The recession is over.
We should be done with all the hunkering-down and counting-of-blessings (the steady job and the steady pay check that comes with it). And yet, so many people are still chugging along in jobs they've long ago outgrown, in a kind of complacent fog.
Maybe it's habit or inertia. Or perhaps they have an outdated view of the job market as one that has little to offer the job seeker. Whatever the reason; there are a lot of people who’ve been in nice, safe, perfectly good jobs for more years than they'd like to admit. And that's a shame.
I’m not suggesting job-hopping’s a good thing. Far from it. Not only does it brand you as a flight risk; it means you never get the chance to see things through to completion and fully test yourself.
But on the other hand, hanging on to a job that’s as comfortable as an old pair of slippers isn’t just benign - it can be downright harmful to your career.
1. Perception is reality
There’s no hard and fast maximum number of years you should spend in a role. Some say five years, some say ten. Really, it all depends on who’s reading your CV. But even if your job gives you plenty of opportunity to keep progressing, there will come a point where the majority of hiring managers will stop seeing your tenure as a positive (loyalty, grit, conscientiousness), and start seeing it as a negative (inflexibility, lack of drive).
2. Keep your skills relevant
Even if you’ve made a concerted effort to keep your skills up to date at your current job, there’s just no way of knowing if the way you’re doing things is the best way. You simply have nothing to compare yourself to. Things are done differently at every company, and a new mix of employees will expose you to skills and ideas that you’re unlikely to experience by staying put.
3. Grow your network
Maybe you work for a huge company. Perhaps you deal with a lot of external suppliers and clients, and you attend every industry event going. Even so, your ability to grow your networks will inevitably be limited by staying at one place for too long. And without a strong, dynamic network, opportunities to take on new challenges or find your dream job will pass you by every day.
4. Unsettle yourself
This is the most compelling reason of all to consider leaving. Starting a new job is an adventure that can be unsettling, threatening - even frightening. But we all know that conquering that discomfort is how we grow. More than that; it’s how we experience life fully. Staying in a job past its use-by date is like sitting on your couch every night, watching another episode of Game of Thrones instead of manning up and getting along to that new boxing class. Sure it’s familiar, easy, and deeply comfortable. But you know deep down it’s not adding anything to your life. Keep it up for too long and your confidence – even your zest for life - will take a big hit.
Take a hard look at your safe, comfortable, perfectly good job. Perhaps it’s time you quit.