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Talent Talk: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Image: Andrey Popov/Adobe Stock businessman staring at text: should I stay or should I go?
In last week’s column, we laid out the benefits of changing jobs every few years. But there are also compelling reasons to stay put, not the least of which is the plastics industry's impulse to promote employees to leadership positions from within.

Last week we started discussing the topic of whether it is a good thing to change jobs frequently. Perhaps surprisingly, there is some growing evidence that it is beneficial for employees, and an emerging mindset from some employers that it can be a good thing for them, as well.

So, can we conclude that you should change jobs every two to five years? As the Wizard of Oz said, “Not so fast! Not so fast!” Let us objectively analyze the “sticking around” option just like we did the “moving on” approach.

The first thing that stands out to me in our plastics industry is that most companies still prefer to promote their leadership from within. If your goal is to be your company’s president, VP, or director, your path may be more direct if you stay with your company and advance internally.

Also, although I might be a baby boomer trying to step back and take an objective look at this issue, there are still many in positions of hiring authority who don't share my approach and will look askance at "job hoppers." Many companies have unwritten rules that immediately disqualify candidates — no more than three jobs in 10 years, for example. 

Another consideration involves looking at the long game of your life. Making job changes often requires relocation, and “coming back home” when life events make that necessary is not always so simple. Everyone must find their own career/life balance.

One final thought on the compensation difference that “job hoppers” experience. There are some other factors that can get lost in the computations, such as 401(k) matches. Often employees will not qualify for a match the first year, so if you are changing jobs every two years, you will lose half of your potential matches. When compounded over the course of your working career, that could add up to a sizeable amount.

Is job hopping good or bad? Like most things in life, “it depends” is usually the right answer.


About the author

Paul Sturgeon is CEO of KLA Industries, a national search firm specializing in plastics, packaging, and polymer technology. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, a company that is growing, or other ideas for this blog, e-mail Sturgeon at [email protected].

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