Have You Been in Your Job Too Long? – Part One

Back in the day, as children, we all had our dreams. We were going to be doctors, lawyers, astronauts, or NRL players. Then reality sets in. The cost of university deters you from going. And then you realise the chances of you making it to the NRL are small. Then you settle. You settle, you settle, and then you settle some more. There are many signs that you have been in your job too long, and it’s time to look for a little inspiration to get yourself in gear and make a change.

Is everyone in the office younger than you? Do have socks older than your manager? Aging is weird. It sneaks up on you. But when the day comes that all the new people seem like children to you, then you know that maybe you’ve been there a little too long. 

Or have you just become too comfortable? Are you less an employee than part of the furniture?  The challenge in staying in the same job for years is that when it’s time to look for a new role, the perception can be that your career has stalled. Career management is managing your career the same as you manage every other piece of your life. We need to be forever learning and improving our skillset, being current, being flexible, being up on technology and being aware of what’s going on in the industry. A big piece of the issue is knowing how to market yourself. Have you had many roles within that company? Have you been with the organisation through times of change? Be clear about your own personal branding statement – what you bring to the table that no one else does.

Have you been in your job too long?

Once upon a time, not that long ago, it was considered a sign of loyalty and achievement to stay in one job. ‘A job for life’ was a gold standard and a status to strive toward. With today’s job environment, that’s no longer a realistic option for many of us. With plentiful opportunities and broader options, today’s job seekers demand more from their employers. This means they’re more likely to hop around different companies until they find the conditions they want. 

The truth is that these days, we only increase our skills by trying new things. Staying in the same job does not give the same opportunity to try new things that a person gets by changing assignments. It boils down to this – have you actually had twenty years of experience – or one year, repeated twenty times? Is fear keeping you from moving on? Fear that you’ve become institutionalised in your role, and it’s safer to just stay put than to upset the whole apple cart? Inertia in a career can happen because of the fear of making a move. They say that usually, you make a change when the pain of where you are is greater than the pain of the unknown. It’s a common issue that a lot of people deal with – that feeling of being stuck. If this sounds like you, it’s a good time to start brainstorming about ways to make a change. Take it in steps because it took you a long time to get you to that point of feeling stuck. It may take a few steps to get out of it as well.

It should be said though, that being in one job for ten years or more, but having demonstrably moved up the ladder via promotions is not the same thing as having one job title for the same amount of time. And let’s face it, a lucrative job can sometimes be like a siren song – it pulls you in because the money is too attractive to resist, but then you find yourself in a role that makes you unhappy. For instance, you took a role as a consultant because the pay is high, but now you don’t have any work-life balance because your career is all-encompassing.

Next time, we’ll look at more signs that show you need to think about moving on, and how to do it.

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How to Maintain Focus at Work
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Have You Been in Your Job Too Long? – Part Two