by Jessica Kleiman
You may be really happy in your job and that’s great. But if a recruiter calls or a friend tips you off to a great position that fits your skills, are you ready to pursue it? If so, is your resume current? Are you constantly connecting with people in case a better opportunity presents itself?
Often, we get comfortable (a.k.a. lazy) in our current positions and don’t think about what might be next for us on the ladder of success. But you never know when your dream job will come along—or when you might lose the one you have. Here are five reasons why you should be always be seeking out new opportunities and laying the groundwork for your next career move:
1) Loyalty doesn’t pay. Gone are the days when people stayed at the same company for their entire careers and collected a gold watch at their retirement party. According to a Careerbuilder study, today’s Millennials spend an average of 2.4 years or less in the same position—and it doesn’t hurt them one bit. In fact, staying at a company too long can work against you. You may get promoted but you likely won’t see the kind of substantial salary increases that you would if you left for a new job. In addition, unless you’re able to move into different roles that challenge you and grow your skills, you may max out on learning in the same job for years. Lastly, while you may feel that your employer values your loyalty, when push comes to shove, if they need to make cuts or new leadership comes in above you, there’s no guarantee that your job won’t be eliminated.
2) Things can change quickly. There are any number of reasons why you could be put in a difficult or precarious position and, suddenly, your previously secure gig could be on the chopping block. You could get a new boss who decides to bring in his own team or doesn’t think you’re as much of a rock star as your previous manager. Alternatively, if your company gets acquired, the new owner could choose to clean house or the business could go through a rough patch financially and be forced to streamline. You want to stay in control of your own destiny—not leave it at the mercy of shifting business priorities.
3) It keeps you top of mind. Even if you’re content where you are, you should always be entertaining other options. Update your LinkedIn profile on a regular basis, expand your network and stay in touch with recruiters in your industry so they know to reach out to you when an even better job becomes available. If people don’t think you’re on the market, you won’t get those calls—and your competition will. I landed my last job by reconnecting on social media with the company’s CEO, with whom I had worked years ago, and asking him to have a catch-up coffee. It turned out that he had just started thinking about bringing in a head of communications. After I had started there, he admitted that, had I not gotten back in touch, he never would have thought of me as a candidate since I was at a much bigger, more established company and he didn’t think I would leave.
4) Every conversation is worthwhile. So, say you do get approached about a job opportunity and you don’t think it’s the right fit or the right time. Go on the interview anyway. Case in point: When I was director of PR at an internet company years ago, reporting directly to the CEO and running a department, I got a call from a recruiter for a senior manager position at a much bigger company, with three people above me, and I almost turned down the chance to interview. But I decided to take the meeting for the heck of it. Flash forward: I took the job, stayed there for over a decade and was promoted three times.
5) It’ll help clarify what you want—and don’t want. A few years ago, I got an offer for what seemed, on paper, like a dream job. But the process was agonizing—spanning five months of back and forth, multiple interviews, periods of radio silence and a management team that seemed highly disorganized. I turned it down because my gut told me it wasn’t a good move. Sure enough, less than a year later, they had eliminated the entire PR team and had gone through three CEOs. Paying attention to the signs confirmed for me what I didn’t want in a job or a company, which was indecision, changing priorities and a leadership team without a clear vision.
The upshot: You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting out there and going on interviews. At a minimum, it’ll expose you to new companies, businesses and people—which could help you at your current company. At best, it could lay the groundwork for future career moves. Either way, you’ll be on the road to success—and squarely in the driver’s seat.