I’ve been asked this question many times. Answer: It depends upon your ultimate job goal and the number of steps to get there.
First, define your objective. Examples: If you want to become the CFO of a major corporation, the number of job changes is different than if your objective is to be an accountant in a small manufacturing plant. The first number could be 10 steps; the second number may be 2.
Then you need to define your expectations, which changes with each generation.
- Grandpa waited until his boss moved up or out. It could take 20 years.
- Boomers changed jobs about 2 times in their first 10 years
- Gen Xers averaged 3 job changes in 10 years
- And Millennial’s are jumping 4 times in their first 10 years.
Why is job-hopping occurring faster and faster over time? Some reasons have to do with the highs and lows of the economy, companies that see employees as disposable, and changing skills needed in technology. Many employees don’t accept loyalty to a company, but rather they are loyal to their profession or themselves. Their first job is now called an entry-point and not the start of a career.
New graduates have always been more restless than those who are already in the workforce. They want to move up the ladder quicker. One way to do that is to change jobs, either within the company or to another company. If a talented individual doesn’t see a path for advancement or isn’t engaged in a development program, there’s no reason for them to remain in place while others move around them. A second reason is status and money. A move or promotion brings a higher title and more money (maybe 20%) than smaller performance raises (maybe 1 to 4%).
In order to move up the career ladder quicker, you must:
- Accumulate knowledge, skills and abilities as rapidly as possible in each job
- Learn to excel at your current job in a shorter period of time than others
- Move up at the first chance, once you have mastered the job you’re in
So how do you manage your job change philosophy?
STEP 1 – Define your goal. But make sure you understand the impact of what you decide
STEP 2 – Define your expectations. Make sure they are realistic or you’ll be frustrated
STEP 3 – Find a model to follow: Someone who has done what you want to do
STEP 4 – Develop an initial strategy: Where do you need to be at each step, and when
STEP 5 – Get the education, certifications, experiences, skills and contacts you’ll need in order to reach your goal. Modify your career plan as you move forward.
One other caveat: The marketplace is changing daily, as is technology and new ways of doing things. Make sure you’re at the leading edge of that change in your field or your career plan isn’t worth a lot.
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