Changing jobs now-days seems about as common as changing your toothbrush. Depending on your dental hygiene, that can mean some pretty quick changes. According to Forbes, 21% of Millennials in 2016 switched jobs, compared to roughly 7% of gen Xers and other non-Millennials. And the trend doesn’t seem to be abating. What’s driving it – why change jobs so often? What makes a change successful and what do you do if you made the wrong choice?
Why change jobs so often?
If we look at the maths, if 21% of Millennials are changing jobs in a year, that means, on average, they are staying 4-5 years in their jobs, before changing. For non-Millennials, they’re taking their time and staying over 10 years before changing.
In the past, when unemployment was high and the job market was less fluid than it is today, people feared changing jobs. After all, changing comes with a fair share of risk and if it doesn’t work out, you’re back to finding another job. With a fluid job market and employment at an all time high, opportunities abound and taking that risk suddenly looks a lot less risky.
In the past sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn didn’t exist. In the past, it was hard to know what companies cared for their people and what benefits one company offered versus another. Today you can see all that information in a few clicks. In the past, it was hard to quickly see what jobs were available and reaching out to your network implied lots of phone calls. Today, you can be connected to over 5,000 people in your extended LinkedIn network.
Then there is the money thing. When you’re in a job, if you live in a low inflation Western economy, outside of the tech sector, average salary increases are a few percent each year. Changing jobs can see your wages go up between 8-10% on average and in some cases up to 20%. This is a simple maths calculation: Staying in a job 25 years and getting an annual 2% increase, versus changing every 5 years for a 10% increase, means that your salary at the end of 25 years is 35% higher if you change every 5 years versus staying put.
Also, the older you are might mean the higher fixed costs you have and the less risk you are willing and able to take, so changing jobs frequently might be too scary for some, given what they perceive is at risk.
But it isn’t all about the money (even though that is important). Opportunities tend to arise more often outside your organisation and that’s important for career growth. Again it is just about the numbers. There are a ton of companies out there and the chances that one of them is looking for someone with your experience at a higher level on a higher salary is pretty good. So why not take it?
While the grass might not always be greener on the other side, you’ll never know if you don’t go have a look. Truth is, the stigma associated with frequent job hopping is fast receding. Companies now-days are looking for people with multiple and diverse experience, not stagnant employees who have only known one company.
What to do when you change jobs to make it successful?
So you took the plunge and decided to see if the grass is actually greener on the other side. What now? How do you make it work? How do you fit in and make yourself successful?
1. Observe everything before you act or speak to make sure you fit in
Every company has their own code and you need to learn it quickly.
To fit into any environment you need to be aware of the code that defines it.
Here is a list of things you need to pay attention to:
- Do people leave their office doors open?
- How do people dress? Is it formal or casual?
- How are meetings prepared and then run?
- Are subjects handled better in meetings or through casual conversations?
- How are emails signed of?
- PowerPoint, word, excel or something else?
- Is there an arrival time or is it random?
- Where do people eat?
These things can help you shape quickly the way you dress, the way you structure or behave in meetings, the way you ask questions, the way you speak to people and how to presented ideas.
To be able to fit in with people and teams, you first have to gain their trust. People trust what they know.
2. Question everything and don’t take anything for granted.
Don’t think you know better or worse, know everything. Use your time to learn as much as you can. Never assume anything works the way you think it must work.
Questions are critical to building understanding.
Ask a lot of questions.
Understanding of how things work can help you better apply any previous experience and adapt it to my new environment to add value to your new company.
3. Take a lot of Humble and mix it in with Gratitude
This is essential when changing companies. Nobody warms to a bully. Nobody likes a bragger and know it all. Nobody wants to be friends with the arrogant guy. Being humble opens people up to you and makes your transition into a new role and company all the more easier.
Humility is a strong base on which to build new relationships.
Strong relationships provide better insights, and more open and honest communication.
Make sure you also show gratitude for the new opportunity. This is an important element to mix with humility. It warms people to you and can make your transition all the more easier.
4. Make sure you perform at your best
Don’t just take the salary increase and turn on the cruise control. Make sure you take the right approach in being a top performer. Ensure that you quickly learn from any mistakes, and apply yourself.
Remember, the next best thing to a standard annual wage increase or moving jobs, is getting promoted. Make sure you know the right steps to get promoted and stick to them.
What to do if you realize you made a mistake?
You may have changed jobs and you may have followed the rules in adapting to your new environment, kept yourself in great shape to be a top performer and developed your early strategy to be in line for a great promotion and then you realize you made a mistake.
It may have started as a little nagging voice, when nobody showed up to the on-boarding session you were booked into.
It may have been the fact that nobody told you what to do when you arrived and your boss couldn’t see you for the first two weeks, so you just sat around getting to know the teams.
It may have been later, when your first top recommendations were met with blank stares and refusals to acknowledge that things could be improved.
It may even have been when you realized your new boss was toxic as hell and being in the office was a nightmare.
It can happen at any stage, but you usually know it in the first 90 days. you might not accept it at that time, but you usually know.
First thing, don’t panic.
Second thing, read about how to handle a toxic boss, if that it your situation.
Third thing, start mapping out an exit route. This is the heart of it and most of the basic steps are covered in the above article. Even though they are directed at handling a toxic boss, they apply to any change.
- Reach out to your organisation to see if other opportunities exist. Maybe a change in company is not needed, but rather a change of scenery in the current one.
- Reach out to your network and start fishing around for other opportunities.
- If you can, move quickly – in the first 90 days if you can. If you can’t, then take it nice and slow and plan out the next move as you can’t afford a second wrong turn.
- Be gracious when you leave as the world is a small place.
Changing jobs can be a financially and intellectually fruitful and exhilarating experience. Don’t rush it and make sure you clearly weigh up the pros and cons of any move.
Once you’ve decided to move, make sure you put your energy into it and don’t look back. you never know, it could become a hobby.