I spoke with the interviewer on the phone. My qualifications were spot on, my resume ideal, and the personality a great fit for the position at hand. Then came the question…. “Our company uses SAP… are you familiar with that program?”
Truth is, I wasn’t. I had come from a company where I had spent 10 years of my working career. We utilized software that was designed in house. I helped design certain aspects of that software. I became familiar not only with how to use our software but also the ins and outs of the formulas behind the values that were output.
Did any of that matter?
I don’t believe so. In the eyes of this hiring manager, as soon as I said I had not utilized SAP before, I might have well just said I have never used a computer.
Whether you consider the hiring manager correct or not; one thing I learned that day is that my lack of job hopping had hurt my employment opportunities.
Through not exposing myself to many programs and different systems, I had become that employee that just didn’t have the right specs. TLDR; Loyalty had cost me what could have been a lucrative gig.
This interview and lack of job offer has me asking, “Is job hopping good for your career?”
The True Cost of Loyalty
In the above example, my loyalty to my former employer cost me real income. Rather than being exposed to many different programs, managers, and ways of doing something via job hopping, I remained comfortable in the mastery mindset that comes from ‘job nesting’.
I don’t blame the interviewer. This hiring manager was with one of the biggest companies around and had his pick of the cream of the crop. Though I might hit on 95 out of 100 aspects on his depth chart, there will probably be 10 people that hit on 96 out of 100 points that would love to be in this position.
Nor do I blame my previous company. They were good to me, gave me steady raises, and kept me in a level where I was comfortable enough to not want to leave. They did their job.
While I do not blame myself for this predicament, I have to take a moment to reflect on what I gave up by choosing such long-term loyalty. Rather than go out and explore opportunities to learn and grow, I was a job nester.
Job Nesting vs. Job Hopping
I consider myself a loyal person in all aspects of my life. Whether it is in my personal, romantic, or business relationships, I am someone that can be counted on for staying true, through and through.
While this is a great attitude and character trait, I can now see the drawbacks of this mindset as well. I do not regret my 10 years spent at a commodity trading firm, but I do also recognize that I spent time above and beyond my calling was a mistake.
In about my 6th year in, I felt as though it was time to begin exploring new career and company options. I had learned all I was going to learn and felt the beginnings of ‘going through the motions’ going in.
But I was comfortable. I was an expert at what I was doing. I was someone that people went to when they needed things done. My role was clearly established and that was part of the issue; there was limited room for growth.
In my nesting mindset, I was comfortable with lack and growth and so was my company. While I did assume projects that expanded my comfort zone of skill sets from time-to-time, mainly I was relegated to doing what I did well and only what I did well.
Rather than learning new programs, learning from new managers, and learning new skills sets, I took my mastery and maximized skill set and applied that day-in and day-out. The growth had stopped.
Enter today. Seems like I am learning something new each and every moment. I had to learn WordPress to create my site MoneyByRamey.com. Learning from the ground up, I had to become efficient and skilled quickly in order to build the business.
Now I offer website design services via my consulting company, Ramey Consulting. I also had the chance to bring on Red Wing Shoes as a consulting client and am currently on their site M-F each week. In this position, I have learned:
- Their 3rd party vendor portal
- JP Morgan’s payment screen
- Various invoice entry system (Ariba, Tulia, etc.)
- Skype for Business
The change can sometimes seem overwhelming, but in the end it is a boon to my overall career and consulting goals.
Rather than sit back and idly do a thing that I have mastery over, I am expanding my horizons by doing things that take a ‘growth’ mindset.
The results: massive learning and growth.
The Benefits of Job Hopping
The job hopping mindset has infiltrated and fed into my entrepreneurial way of thinking. Since I have gone from working only one position for 10 years to gaining multiple clients through my consulting business, I can now see the many benefits of job hopping.
You Learn New Skills
When you take on a new position, you will naturally learn new skills associated with the position. While the high-level responsibilities will usually be similar, the tools and ways of achieving success will be quite different.
I am currently learning Salesforce, which is a program highly utilized by many companies throughout the US and the world. Until this time, I have not had the experience with the program, but now that I am working it on a daily basis, I can see why it is so successful.
When learning these new skills, you become more marketable to companies looking for well-rounded individuals with vast skill sets.
You Gain New Experiences
When in a position at a mastery level, life can become stagnant. I don’t knock mastering a topic; rather I extol the benefits of adopting a growth mindset.
In my own life, if I arrive at a point where new experiences are few and far in-between, I become a bit stir crazy and life becomes stagnant. Unless I feel like I am moving forward, I have a general sense of unease.
This is why changing jobs, and even careers, has become more appealing to me. I feel that through exposing myself to new situations, people, and circumstances, I am experiencing so much newness which results in growth.
The result is a sense of renew, invigoration, and joy.
You Learn New Ways of Doing Things
Another prime benefit of job hopping is that you learn new ways of doing things. Often times – for better or worse – most companies are set in their ways of how things are done.
When I was 22 in my first full-time position Fortune 100 company Cenex Harvest States, I remember suggesting a project change that would vastly decrease the time that we would need to spend producing a report.
My manager responded with something along the lines of, “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” I learned later that the department was in upheaval as they had not performed well over the long-term. Their risk management team had all been fired and a changing of the guard was in the works.
Though my manager wasn’t directly to blame for the issues at hand, it was the overall mindset that had the company in the no growth mode which signaled my department’s inevitable downfall.
It wasn’t all bad though as I learned much from that position. I learned how to engage in best practices which I brought with me to my next company. I was able to translate these skills and mentality into my very next position.
In the next position at US Commodities, they were in distress and needed someone with the improvement and best practices background. I went from a very conservative, rule-based culture to one where it was primarily wild-wild west; if you could make money or improve processes, you would be rewarded handsomely.
I find that I am better off for having learned both systems and processes. I now take each of these differently mentalities to my current consulting clients.
You Are Exposed to Different Leaders
When I was younger, I used to think that leadership didn’t really matter all that much. Boy, was I wrong. After exposure to different companies, I am seeing just how important solid leadership really is for any organization.
Being exposed to different leadership might be one of the most important elements on this list. I am a firm believer in the wisdom that you can learn something from every single person; sometimes it happens to be what to do, and sometimes it happens to be what not to do.
I have been blessed in my career to have leaders on both sides of the aisle. With each exposure to a different leader, I am able to assimilate that knowledge and wisdom into my own daily interactions.
It Is the Best Way to Get a Raise
Often times, the best way to get a raise is to seek out positions where you can leverage your skill sets for an organization that is looking the same. It can be challenging – if not impossible – for most people to get a significant raise at their current employer.
Without some form of leverage (i.e. job offer), your employer is disincentivized to give you more money as you are ‘locked’ into a current contract.
This isn’t to say that you can’t get more money. In fact, I have negotiated significant raises during my career. However, I have only done so by “feeling out” the markets and bringing this pertinent information to my employer.
Combined with solid performance and the improvements I brought to the company, they had no choice but to give me a raise to keep me around.
However, even this had its limitations. I reached a point where any pay increase would encroach on the organization’s maximum that they were willing to pay.
I was doing more, but getting the same level of payment. The only way I could earn more was to seek out employers that would pay me my market value, which is why I left for greener pastures.
For those interested, I wrote about my learnings here.
It Is A Good Trajectory
Becoming a master at something is needed in any organization. However, it can quickly become a negative if you are seen as irreplaceable or become known simply as the ‘Insert Pigeonhole here” person.
By job hopping, you gain different skills and experiences that will benefit you down the road. Not only will you have learned more skills to translate into new ventures, but you will become a more well rounded individual which will help you in your future career aspirations.
I remember reading a story about a CEO’s path to the top office. He took a position which, in the eyes of many, was a step down from where he was at in the company. Instead of a vertical move, it was perceived as more horizontal.
While it seemed like a negative move to most people in the organization, he saw it as a positive. By taking on this new role, he would be learning more about the company’s overall operations and as a result, would be more well-rounded as a result.
He ended up being chosen as the CEO because of this diverse movement throughout the organization.
The Grass Just Might Be Greener
Last but not least, the grass just might be greener on the other side. I believe a large part of what held me back from job hopping is the idea that I would arrive in a situation that was worse than I was currently at. Here was my ‘nesting’ mindset:
- I made a lot of money
- I enjoyed working with many of the people in my company.
- I had a pretty cushy schedule from and hours perspective
- I traveled quite a bit and enjoyed that aspect of my job.
At the end of the day, I now see my overall question was: if I leave this position, would I arrive at a better situation than the one I am currently in?
From the beginning, my general idea was ‘no’. It took a lot of soul searching and about 1 year of personal development work. I hired on a life coach, wrote in my journal to assemble and dissect my thoughts, and took time to think through the decision.
Once I walked into my boss’s office and gave my two week notice, I knew that it was the right move. I didn’t know what was next, but I knew it would be the right decision.
In changing my mindset to think through the decision as more positive, I gradually became ready to make the change. I also trusted that God would see me through whatever came my way. I can now truly say that the grass is indeed greener.
You can read more about my journey in The Uncomfortable Comfort.
Is Job Hopping Right for You?
Please don’t read this article and go out and quit your job tomorrow. I mean, if that is where you are at, then by all means make that decision and trust in the journey.
Rather, the main point I wanted to get across in this article is the idea that I now see the positives in job hopping. Before I used to view it as something that was to be dreaded and avoided as it would be too much work or that it would be view poorly.
Now I see it as the stepping stones to the type of future that I want. Not only will I have the chance to have a general sense of growth, but I will also have the chance to earn more money as a result of a gradually increasing pay-grade.
This increase in pay comes through learning more, doing more, and leveraging these skills across companies looking to hire for them. Job hopping is working for me – maybe it will work for you too?
What do you think? Do you see job hopping as a good way forward, or would employees do better working for a company for many years?
Comment below and get the conversation started!