The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers totimely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question: How do you know it’s the right time to switch jobs? is written by John Ambrose, SVP of strategy and corporate development at Skillsoft.
We live in a job market radically different from the one of generations past, where organizations could expect employees to remain at one company for decades. Today’s workforce has flipped that approach on its head. During the recent economic downturn, employees across generations not only became accustomed to frequent job changes, but also watched as millennials came into their own and began to demand a breadth of professional experience from their employers.
I think it’s important, however, for today’s workers to realize that new experience doesn’t necessarily have to be synonymous with jumping ship to a different employer. In fact, in the time it takes to acclimate to a new company, you might take more steps backwards than forward. Before switching jobs to another company, I’d encourage every employee to do an assessment of the resources already available to them within their current organization. It’s rare today to find a leader whose career progression was 100% vertical within an organization. Instead it’s usually the horizontal jumps they made between teams, departments and more along the way that shaped them as leaders and equipped them with the skills to move up the chain of command.
There are three things that are consistently important in any job: tapping into your best skills, continuous learning, and fully understanding your business. If you feel that any of these criteria are not being met in your current role, it may be a good idea to look within your organization first to see where else they may be a better fit.
Exploit your strengths
Excelling in your career is about tapping your best skills and putting them to work every day. Were you a natural leader back in college but haven’t been given a chance to head an initiative, team or even a department? Are you a creative type being forced to stick to templates designed by management that don’t think outside the box? Determine your strengths, build on them and find a means of shifting your responsibilities that will allow you to thrive while utilizing them. If you aren’t able to do what you’re best at, you’re not growing.
Never stop learning
Your learning curve should never flatline. Using the resources at your disposal — everything from mentors and coaches to content training programs — can open new doors and help you drive your own professional development. Continuous learning is a proven successful strategy to becoming a more productive, well-rounded employee — when you learn something new every day, you will never be worse off than you were the day before. The most successful organizations make learning the core of their employees’ daily work flow, leveraging everything from mobile learning apps to data-based content engines.
Understand your business
As I touched on before, people who have their dream job — whether they’re working as part of the C-suite or on a fast-paced new project — almost never follow a straight line to get there. Your understanding of what you want in a job is informed by your understanding of all the moving parts around you as well. No one starts a position on their first day with a complete understanding of the company and how it functions, so why should anyone be averse to learning a different area of the business? Seek out job rotation opportunities and horizontal moves across the company for the greatest potential of securing the career you want the most.
Given that many of us spend over 40 hours per week at our jobs, you owe it to yourself to regularly evaluate your career situation — regular evaluation of your role within a company can have a profound effect on your happiness. There’s an adage in sports that some of the best trades are the ones you don’t make. In the end, you may find the journey to your ideal career role is within your current organization, not elsewhere.