Think about the last terrible job you had. (For your sake, we’ll hope it’s not the one you have right now.) Why did you stay? If you’re like most of us, it was because you were afraid to give up a “sure thing.” There’s just one problem with that: most experts will tell you that job security no longer exists.
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“For many of us, the thing that keeps us firmly rooted in our jobs — our ‘safety net,’ if you will — isn’t the traditional lure of an employer pension or 401(k),” writes Kim Keating on Levo League. “It’s the idea that we should stay in a job (or field) because otherwise, we’ll end up on the street. …But in my work as a career coach, I tell people that if you’re staying where you are because you think it’s the safe move, you just might be doing the least safe thing for your career.”
Workers in the U.S. now stay at their jobs for a median of 4.4 years, thanks to a volatile job market and changing cultural expectations. While that’s nerve-wracking for folks who prefer to stay put, the good news is that switching jobs more frequently allows us to develop new skills and follow our passions — and avoid getting stuck in a career that no longer fulfills us.
“This is not your father’s job market,” writes Joe Issid at Monster.com “Long gone are the company lifers from yesteryear who spent their entire careers in a single position within a single company. Today, we’re living in an age of job promiscuity, where regularly changing jobs is not just tolerated, but encouraged.”
If you want to jump on the job change train, the best way to do it is with caution:
1. Don’t change jobs too often.
While it’s true that no one retires with their gold watch anymore, employers are still distrustful of workers who have too many gaps — or short stints — on their resumes. Try to avoid changing jobs more than once a year, or every year for long stretches.
2. Build your skill set.
Technical skills are increasingly valuable, even for workers who aren’t in geek-oriented fields. When you’re considering where you want to go next, keep an eye out for valuable skills that will move your resume to the top of the stack.
3. Don’t jump just to jump.
If you love your job, and don’t want to leave, don’t make a change for change’s sake. Keep developing your CV by acquiring new skills, and seek out responsibilities where you are. When it comes time to make a change, you’ll be able to show that you’ve been growing while staying put.
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