20-Something Question: How Often Should I Change Jobs?


Many of the young women I talk to think that they should change jobs every two years. This surprised many 40-somethings with whom I recently discussed the subject of job change. Today’s I’m sharing some thoughts on changing jobs from both 40-somethings and 20-somethings who have made transitions.

1. You gain management muddle when you stay at a company longer….and those are skills you should learn in your twenties to get to a point where you can handle more responsibility.

“If I didn’t stay for 5 years at  job in my twenties I wouldn’t have learned how to deal with people and manage relationships. I learned how to navigate internal issues and what is required of you within the organization. I think I had much to learn from staying. You don’t know what you don’t know.” – 40-something, from partner at own communications and marketing firm  to financial services / financial advisor.

2. If variety and learning new skills are what you are seeking, then you don’t really have to leave to get that.

“We are free agents now. You can find things to do on own within corporation and outside of a company on your own. It’s cheap to do ….all you need is you and a computer. There is no guarantee in today’s world so you should develop your own thing that you enjoy doing. Then if your job disappears you still have that. Plus it gives you the benefit of exploration even if you don’t change jobs.” —  20-something, from tech company to life coach

3. You don’t have to change jobs every two years but the “two-year rule” is a good guidepost for re-evaluating your progress and what you want or need.

“You don’t have to change companies every 2 years but you should re-evaluate. Are your responsibilities changing? If so… then you should be getting compensated and recognized for it. If not it’s time to re-assess your role at the company. Your responsibilities should be increasing not decreasing. If you have been doing the exact same thing for two years not only is bad for you career but it is boring!”  — 20-something, investment banking to marketing  and entrepreneur

4. You may be able to find change” within the organization.

You can switch jobs without switching companies, especially if you work in a larger company. So this idea that you have to switch companies, I don’t think that’s right. There’s nothing wrong with switching companies but it’s more about keeping your experiences fresh. You can re-define the jobs that you’re currently in to keep those experiences fresh.” – 40-something, marketing and innovation executive to non-profit leadership.

5. Explore with purpose — find the “learning line” that tells the story of your career.

“There’s so much job switching amongst 20-somethings now. I’m not sure we know how it will affect your later career. It’s contradictory because people say, ‘The 20s are time to explore’. I’d say explore but always try to create a link. Whatever you learned in that job, figure out how that will apply to the next one and what thread are you building rather than just a bunch of willy-nilly, ‘I tried this and then I tried that.'” – 40-something from marketing to writing



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