It is no longer breaking news that young professionals are no longer taking cue from parents and grandparents to stay with the same company for our entire careers. We are job hoping, trying new adventures, and exploring our options by taking a variety of job changes over our working years.
I, after 5 years with my first employer out of college, made such a job change. It wasn’t easy. It is mentally stressful as you trying to figure out where your life is going, emotionally exhausting as you leave connections behind from years of service, and physically taxing as you navigate the new world accompanying your new position. And yet, taking that challenge and risk can absolutely be worth it.
My hesitation to change jobs came from my worry of leaving behind “comfort.” I had friends, I knew my role, I understood how the company ran and the products we built. They were also helping pay for my Master’s degree which, financially, was a huge help. That alone isn’t enough to motivate, or keep you at a company that you won’t grow and flourish in. Having said that, jumping ship at the first sign of discontent isn’t accurate either. You have to pause and deeply think about how you feel every day when you leave work (sad, demotivated, excited) and where you see your career going long term. Ultimately, if you are leaving every day feeling like your skills are not being used, with your head down in woe, and your career goals seeming further and further out of your reach – it is time to begin the hunt for a new role. Research jobs on the internet (set up alerts from Indeed & Monster to trigger a reminder and motivation), work with mentors to talk through different options, and discuss potential changes within the current company to ensure all options are investigated.
Yes, having graduate school paid for is amazing. But other companies do it. The finally decision for me was the financial incentive wasn’t enough for how despondent I felt leaving at the end of the work day. In the end, being intrinsically motivated, I didn’t feel like I was adding value to the company or developing into a stronger employee. The role was ill-defined and poorly supported, but more than that, after 2.5 years in the roll, it lacked the dynamic challenges I needed to stay motivated.
This is in no way a vent session for a tough few months in my career. My hope is that other young professionals going through these similar feelings will see IT IS OK move on when something is no longer working. To realize that feeling tied to the loyalty and comfort of a company is normal, but there are other wonderful companies out there that can better fill personal career goals and needs while also better utilizing your individual skill sets to their operations. This is in no way permission to job hop every few years; that can be a negative mark on your career past. Yet, it is okay to acknowledge and accept that your current role isn’t working (this does NOT make you a failure) and move on.
Moving on doesn’t mean connections have to end. Make the conscious effort to reach out to the friends and mentors you made on a periodic basis. Don’t let the fear of the new job being “worse” hold you back – it is a risk you have to take. Even the “worse” jobs are learning opportunities – they show you want you don’t like/what doesn’t work for you, and makes you tougher.
I am happy to report, that my risk has paid off. So far, I am excited about my decision to move on and it is going very well so far. The culture is a better fit for my personally, and the supportive environment is better for my career development. Such respect is shown for one another (it’s wonderful!), and the work is more strategic and a great mental challenge.
Take Away: Moving on from a role isn’t admitting defeat. Rather, you are acknowledging that something isn’t working and it is time to move on. More often than not, now that you understand what you don’t want, the next move with be a much better fit and better aligned with your career goals. You got this.