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In today’s environment, switching jobs regularly is becoming more common. According to the 2014 Jobvite Job Seeker Nation Study, 71 percent of the U.S. labor force is currently on the job market with 51 percent of employed workers saying they are either actively seeking or open to a new job.
Changing jobs frequently is also becoming more acceptable by employers according to a 2014 CareerBuilder study where 55 percent of respondents said they have hired a job-hopper and 32 percent said they expect people to job-hop.
Still deciding to quit your job is a very personal decision. Maybe you took your current job and it’s nothing like you expected, and you can’t wait to leave. Or maybe you love your job, but you’ve been there for many years and you think you need to do something different.
Whatever your personal situation is, here are some tips to help you navigate this grey area of your career.
If Your Job Isn’t What You Expected
If you’ve taken a new job and very quickly realize that it’s not what you wanted, Dolly Garlo, Certified Coach and Owner of All Thrive, recommends that you stick it out for at least a year.
“Staying for a year looks good on the resume, and it gives you the opportunity to try to get what you hoped for (like more experience in your trade) as well as the discipline to produce excellent work despite not loving your job,” she explains.
It also guarantees that you’re not doing anything rash that will affect your finances or your reputation within the industry. While you stick it out, try to find ways to make your current job as pleasant as possible until it’s time to move on.
For example, if you feel like you’re currently underutilized and spend your days trying to find ways to be productive, speak up. While you might feel that your boss should know that you don’t have enough to do, it’s your responsibility to try to resolve the situation. Maybe your boss has trouble letting go of tasks and needs to be reminded that you’re a willing and diligent team player. The more you give your company a chance to make you happy, the less likely you’ll bolt for the exit.
Another positive aspect of engaging your boss and trying to make the most of your current job is that you won’t burn any bridges. You don’t know when you’ll need recommendations or referrals, and if you’re staying within the same industry, it’s likely that you’ll encounter someone from your company again.
A great benefit of staying a year and taking ownership of your situation is that you’ll have the opportunity to develop relationships and probably acquire some of the skills that you initially took the job for.
Exceptions to the One-Year Rule
Still there are exceptions to every rule. Sometimes it’s not a good idea to stay.
“If you’ve been at a job for three months and realize that it was a bad fit to begin with, you should not stay with the company until a year is up just so you can say that you worked there a year,” says, Chaz Pitts-Kyser, Founder of Careeranista. “You could be missing out on opportunities to work and build a career within a company that better meets your needs.”
Pitts-Kyser suggests that you don’t need to put every job on your resume, that you should think of your resume as a marketing piece not a job application. “If you think having a position on your resume will look bad or draw questions, it’s best to leave it off,” she says. “Once you score an interview, you can bring up the company if you choose.”
Additionally, if a great opportunity comes along it may not come along again, so it’s a good idea to leave your current role and give your dream job your all.
If You Love Your Job, How Long Should You Stay There?
Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones and you love your job. However, it’s still important to think long-term and see how you can maximize your skill set and growth opportunities at your current company.
Jackie Jones, owner of Jones Coaching, LLC, believes that how long you stay at a job depends on a variety of factors. She explains: “Consider if longevity is valued in the industry, if there is room for growth, whether you have taken advantage of the opportunity to grow through promotion, and whether your experience is diverse enough to increase your market value to other employers.”
If you’re happy at your job, but your company can’t offer growth opportunities via a raise and promotion, you have to think about your situation and decide how much upward mobility means to you. If it means more than your happiness, it’s time to start job searching.
However, if upward mobility doesn’t mean that much to you, and job security is more important, you can take it upon yourself to expand your skills so you’ll be more marketable if you need to find a new position.
Jones says that you can approach this in two ways. First, you can invest in continuing education with conferences, workshops and classes. If your employer won’t or can’t pay for it, Jones suggests paying for it yourself as professional development expenses are tax deductible. Second, if you’re looking for more satisfaction she recommends finding freelance work or a hobby to immerse yourself in. This may end up giving your finances a boost as well.
Overstaying At a Job
If you’ve been at your job for more than five years, it’s important to understand the financial impact as well as the impact on your marketability. For example, LearnVest profiled employees who have remained at their jobs for years, and noted that salaries stopped increasing when people are in their forties.
There are other disadvantages to staying in a job for too long. For one, you won’t be familiar with the job searching or the interviewing process, which will make it that much more difficult. Secondly, hiring managers may wonder if you’ll be able to adapt to a new environment.
Stacy Madden, experienced recruiter for Naviga Business Services says that once you get a job interview, make sure that the hiring manager knows that you are adaptable, that you are not stuck in your ways and unwilling to change.
There are many considerations to take into account when deciding if you should stay at your current job or look for a new position. To succeed and to stay marketable, make the most out of your current situation by developing your skills and looking for chances to grow. At the same time, it never hurts to be open to new opportunities. This will ensure that you make the best long-term decisions for your career.