I have been at my current job for six months. When I first started, it was the third job I held in one calendar year. Since graduating college, I have had five jobs total.
Big red flag.
I can’t escape the irony that I usually recommend to recent grads to stay in a position for at least a year before moving on.
The reason I left my previous job for my current one was that it provided job security, excellent benefits, and room to grow within the company. However, it would mean leaving what I thought was my dream job (when I initially started).
Before I made my final decision to move on, I had a lot of talks with the people whose opinions I valued the most: my parents, my friends, and my boyfriend. Even the recruiter and talent acquisition manager at my new company gave me their thoughts about moving on too soon.
Though I was worried about what it might mean to change jobs again, everyone helped me make the following realizations:
1. You can’t always control how a company grows
I left one job because my department was being dissolved. I left another because it was acquired by another company. Another company had leaders who didn’t see eye to eye with my career growth, which leads me to my next point…
2. You are allowed to be selfish when it comes to your future
When I was in my early twenties, I was satisfied as long as my current work was challenging and fun. I assumed as long as I did great work, my future would write itself. Having a five-year plan was laughable – who actually sticks to a plan? Aren’t you supposed to let life lead you somewhere?
Eventually, you get to a point where life requires you to thinks about the years ahead. My personal goals no longer sounds like “Do I have enough money saved to go to Coachella this year?” but instead about the future: “Can I buy a house in a few years?” In five years, I might be married or already have started a family. I am in my late twenties, while most of you readers might still be in school, but it is important to think about where you would like to be when you start your career. When your dreams begin to affect other people (your significant other, your future offspring), you are forced to think about that five-year plan and how your job will get you there.
3. You should be compensated based on your value
Some companies only look at the number of years experience alone, when two years experience can vary by company. Two years at a startup requiring you to wear multiple hats could be considered more valuable than working at a more established company where you didn’t have a lot of responsibility. The best way to communicate this is 20% your resume and 80% how professionally you act when you go in for the interview.
4. Loyalty goes both ways
The baby boomers in your life might say that loyalty is always rewarded, meaning you should stay at a company for a significant period of time. A few decades ago, this might have been possible when the economy was stronger and there was less competition. Nowadays, even large companies can’t be too certain of the future. In my experience, some companies are transparent about growth (or decline), and others will keep employees in the dark, which isn’t fair when people’s livelihoods are at stake.
Also, fewer companies are offering full benefits – and not all of them have regular salary review cycles. Legend has it that it was the standard for companies to give an annual raise of 4% to everyone. Of all the jobs I’ve had, less than half had an official annual review process when I started. When a company can’t be reliable to their employees, why should they be loyal back?
5. You need to be challenged in the right way
I think there are two types of challenges. There are challenges that are completely beyond your control (your boss, heavy workloads, being short-staffed) and ones that are in your control and are expected (a difficult brief or client, late nights before a deadline, last minute requests from the CEO themselves ). The right challenge for you should lead to learning new skill sets, how to lead, or sharpen your problem solving skills. Over time, you will also learn your personal work style. I know I like to be intellectually challenged, but if I have to compensate because someone else is disorganized or is hard to work with, I get frustrated and unmotivated.
Overall, if you are considering leaving a job, make sure it’s for the right reasons. Realistically, you can’t change jobs every year. However, you can learn over time what kind of job is worth it in the long haul. It might take you longer, but it will be worth it in the end.
This post was originally published on LinkedIn. Reb Carlson is currently the Director of New Media at RFIBinder and has spent the last six years working in social media marketing in New York City. She is also one of the original co-founders of FindSpark and writes and creates art in her spare time. Visit her website to find out more.