Why You Should Never Stay at a Job For Too Long

Career Change

Forty or 50 years ago, the average worker was not terribly concerned about hopping around from job to job. He or she was in it for the long haul, as longevity was prized above all. Of course, those were the days of pensions, when workers would get a larger retirement paycheck for every year they put in, and employees with stock options would stick around until they were vested. Sadly, the suffering economy has put more and more employers in a band, and the days of lifetime careers at a single company are, for all intents and purposes, long gone.

These days, employers are more used to employees coming and going every few years; in fact, many even have human resources personnel dedicated to taking care of all the recruiting and hiring that needs to be done. Employees, for their part, have come to recognize that opportunity isn’t always where they are — they often have to change positions to get ahead. Not staying at a job for a long time is, many people understand, good for a number of reasons.

While you don’t want to jump around from one job to another too much, it’s almost never a bad idea to move on after a few years. Here are ten great reasons why you should never stay at any given job for too long.

1. You’ll find yourself stuck in a routine.

Most workplaces tend to be cyclical: January’s are the same, February’s are the same, and so on. If you’ve been in a job for a few years, you’ve done the cycle a few times, and you’re just repeating it over and over. Yes, you may be improving on a few things, but for the most part, there’s nothing new. This is not good for your employer, but it’s especially not good for you. If the routine is getting to you, it’s probably time to look for something new.

2. You’ll get bored.

Taking off from the previous reason, the routine can make you feel like you’re spinning your wheels. You get in a rut. Everything’s exactly as expected, and there are no surprises. While that may be a comfortable place to be for some people, it’s a pretty boring place to be for anyone with an ounce of ambition and drive. If your nine to five in the office every day is just an ongoing exercise in drudgery, you may want to find another position that’s more interesting.

3. You’ll stall when it comes to expanding your skill set.

If you want to get ahead in your career, you’ve got to keep learning how to do new things. This means accepting new challenges and pushing yourself to meet new goals. Neglect to do this, and your skills become outdated; eventually, you’re out of a job not by choice, but because your skills have become outdated. The problem is, it’s hard to expand your skill set if you’re in the same job for years and years, doing the same tasks over and over. The only way to really grow? Find a new position and try doing new things.

4. You’ll stall when it comes to expanding your network.

Not only will working the same job year after year keep you from gaining more skills, it will keep you from gaining more contacts. When you’re interacting with the same people day after day, month after month, and year after year, there’s very little opportunity to meet new people and grow your network. By switching jobs — and switching employers — you create more opportunities to meet new people.

5. Others may begin to see you as unmotivated.

Longevity at a particular employer used to be valued, but these days, it increasingly sends a negative message: that you lack ambition. It simply gives others the wrong idea — that you’re content and maybe a little too comfortable, and that you’re not going to work as hard as someone younger, hungrier, and, frankly, newer in his or her position. By changing jobs from time to time, you create the need to prove yourself over and over again, and that keeps your wits sharp.

6. People don’t really change.

One of the biggest reasons why people dislike the job they’re in is the people with whom they work. They dislike their boss, or they dislike one or more of their coworkers, and the tension in the office makes going into work a real chore. And while you can bring up your concerns to human resources and maybe see some shifting in attitudes, the bottom line is that at their core, people don’t change. That obnoxious, petty coworker isn’t going to start being gracious and easy to work with. The obstinate boss isn’t suddenly going to value your opinion. If you have begun to resent your job because of the people surrounding you, that’s a pretty good sign that it’s time to move on.

7. An old job may not fit with your new life.

Even though people don’t really change in their hearts, their lives do change. Specifically, your life is probably quite different than it was a few years ago, and if you’re still in the same job, it may not be right for you anymore. Perhaps you’ve gotten married or divorced, maybe you have kids, or maybe there are new financial obligations in your life. Whatever it is, if you’re not getting the flexibility and accommodations you need from your place of employment, it’s probably the right time to seek a new position.

8. There’s often more money elsewhere.

In theory, you should be able to advance within your company, get better positions, and make more money. But the reality is that it’s hard to get those big raises if you stay with the same employer. That’s because the employer already knows that you’ll do a good job for your current pay; there’s not much incentive for them to pay you substantially more. A new employer, however, may recognize that it will take more than a two or three percent raise to get you to jump ship and move. In a new position with a new business or organization, you should see a noticeable increase in your paycheck.

9. You might lose your ability to adapt.

Change is inevitable. The likelihood of you staying in the same position, or even at the same company, for your entire career is pretty much nil. So, the longer you stay in one place, the more difficult it will be to make a transition when it inevitably happens. Moving on after four or five years is easy; it becomes much more difficult after ten, 15, or even 20 years.

10. It may be time for an entire career change.

Here’s the thing: no matter how many years you’ve invested in your career, it’s never too late to change. If your current position isn’t sparking anything within you, if you’ve lost your passion for your work, or if you’ve found a new cause to fight for, it may be time to switch gears entirely. Don’t rule out a career change. It may be just what you need to keep going.


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