If you’ve been pondering new career opportunities amid the pandemic, you’re not alone. Nearly two out of three American workers are searching for new job opportunities or would consider moving jobs if approached by another company, according to a recent study. Younger workers are most likely to make a change, as 76% of those under the age of 30 are looking for or open to new opportunities.
In the pursuit of brighter career prospects, many workers turn to job-hopping or spending less than two years in a position before jumping to another organization. Job-hopping offers many potential benefits, from a higher salary and expanded network to opportunities to build new skills and pursue passions. And sometimes, it feels like the only way to discover what job will make you happy and fulfilled. Plus, this approach to career advancement could become even more common as millennials become the workforce majority. One Gallup Poll found them to be the most likely generation to switch jobs.
But the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and job-hopping can sometimes limit your career trajectory and options. Employees might jump ship without fully understanding just how far their current employer will go to help them navigate a satisfying, decades-long career voyage.
Take it from me—job-hopping is overrated. I have held nine different roles in the span of 15 years, all during my tenure at Staples US Retail. From corporate strategy, to store operations, to sales operations and talent management, I’ve benefited from the perks of job-hopping, without ever having to pack up my desk and start fresh somewhere new. Here are three reasons to consider staying with one organization for the long term.
Building professional equity
The longer you stay with one company, the more opportunities you will have to build professional equity. Think of this as the composite of all the job-specific skills, experience, relationships, and reputation you accrue during your tenure with any given organization. When you have invested considerable time and effort to build trust and credibility in your capabilities, you should think twice before jumping ship, or you might miss your chance to seize a return on that investment. Besides doing stellar work, one of the best ways to build professional equity in your organization is by networking.
It’s a mistake to view networking as only a way to make inroads outside of your organization when internal networking can be just as important for career growth. Taking the time to nurture relationships with senior executives who can become mentors and advocates, with junior staff who can become protégés and key future team members, and with peers at similar points in their career journeys provides you with a rich community of advisers and supporters who can propel your career. As your relationships develop, so will your leverage within your organization. You will know who to talk to and how to navigate internal systems and politics to build a portfolio of success. Networking also enables you to look around and see what functions, roles, or projects interest you and who can help you move there.
Paving your own path toward growth
The more professional equity you build, the more opportunities you will have to define new roles for yourself within your organization. After all, a career requires continuous learning and development, not just doing what comes naturally. Don’t be afraid to try new things, because branching out unlocks the self-discovery, creativity, and overall satisfaction that ultimately make a career worthwhile. And when you are known at your company and have your support network behind you, you will be trusted to take on roles that might not seem like a natural next step given your experience. I’m living proof of that. I became VP of talent management without ever having any HR experience. My strong business outcomes combined with the close relationship I had with several senior leaders enabled that job switch for me. They wanted someone with a fresh perspective, and I was able to show how I could add value.
I’m fortunate to work for a dynamic organization, which has evolved so much in the 15 years since I joined, providing me with growth opportunities and latitude for career experimentation. In my time at Staples US Retail, I’ve learned a valuable lesson: There is no such thing as wasted career experience. To some, my path to my current role as senior vice president of strategy and insights might look unconventional, given my previous roles in merchandising and human resources. However, these roles allowed me to develop expertise in financial planning, e-commerce, and change management that I wouldn’t have developed otherwise. These skills help me to be my best in my current role.
Making room for your side hustle
Another benefit of staying with one organization in the long term? If you commit to building professional equity, you may be able to negotiate more schedule flexibility to pursue other interests outside of your day job, such as a side hustle. Remember: You don’t need to quit your job to follow your passion and practice entrepreneurialism. In fact, nearly half of working Americans report having another gig outside of their primary job, including 43% of full-time workers, according to survey data.
Plus, pursuing a side hustle doesn’t benefit just you by providing a passion project or added income. This can also benefit your employer by giving you a creative outlet, allowing you to return to your day-to-day duties feeling refreshed and energized. Having a business venture on the side also allows workers to improve upon vital career skills such as time management, leadership, and communication while developing an entrepreneurial mindset. And it may even give you insight into your company’s customer base. My side hustles with nonprofits and restaurants have given me a perspective on our small-business customers that no focus group or research report could provide.
Ultimately, staying with one company for years does not, and should not, mean working in the exact same niche until retirement. A fulfilling career requires believing in yourself and in your ability to excel at new things. But if the pursuit of new career goals has you thinking about job-hopping, think again.
If you have confidence in the value you add for your employer, don’t be afraid to ask for the flexibility and new opportunities you crave. You may be surprised at the lengths to which your employer will go in order to retain you and keep you happy.