For most employees your career has a life cycle of its own that needs to be proactively managed to ensure that you are growing and developing throughout your career to meet your changing priorities.
Whether it is your first job right out of college or a new job later in your career, there is typically a honeymoon stage. You are excited about the job and they are excited to have you but then reality sets in. You need to learn new skills and responsibilities. You must also build relationships with team members and other key stakeholders. Even if you have accepted a new senior level position, you need to learn how things are done at the new company and build your relationships. In this stage you are typically doing a lot more listening than speaking as you seek to learn and understand.
Blissful Stability Stage
In most instances, the new employee or person in the new job settles in. They learn how things work and they begin making contributions to the organization. They receive feedback, participate in training, take on new projects, etc. as they continue to learn and grow in the job. It is important to keep track of key accomplishments along the way for future reference. Relationships grow stronger during this period and responsibilities and knowledge tend to grow. Often in this stage employees are offered opportunities to take on additional projects internally which may lead to other internal opportunities.
Some employees hit a complacency stage. The job is no longer challenging, they are not learning new things however looking for a new job either within the company or externally is a lot of work. Rather than stepping up the networking and updating the resume to begin a job search, they hunker in to “tough it out.” Unfortunately they tend to become jaded about the job and the company but are not doing anything to change the situation.
Time for a Change
If it is time for a change either internally or externally, the employee must prepare for that journey. First honestly assess why it is time for a change and what is important to you in the new role. Is it more responsibility or maybe less? Is it the opportunity to learn new skills or a new industry? Honestly assess your skills and interests to build a plan. Conduct information interviews with people doing the types of jobs you think you want to hear their perspective. Identify the skills required. If you decide to move forward, update your resume and have someone review it for you. Build a target list of companies and use that to strategically guide your networking to support your search. Of course, if you are successful you start back at the honeymoon stage.
Does Longevity Still Matter?
I visit many companies in the course of my work and I am often surprised to find people who have been with their employers twenty years or more. While that is no longer the norm it has certainly not disappeared. Many people grow and change within their current organizations for extended periods of time. On the other hand, particularly younger employees tend to move frequently. Often the lure of more money, better benefits, an exciting new role are all reasons to motivate a quick change.
While a series of jobs on the resume is not the automatic red flag it used to be in the job search, hiring managers are still nervous if they see a candidate who can’t stay more than 18 months in the same company. Taking on new positions within the company is seen as a positive but jumping too often and too soon can raise concerns. For candidates with multiple jobs be sure you can tell a story of why you made each change and what you gained in experience from each successive job.
To have a successful career you need to be continually managing your career looking at what you are learning, what skills you are developing and what brings you satisfaction at work. Your career can be successfully managed through the stages.