Yes, the uncertainty in the economy might make one wary about changing jobs.  Even though it’s the equivalent of an employment urban myth, many people believe that “the last one to be hired is the first one to be fired” during bad times. However, from a purely strategic point of view, there are 4 strategic reasons for changing jobs within the same (or similar) industry three times during your first 10 years of employment:

  1. It gives you a broader base of experience.  After about three years, you’ve learned most of what you’re going to know about how to do your job.  Therefore, over a 10-year period, you gain more experience from “three times 90 percent” than “one time 100 percent.”
  1. A more varied background creates a greater demand for your skills.  You’re not only familiar with your current company’s products, service, procedures, quality programs, and so forth, but you also bring the expertise you’ve gained from your previous employment.
  1. A job change can result in an accelerated promotion cycle.  Each time you make a change, you can bump up a notch on the promotion ladder.  You jump, for example, from Project Engineer to Senior Project Engineer or National Sales Manager to Vice President of Sales and Marketing.
  1. More responsibility leads to greater earning power.  A promotion is usually accompanied by a salary increase.  And since you’re being promoted faster, your salary grows at a quicker pace, sort of like compounding the interest you’d earn on a certificate of deposit.

You should always be sure that your new job offers you the means to satisfy your values.  While there’s no denying the strategic virtues of selective job changing for the purposes of greater career leverage, make sure the path will take you where you really want to go.

There’s no reason to change jobs only for more money if it will make you unhappy to the point of distraction.  While financial rewards, compensation, and career advancement all have their place, the “best” job is the one in which your values are being satisfied most effectively.

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