easier and more familiar. What I’m advocating is this: if you are feeling the urge to leave for whatever reason, it’s okay to. As long as you have your reasons, you do stand to benefit in some ways.
  2. You are forced to stay relevant and competitive.  The more you do something, the better at it you get. Plus, when you are in a job search you are in a competitive situation. So naturally you spruce up your resume and your LinkedIn, you start networking. You start doing all those things that make you sharp and competitive. You might even get a certification or training, so you can add that to your resume. If you want to stay relevant and appealing to employers, get yourself into the job market every few years. At least do some looking, even if you don’t take the job. I think one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to stay somewhere too long and never ask yourself, “Is there life out there?” Is this still what I want? At least ask the question.
  3. You’ll make more money. Yes, that’s right. It’s been shown that people who change jobs every couple of years, earn more.  Many industry studies have shown this. Think about it: If you stay with one employer and just settle for that 3% or 4% raise each year, you’ll lose so much money in the long run, compared to changing jobs and getting often $5-10K more in your offer. Very often, job seekers get a pay bump, sometimes a big one, when they change jobs. They have the opportunity to negotiate and they are in a position of power since they have been extended an offer and don’t necessarily have to take it. However, when you are already doing the job and have been for many years, you actually don’t have as much power for negotiating. It sounds backwards, but this is how the corporate world works. Employers often take you for granted the longer you do a job and they see less reason to pay you more.
  4. You won’t get bored or complacent. Another trend that has arisien is that after about three years at a job, people start to get complacent. They get settled in their jobs and don’t take the time and effort to keep skills sharp. This isn’t true for everyone, of course, but it is for a lot of people. You get used to doing the same job day in and day out and it’s natural to become bored. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to switch companies necessarily. You can look at getting a promotion or transfer within your current organization or taking on some kind of new assignment. This might be the solution and that’s fine. But the bottom line is that you are not allowing yourself to get complacent in terms of your skill development and career growth.
  5. And lastly... You’ll grow your network. If you work for four or five organizations over the course of your career, it’s only natural that your professional network is going to be larger. What do people do when they are job searching? They network. They get back in touch with people and they start reaching out and making new connections. This has terrific long-term benefits. Plus, if you are with one employer for 25 years, all of your network is likely to be from within that company, which isn’t that beneficial when it comes time to look for something new.

For even more help on this topic, listen to the corresponding podcast here.
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