How often should you change jobs?

How often should you change jobs? This question often nags employees who feel they need a change of scenery or have found themselves in position that, once again, isn’t furthering their career goals.

If you feel that you’ve been in the same position for too long, then you might need a change.

But what happens if that need to change happens time and time again? How often should you change jobs without it becoming detrimental to your career?

How often is too often?

Generations ago, people would spend their entire careers at the same company, oftentimes because that’s what was expect. However, in today’s current work environment, it’s rare to see someone take a position in a company and stay there until retirement. Because today’s job market is constantly changing and your skillset is evolving to adapt to it, the collective mindset has shifted to where changing jobs has become the norm. The crucial question, though, is, how often should you change jobs? The most acceptable answer is around every three or four years.  

Determining why you should change jobs

Studies have shown that workers who stay with a company for longer than two years are getting paid up to 50% less than new hires.  This means that many companies – perhaps even the company that you are currently working for – aren’t promoting employees, giving raises, or increasing benefits.  After two years working for the same company you should begin to seek advancement. If  internal advancement isn’t happening, you may want to start looking for a position in a new company.

According to this same study, “job hoppers” have shown to have a higher learning curve, be better performers, and tend to be more loyal, possibly because they have a shorter amount of time to make a good impression.  

Besides earning more money, there are plenty of other benefits gained from changing jobs every 3-4 years.  With constant change in positions and environment, your skills set will continue to expand and evolve, compared to staying at the same position.  We tend to get complacent in our jobs if we stick around for too long.  You get into a routine that becomes predictable and you grow stagnant.  You stop learning new skills, which can make it much harder to get a job down the road if you’d need to.  

When is it time to change?

If you’re closing in on 3-4 years within the same role or company, and you’re trying to decide if it’s time to find another job, these top indicators should help tell you if and when you need to start searching.

    • You’re really good at your job.  If you never make a mistake or if you aren’t properly challenged, then it’s time to move on.  To prevent becoming stagnant, you need to find career opportunities that inspire critical thinking and problem solving.
    • You’re really bad at your job.  This one should be obvious, but is always worth mentioning.  Sometimes your skills just don’t match up with what the job requires.  If you’re not invested in the work or don’t have the necessary experience, you should look for a new job.  
    • You’ve just completed a successful project.  After the busy season comes more time to network and apply for new positions.  You’ll also have recent and successful achievements to show off during an interview.  
    • Your goals don’t match the company’s.  In an ideal situation, your career goals – such as advancement –  will match with the company you are working for.  If this is not the case, it’s time to find a new position.
    • Your skills aren’t appreciated/utilized.  If your boss doesn’t acknowledge your work, if coworkers are getting promotions, if your position feels obsolete–all of these are reasons to start looking for a new job.