The working world has turned upside down over the past twenty years, and most people don’t realize it. If they recognize that momentous changes have occurred in the talent marketplace, they haven’t adjusted their approach to managing their career accordingly. That’s dangerous!
It used to be that working for one employer for twenty or twenty-five years marked you as a stable and reliable employee – a person anyone would be happy to hire if you should be so unfortunate as to get laid off. Now it’s just the opposite. Employers are wary of hiring people who’ve worked in one job for ten years or more. They don’t think, “This person showed their loyalty by sticking with one employer for so long.” They think, “This person hasn’t learned anything new in years!”
These days, we only grow our skills and our marketability by trying new things, and staying at the same job does not give you the same opportunity to try new things that a person gets by changing assignments. We all have to keep in mind the question “Have you really had twenty years of experience — or one year, repeated twenty times?”
The question is valid, because we all fall so easily into ruts. Unless we actively seek out new challenges at work, we fall into patterns. Do you really get better at a task by performing the same task for years on end? Most people would say no. They’d say, “Your brain falls asleep when you do the same thing over and over.”
Here are ten ways it can hurt you to stay in the same job for too long. How long is too long? You have to start questioning your marketability when you hit the ten-year mark in one employer, or the five-year mark in one job.
Even if you change jobs inside the same employer, you may not get the new learning, new challenges and critical resume fodder that a person who changes employers more frequently gets. That’s a disservice to you.
1. When you stay in one job for too long, your resume won’t show the breadth of new experiences that a person accumulates by changing jobs every few years.
2. You don’t have as many professional contacts and reference-givers as a person who’s worked in several places.
3. You fall out of practice job-hunting. Knowing what kind of Business Pain you solve, who has it and what the pain costs them are all essential skills for working people.
4. You don’t get the consulting experience that more frequent job-changers get. Every time you walk into a new situation and assess the needs, consider options for fixing things and then execute the fixes, your muscles grow!
5. You fall asleep on your career. You stop asking “What would I be doing, if I weren’t working here?” You stop looking at the talents your current job doesn’t let you make use of. You fall into a routine that can’t help you, now or in the future.
6. You tune out of the activity going on outside your cubicle walls. You aren’t aware of the other employers (or clients) who could use your talents if you decided to make a change. Headhunters don’t know you or have forgotten about you, because you’ve been off the market for so long.
7. Your confidence can suffer. You can easily start to think that success means getting a good performance review. That is a very narrow definition for success.
8. A sudden change (like the disappearance of your job) can knock you to the ground and destroy your self-esteem. When you change jobs every few years (voluntarily or otherwise) you get used to picking yourself up and carrying on.
9. You start to see yourself with too narrow a focus. You forget that this is just a job. You could do lots of other things if you weren’t doing the job you’re doing now.
10. When you stay in one job for too long, you become content with too little. That’s a shame, because the world is big!
If you have fallen asleep on your career by staying in the same job for too long, you can wake yourself up. You can get a journal and start to write in it, and also begin to think about possibilities for your career beyond your current situation. Shake yourself out of your routine by taking a class about something non-business-related.
Get out to networking events where you’ll meet new people and get inspiration from them. Climb out of your rut. There are exciting things going on all around you. No job description is big enough to hold your talents and gifts. Now is a great time to grow your muscles by trying something new.