Category Archives: Employment

There’s No Shame In Switching Jobs

There's No Shame In Switching JobsThe media loves to run trend pieces about how millennials are allegedly worse than other generations in some respect. According to these articles, millennials change jobs more often and are less loyal to employers than people in other generations. Writers present a past filled with workers who dutifully stayed at the same job for 30 years and then negatively discuss millennials who not only job hop, but refuse to walk miles each way uphill for their respective employers.

These articles are mainly lazy garbage, but at this blog, we love to debunk garbage!

The Facts about Job Changes

Contrary to popular myth, people have longer tenures with companies than in the past. At 4.6 years, job tenure in 2012 (the last year for statistics) is actually longer than it was in 1983. Longevity on the job increased across age groups in the aftermath of the recent recession.

Another notable fact is that relatively frequent job changes are commonplace for young workers. A Bureau of Labor Statistics study found that later Baby Boomers (born between 1957 and 1964) held an average of 11.3 jobs by age 46. Job changes appear normal for young workers in general, not millennials in particular.

Changes Make Financial and Career Sense

Modest income growth has been the norm in recent years. Raises only averaged 3% in 2013 and 2014. If a person negotiates a raise of 5% or more at a new position, that individual just noticeably increased his or her take home pay. This fact provides an incentive for people to change jobs.

Millennials in particular need to consider job changes in order to improve their financial situations. It takes millennials 4 years longer to reach the median income for the country than it did their older baby boomer counterparts. The weight of slow income growth is an actual trend, not an exaggeration, and people need to be aware of and react to in their best interests.

Another rarely discussed fact is that people are not rewarded for a long tenure if they have to go out in the job market again. New employers simply do not view it as a good sign. They might wonder if the applicant became complacent career-wise and failed to keep his or her skills up-to-date. If a person fails to achieve a promotion after four years with any employer, it is a good idea to push for one or look for more lucrative opportunities elsewhere.

People Responding to the Job Market

While journalists point to the small percentage of people with long careers at one employer, the facts indicate that those folks were always an anomaly. Most people did not experience stints of 30+ years at a single company. People changing jobs numerous times, particularly when they are under 46, is the long-term norm, not a new trend.

All of this information points to a conclusion that millennials are assessing their work situations and making changes like their predecessors. If anything, people today are perhaps too loyal and need to consider more changes to combat slow income growth. Millennials need to ignore stories that amount to little more than “kids these days” and take a hard, objective look at how to grow their incomes in such a challenging environment. A job change is likely the sensible solution.

How To Know When It’s Time to Leave Your Job

3 Signs It's Time To Leave Your JobJust starting out in your career? An important and often overlooked element in your career development is knowing when to leave a job. Here are some signs about when it is time to find a new employer:

Problem #1 – A Long Tenure

Many articles discuss the problems with “job hopping” and in general, I agree. However, working for too long at one company actually makes you less marketable too. If you’re climbing the corporate ladder and constantly learning new skills, then you’re probably in a good position. When there has been career movement, it conveys that you had to learn new corporate cultures and sharpen your skills. Recruiters define an attractive candidate as someone with between 2 to 7 years at each of his or her employers.

There are other benefits to changing employers every 2 to 7 years. Companies often give a boost in pay that is greater than the typical yearly raise to attract new talent. You are also more likely to convince a new employer to produce desirable professional development opportunities if you maintain an attractive career profile.

While there are exceptions to this rule, you need to be aware early in your career that many organizations view very long tenures negatively.

Problem #2 – Rumors of Financial Problems

This one seems obvious. If news articles talk about the poor financial state of your employer, it makes sense to move to another company. If you work for a company that keeps its financial information closely held, you might wonder how you can discern your employer’s financial health.

It is often good to look at the actions of people who know the most about a company’s performance. Are executives suddenly leaving for “better opportunities?” Has accounting developed a turnover problem? These signs, from the people who see how much money is coming in and exactly how much is going out, can give you a picture of your employer’s financial state.

Problem #3 – Lack of Growth

Many job articles talk about growth, but in today’s workplace, it is up to you to promote your career development. HR departments exist to handle the administrative tasks associated with hiring and managing a company’s workforce. There are several signs you can look for to assess whether growth opportunities are or not.

If you work for a large company, the most visible sign is that you are not selected for promotions or desirable assignments. Look at your most recent performance review. While companies often use performance reviews to cover themselves in legal disputes, it is a valuable tool for an employee to determine his or her manager’s true views. Take it seriously if a manager likes your performance at your current position but seems unenthusiastic or evasive about opportunities for growth.

The decision to leave a small company is less straightforward. Successful small companies are ones that identify and grow lucrative niches for themselves. An individual employee can have the freedom to introduce process improvements or initiate new service offerings that might get vetoed at a larger company. These experiences are crucial for professional development. However, if the business owner loses interest in staying abreast of marketplace trends, a small company can quickly deteriorate. This situation means that growth opportunities will evaporate for you. The best advice in this case is leave quickly.

Career progression is a personal responsibility. Making sure you know when to exit a job that has become stagnant is critical. The three items mentioned above can tell you when it is time to go.

Just Say No to the Bad Job Offer

It’s tempting to take a job offer when you get it. However, your career is the equivalent to a company’s brand. You want to do everything possible to make it lucrative, but if you accept an offer that leaves you with a short stint on your resume, you undermine your ultimate goal.

People often wonder, “How do I know if working at this company is going to be good for my career?” Resources like glassdoor.com can give you some insight; however, you might see comments from disgruntled employees who may have been let go for completely legitimate reasons. There are some steps you can take to protect yourself:

  1. People are deeply disorganized. You go to the interview. The person you were supposed to see is not there and no one gives you a reasonable explanation (i.e. a family emergency) why this happened today. If a company isn’t respectful of your time at the very beginning, it won’t be later.
  1. The people who interview you are completely unprepared. If you meet more than one person when you go in for an interview, that’s a great sign. However, if they have no idea what they want to ask you, these folks might not see a great need for the position you hope to fill. Don’t be scared if they don’t have a long list of thorough questions. Interviewers are only perfectly prepared in career coaching books. However, it is in their interest to have a few questions to determine if you are a fit for the job.
  1. The interviewer’s statements do not match what you see in the office. People can say the all right things, but if the words do not match the actions, it is a huge warning sign. If the hiring manager says “We have lots of clients,” and yet, there are few phone calls and the overall activity level in the office is low. Trust your gut if the social cues don’t match the spoken words.
  1. They don’t have an answer to your question, “What are the first 30 days like in this position?” Some companies expect people to dive right in to the job. Others have a more formal training program. The important thing is that the company has clear expectations on how quickly it wants you to get up to speed.
  1. They don’t have an answer to the question, “How do you define someone who is successful in this position?” Murky expectations are a major cause of on-the-job frustration. If a company doesn’t know what it needs from an employee, how can you provide it?
  1. The company pressures you to accept an offer without first seeing everything in writing. You get an offer.  You’re so excited! The adrenaline is flowing. You need to take a step back and say, “I’m deeply flattered. I look forward to signing off on the written offer.” The purpose of written offers is to spell out the general duties, compensation, and benefits associated with a job so there are no surprises for either the employee or the employer. A company should want to make sure that everything is clear for its own sake.

Despite our best efforts to minimize it, sometimes a person takes a risk and it just doesn’t work out. You start a job and the boss, position description, and overall environment are not how they were represented during the search process. Asking some professional, probing questions and being observant to social cues can go a long way to protecting your career interests.