How many times will the average person change jobs have in their lifetime? I have to admit being somewhat amazed when I went looking for the answer.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics published a report in July of 2012 that tracked baby boomers born between 1957 and 1964. The report states that from the ages of 18 to 46, these individuals held an average of 11.3 jobs, a job being defined as an uninterrupted period of work with an employer. Men held slightly more jobs (11.4), while women held slightly less (10.7).
The news gets even more staggering for Millennials (those born between 1977-1997). A Forbes article published in 2012 states 91% of those surveyed expect to stay at a job for less than three years. That would put their job total between 15 and 20 during their adult working life.
I certainly don’t fit into either of these molds, having only worked three jobs in my post-college adult life: 1) one year as a construction worker; 2) one year as a sporting goods sales associate; and 3) 16 years in education as a teacher and principal. So my average job length is six years, but you can see that figure is a bit misleading when trying to determine what career has been most important in my life.
I’ve always been a creature of habit, so figuring out when to change jobs has always been a challenge. I shudder to think about making the “should-I-take-a-new-job” decision 10+ times in my life. Because I don’t like change simply for change sake, something would really have to motivate me to look at a new job offer.
Reasons That Reveal When to Change Jobs
Here are 10 such circumstances that might help you decide when to change jobs:
1. When there would be a significant upward change in salary and benefits.
While very important to consider, I believe this to be the most insignificant reason to change jobs on this list. Yes, the allure of more money and an upwardly mobile career is very enticing. However, there are simply too many other factors and unknowns worthy of consideration when making a job switch. The money should be a consideration but I wouldn’t change ONLY for that reason.
2. When more is continually demanded, yet salary does not increase.
This reason represents a bigger money related issue than simply wanting a higher salary – it’s about company ethics. Employers should treat their employees honorably and pay them based on the amount of work they perform. Employees will feel taken advantage of if they are being asked to work longer hours and handle more responsibility without compensation being adjusted to reflect that effort.
3. When the demands of the job create more stress than it’s worth.
No job is stress free. All employees must find ways to cope with the job requirements. That’s part of the deal. However, if the stress begins to cause mental or physical health issues it may be time to move on.
4. When you are in conflict with co-workers or the company’s values and direction.
It would seem an employee would know the values of the company and the direction it’s headed before they accept the position. That’s not always the case as only so much can be learned through the interview process. It’s possible the employee couldn’t get a clear read on those issues but accepted the position for some reason anyway.
This could also play out on the other end for the employee with a long tenure at the company. It may be difficult to get behind a new leader pushing new initiatives. The company mission you once knew and loved has changed and you are finding it difficult to place your faith in the new direction. This would most likely lead to conflict with leadership and co-workers if you stayed.
5. When the company’s failures are risking closure or bankruptcy.
This might be tough to spot, especially if an employee doesn’t have much access to those on the leadership team. However, there can still be signs that a company is in trouble. Layoffs, supply cutbacks, dissolved partnerships and missing out on contracts could all be signs the company isn’t firing on all cylinders. Everyone wants to be seen as loyal and not labeled a deserter at the first sign of trouble. You also don’t want to go all the way down with the ship.
6. When unethical behavior is evident.
Of all the reasons listed here, this is the only one where I wouldn’t hesitate to leave no matter what else was going on in my life or at the company. A culture that defrauds customers, condones lying, engages in verbally abusive language or looks the other way at sexual harassment is a danger zone. If you see this happening, it’s time to steer clear and find a more honorable workplace.
7. When family goals or priorities change.
I’m of the opinion that work is secondary to family life. So many changes occur as young adults get married and then begin to have children. What the plans are when the kids are three might not be the same when they are teens. Work priorities can begin to look quite different when a person has a spouse or children’s priorities to consider.
8. When your knowledge outgrows the position.
If you’ve continued to grow and learn new skills, there may come a time when the job is no longer challenging. It can be terribly frustrating to feel your talents aren’t being used to their full potential. In that scenario, an employee who chose to remain in their position would have to find alternative ways to stay motivated. If unable to, it’s best to take those talents elsewhere.
9. When you’ve lost your passion or found a new one.
Passions come and go as we progress through life and there is nothing wrong with that. What drives us today may not five years from now. We spend so many years of our adult lives in the workforce, it would be sad to endure those in a place that didn’t peak your interest or line up with a passion.
For this reason, it might be a good idea to consider furthering your education should you find yourself in a similar rut. For example, if your current career has grown stale and you want to pursue a career in education, earning an Accelerated Teacher Certificate from an online university will provide you with the certification needed to start teaching. Likewise, if you already work in a criminal justice field, but are looking for a new challenge, you could always earn a Post Master’s Certificate in Homeland Security, which could make you eligible for jobs with national security agencies.
10. When you’ve accomplished all you can.
There simply may be nothing left for a person to accomplish at his or her current job. They’ve seen projects through, moved the company forward and cemented their legacy in the organization. Without a new agenda and something worthwhile to accomplish, there may be no point in staying.
As I mentioned, only reason #6 on this list stands alone as an absolute, sure-fire reason to leave a company. In most circumstances, there will be a combination of reasons that helps someone decide when to change jobs. The more reasons present on someone’s list of issues, the more likely it’s time to move on.
Questions: What other reasons could help you know when to change jobs? Would money ever help you figure out when to change jobs? Would you stay at a job that didn’t line up with your passion? Anyone stayed with a company until it closed? Why are people changing jobs so much?
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