Complacency kills careers. That’s why career advancement is a top priority for most professionals.
But what is the best way to move your career forward: hopping to a new job, or growing within your current organization?
That’s the question a lot of people are facing right now, especially as the Great Resignation continues in full force. A record 4.4 million people quit their jobs in September, and the number of unfilled positions stands at 10.4 million.
There are a number of reasons why people want to make a change:
- Better hours & more flexibility (especially if switching from direct roles to contracting)
- Advancement in responsibility & leadership
- Learning new skill sets
- Greater compensation & benefits
- Ability to manage & execute more complex projects
If any of these are important to you, this blog post will walk you through whether job hopping or sticking with your current job is the best way to achieve them.
Why Career Advancement Matters
Thinking about career advancement is one way that you can set yourself apart from the crowd. Many employees focus only on their current job, or maybe are just looking ahead to the next promotion.
This kind of short-term thinking won’t help you. As you move up the ladder there are fewer opportunities available. Which means that if you want to have an upward career path, you need to intentionally take action to get there.
Now, this doesn’t mean you should always have your eye on the horizon and neglect your current responsibilities. Quite the opposite, actually!
Having clarity on where you want your career to go will help you put your current work in context. Being excellent at where you are now will only set you up for success later down the line. It also can help you figure out how to leverage your current role to grow any skills (both hard and soft) that you may be lacking.
The Career Advantages of Job Hopping
There are a few advantages that are most accessible when you job hop. Here are just a few of them:
- Moving into a new role where you can gain new skills
- Taking on more leadership responsibilities in a bigger organization
- Finding a new boss or supervisor who’s willing to invest in your career advancement
- Moving from a mid-level firm to one that’s more prestigious and has national (or international) brand recognition
The Career Advantages of Longevity
On the other hand, here are some of the growth opportunities that come from staying within your organization:
- Internal promotion opportunities
- Moving laterally within the organization or taking on more responsibilities
- Building rapport with your current boss and developing a mentoring relationship
- Taking the initiative to demonstrate leadership potential without the need for a promotion or advancement
5 Questions to Help You Choose the Best Path Forward
Now that we’ve walked through the benefits of both job hopping and longevity, here are some questions to ask that will help you figure out the best path for you.
1. Have you hit a plateau?
A sure sign that you should seek out a new job is if you’ve hit a plateau in your professional growth. Generally, this looks like the following:
- You’ve become so competent at your job that it no longer challenges you
- There’s no room for advancement within the company
- You’ve been doing the same job for more than five years
- You find yourself growing bored and dissatisfied with your work
Note that a plateau rarely happens early in your tenure. But if after several years you’re realizing that there are no opportunities to grow, you probably are better served by a new company and role.
2. Have you pursued internal growth opportunities?
If you haven’t made an effort to pursue internal growth opportunities, you may be jumping the gun by pursuing a new role. Here are some things you should try instead:
- Job shadow other employees in the company to broaden your skills
- Explore opportunities for lateral moves that broaden and deepen your experience
- See if you have a professional development budget to attend classes, workshops, and training sessions
- Seek mentorships from more senior employees
- If you believe you’re ready for added responsibility, proactively seek a promotion
Companies that value you as an employee will find a way to offer at least some of these opportunities. If not, then it’s a good sign that you need to move on to grow yourself and your career.
3. Is the problem with the company, the role, or you?
Searching for open positions on job boards can be a great knee-jerk reaction when problems at work arise. But if the problem is actually with you, then moving on isn’t going to solve anything. You’ll just take the problems with you.
So get real with yourself and ask: is the problem with the company, the role, or you? If there’s anyone you trust inside or even outside the company, ask them for their advice. Getting an outside opinion is always a good idea.
4. What strategic opportunities can another company offer?
Don’t just leave your job for kicks and giggles. If you’re going to go to another company, make sure that it strategically moves your career forward.
This is where you need to spend some time figuring out exactly what is lacking in your career right now. Is it pay? Or is there a particular skill gap you’d like to close? Maybe you want to take on more leadership responsibility?
Whatever it is, get clear and use that as your North Star as you sort through job openings. This is going to help you weed out poor fits and find the best option for your career moving forward.
5. How will this choice impact your career long-term?
You should always consider the impact that your choice may have on your career long-term. Of course, there’s no way to know for sure what’s going to happen, but it still is important to think about.
For instance, job hopping with only a couple years’ tenure in a role can be a negative sign for future hiring managers. However, staying within the same role for more than five years comes with some financial downsides.
Final Thoughts: Stay Growing, Stay Active
Even if you choose to stay in your current job, you need to always be seeking new opportunities to grow. After all, like we said earlier, complacency kills careers.
Keep finding opportunities to take on new responsibilities in challenges. Keep your LinkedIn profile and build up your personal brand online. Not only will these benefit your own career, but they can serve as an added boon to your current company.
Most importantly, you should have an idea of where you want your career to be in three, five, or even ten years. Then start considering which steps you need to take to get there, and put one foot in front of the other.
To get started on your career growth, fill out the form below and a Brightwing recruiter will reach out to advise you on the best next step.
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