I recently met someone whose story will make you think. This individual was a dedicated employee working for the same company for over 20 years. During this time he worked through all the available training and accepted as many positions as he could to advance his situation. He was highly regarded by his coworkers as well as those who worked for him. I know because I interviewed one of them. What makes this story somewhat sad to me is the length of time that he waited for a better position to come along. Though he was highly qualified, he worked a fourth of his life for a company where he hoped a better situation would come along but never did.
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This story is more common than you may think. How long should you work for a company before you decide that it’s time to move on? What makes people stay? Is it wrong to stay loyal? Is it wrong to jump ship?
The answers to these questions are as different as those who ask them, but depending on your situation, here are three factors to consider when frustrated with your job:
It is more common today for people to change companies and careers in a relatively short period of time. The average length of time for people to stay in one job is now around 3.2 years. Working for the same company for an entire career is becoming a thing of the past. If you are passionate about the work that you do, you love your position and you have no desire to leave, than it makes sense for you to stay. If you need to change your situation and there are no foreseeable opportunities, then you should create a plan to change.
Don’t let the lack of a degree hold you back. It is becoming more common for companies to offer more advanced positions to candidates who have related experience even if they don’t have college degrees. I have worked for companies that would offer promotions to those without a college degree as long as they had valuable work experience or special skills. There are still companies that don’t offer promotions unless you have a college degree. To me this is old thinking. More and more companies recognize and reward folks who are predisposed to action and accomplishment whether you have a degree or not. Those are the companies you need to target with your plan of action.
Your experience is valuable. It is sad but true, that local talent is sometimes overlooked. While your company may not recognize the things you have accomplished, there are other companies who will. The gentleman in my story was a very skilled supervisor who was organized, focused and had a track record of production success. Another local company was thrilled to pick him up and offer him a better situation, better pay, better hours, better incentives and better recognition. You may have exactly what another company is looking for. But you need to recognize your own value first.
So what should you do?
- Commit yourself for two to five years of dedicated effort. If the fit isn’t right, or the opportunities are not available, then create a plan to move on. Start today. Life is too short!
- Learn everything you can in and for your current position and future positions.
- Be indispensable. – This means that they can’t live without you.
- Identify your next move based on work that you love. Don’t just take the next best pay scale. Have a strategy to put yourself where you need to be.
- Keep your options open. What I mean by this is, make sure that you don’t limit your career options by outside decisions. Debt is a huge factor because it strangles mobility. If you are not mobile, the best options may not be available to you.
My hope is that you will find encouragement in these ideas. Don’t wait for years thinking that your time will come. It may, but then it may not. Loyalty is admirable, but your first duty is to your principles, your family and then your company. If your current situation is not working, then take steps to change your situation. You have value as an employee, and perhaps you have greater value to someone else.
Let me know what you think. If you are working on a plan already, check out this free worksheet on Seven Steps to a Great Job Interview. Leave a comment below. I would love to connect with you!