“I don’t paint dreams or nightmares, I paint my own reality.” ― Frida Kahlo
Protect your mojo! If you are employed by a company that is siphoning off your mojo, either a little or a lot, run.
Duretti made the point that frequent job switching is a good way (sometimes the only way) to make a substantially better salary. Research supports this point: “Staying employed at the same company for over two years on average is going to make you earn less over your lifetime by about 50% or more.”
Arguably more important than salary is mojo: if you are at a company where your co-workers don’t value you, consider leaving. Regardless of how long you’ve been there so far. Toxic jobs “keep you off-balance, and they make you sick”. (Liz Ryan, the hero of anyone who is trying to survive a bad job)
I have seen wildly contrasting points of view about short lengths of stay at jobs. A software engineer I know, Joshua, once had an interviewer walk into the room and write a series of numbers on the white board:
0 | 2 | 1 | 2 | 3
The interviewer said, “Joshua, can you tell me what this sequence of numbers means?”
Joshua said, “Um, no, can you give me a hint?”
The interviewer said, “This represents your stay at your last 5 companies, rounded to the nearest year.”
My advice to Joshua was: Next time that happens, say thank you for your time and leave. It was a perfect example of a boss who is going to suck out your mojo from day one.
My advice to potential job hoppers is this: Do It.
Another friend’s first job post grad school had a yearly salary in the mid 5 figures. Her second job post grad school, one year later, had double the salary of the first. That was a good choice.
But it isn’t always a clear cut decision. Sometimes it really is a mistake to leave. For example, if the new thing seems fun and cool, but you are taking a drop in responsibility, title, salary, or all three, hesitate. There should be at lease some objective gain for you in moving.
So how do you know what to do? Here are my rules of thumb:
- Job level is determined by 3 factors: title, number of reports, and salary. Think twice, or perhaps three times, before taking a job that is lower on the 3 factors, regardless of the new company’s “cool factor”.
- Before hopping jobs, think carefully about your overall career strategy. Write down your one and five year goals. Write down all of the aspects of your ideal job. Understand exactly how your new position will get you from here to there.
- Before turning down the opportunity to hop ask yourself whether you are acting out of fear or misplaced loyalty. Look again at your (written, clearly articulated) career plan. Which alternative gets you closer to the goal?
- Remember that ignoring an opportunity is the same as turning it down. Whatever place you work, what are the opportunities to learn, to network, and to present your ideas? Are you taking advantage of every possibility and keeping an open mind?
And once you hop, you might be scared. But as Liz says,
“You got out. That was a brave and mighty move.”