The MPW Insiders Network is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: “What’s one thing every woman should know about climbing the corporate ladder?” is written by Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of Ruder Finn.
I recently read a shocking statistic that the “new normal” for millennials is to change jobs four times in their first decade out of college. What does that mean for those who are keen on climbing the corporate ladder? It raises a larger question about when changing jobs can help you grow your career and when it can get you stuck in the wrong position with fewer options. In today’s business world, knowing when to stay and when to move on is critical for those who aspire to advance. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
In any position, you need a leader who inspires you and a team that you can count on. Do you have this in your current position, and if not, can you get it? Having an emotional connection to a leader and chemistry among the team are hard to find—but invaluable if you’re lucky enough to have them. If there are people who are rooting for you and working together with you toward some “big, hairy goals,” this will increase your chances of advancing several steps up the ladder.
See also: Why the Career Ladder Is Overrated
Look in the mirror
Sometimes people ask, “When will I get my next promotion?” But equally important is asking, “Am I making a real contribution?” If you’re making an impact, then your chances of advancing are significant. If you’re not, then it’s important to ask yourself why. Are you engaged? Are you stretching yourself? Are you thinking innovatively and pushing the boundaries? Do you enjoy what you’re doing on the job? Challenging yourself is key to making it to the next level—either in your current position or at another company.
Fight for your move up
Don’t assume that you’re on a list of potential candidates to lead a project or take over a new responsibility. Sometimes people get discouraged when they’re not tapped for an exciting opportunity—but those in charge might have no idea that you even wanted to be in the running. Raise your hand and declare your passion for the assignment. Be persistent and ask for the chance. And build your connection with mentors who can support you in gaining the right opportunities.
Despite the points above, sometimes you might not end up being the best fit for the work environment you’re in. You may find yourself frustrated, afraid you’re not growing or learning, and not looking forward to going to work. It may then make sense to move on—but changing jobs is also a risk. A new boss, new team, and new culture can be great and catapult you forward—but can also require you to adapt to different styles of working, and gain respect from new colleagues.
Climbing the ladder is about hard choices, and there are no easy solutions. It’s key to have people who believe in you. Millennials in the workforce are mapping their own paths, and may face curves and bumps along the way. Women leaders can leverage the positive values of millennials and at the same time help this generational cohort avoid some of the pitfalls that could hold them back.