Jumping jobs can be good for you

Aneth Ng-Lim

Posted at Aug 12 2019 08:37 AM

“Remaining employed at a company for longer than 2 years at a time can hurt your lifetime earnings by 50 percent.”

This news caught my eye as I was doing my daily browsing a week ago. As someone who had itchy feet and switched employers 3 times in 3 years after I left college, I felt vindicated.

I remember my parents advising me I should not leave so soon, employers telling me I was giving up too quickly, colleagues saying I will be hurting my career. But when you have to go, you have to go, and I felt during those times that even just one day more will be one day too late.

Back to the news I read, it was about a recent study conducted among employees in the United States. Carried out by The Harris Poll with 1,010 full-time private sector employees, 32 percent of the respondents said they plan to find a new job this year. The survey was commissioned by employment website CareerBuilder.

What’s more, 29 percent admitted they regularly search for new jobs while they’re employed. And a high 78 percent say they’re open to trying something new if the opportunity arises.

If you’re thinking this is a recent change in attitude, the news published by Marketwatch goes on to say that previous research supports the findings of The Harris Poll. 

Moving quickly between companies can boost your salary but may be a red flag to future employers. According to HR consulting firm Robert Half who completed a survey last year, 54 percent of workers favor switching to a new company after less than 2 years in a job. That trend is up 22 percent from results of a 4-year old study.

But as I said earlier, this study surveyed US workers and there are many factors that affect their outlook – from a good job market to a healthier economy. Right now, they have a historical low unemployment rate so that’s good news for the workers. 

Here back home, if you are working or looking for a job, should you jump ship too whenever an opportunity arises? Consider these tips before you hand over your resignation.

#1 Make sure the grass is really greener on the other side.
If you will leave your employer, make sure you do so for good reasons and one of them is higher pay. I’ve heard stories of this person and that executive getting offered twice their current pay and that’s why they left. Sadly that has never happened to me.

Head hunters say that changing jobs can typically get a worker a 10 percent to 20 percent salary increase. That may not sound impressive but you have to look at several factors. Some employers no longer give annual increases, but prefer to pay out bonuses. When employees reach senior levels, they find that their pay increases shrink to single digits, and likely in the low spectrum too. Employees who stick at the same company can generally expect a 3 percent annual raise, according to the US study. This is why the report concluded that remaining employed at a company for longer than 2 years will decrease a worker’s lifetime earnings by 50 percent. 

Against this backdrop, 10 percent to 20 percent sounds good. Of course if you can push for more, bigger is always better.

#2 Pay is just one number so look at total compensation package.
If you’re new to a company, you may hear of tenured co-workers missing the good old days. They like to talk about the benefits they used to have like free shuttle service, food allowance, supply of groceries at the pantry, the list goes on and on.

By law, employers have to follow the principle of non-diminution of benefits, meaning any grant that employees have enjoyed for a long time cannot be taken away. But that only protects your tenured co-workers. If you are just starting with the company, you may find that their benefits are not the same as yours – that is you are no longer entitled to a company car, or have access to food vouchers.

To avoid this, make sure to ask questions. When an offer is presented to you, examine every item against your current benefits. Is the medical insurance superior? How about the retirement plan? Ask not just your employer but also people you may know who are working for them so you can probe on past benefits too. Knowledge is power, and in this case, can also line your pockets.

#3 Moving around better mean moving up. Another top reason people leave their employers is for a chance to be promoted and assume greater responsibilities. 

While you may be a valued employee where you are right now, there could be 2 or 3 of you, and all of you have a boss that does not seem to be going anywhere for a while. That means all 3 of you will have to wait her or him out before you can move up.

But if you are already ripe for greater responsibilities, switching companies can make it happen for you sooner. You can also consider moving to another industry if you have a strong sense of adventure and want to learn new things. Whichever move you make, you are more likely to grow your career way faster than you would have at your original company, according to Career Contessa founder Lauren McGoodwin, when she spoke to MarketWatch.

#4 Age is just a number - you are never too young or too old.
The Robert Half study found that millennials (those born 1981 to 1996) are most likely to see job-hopping as good for their careers, and believe it would help them advance in the workforce.

Millennials or not, do not rob yourself of the chance to explore career opportunities when they arise. I met an expat executive recently who is very successful and he admitted he still takes time to meet head hunters. Considering he is just a few years shy of retirement, I was surprised. “It’s always good to know the job landscape available to you, and what your market value is. Whether you choose to stay or leave, you are making an informed decision,” he shared. 

#5 Do not burn bridges, even if they should be blown up.
When people leave their employers, it’s easy to focus on all the reasons why. Your boss has been awful, your team mates were all credit grabbers, Human Resources was inept, your salary was too low, your benefits non-existent, and many, many more.

But remember that it’s a small world, especially if you plan to stay in the same industry. And carrying all that negativity is baggage you do not need. Free yourself and walk away focusing on the good times instead like the skills you learned, networking you built, and experiences that shaped you as a better person.

Unless there is a compelling legal reason to blow up a bridge, I suggest shake their hand and walk away taking comfort that you are moving on to better things and that they are now just in your rear-view mirror.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.