Just 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.