I started my first real job a little more than five years ago. I hadn’t given much thought to my career trajectory but I just assumed I’d probably spend five or so years there and if I wasn’t at the position I wanted to be at I’d move on. I remember the shock and awe I felt when I met people who had been at the company since it launched in 1980! More than 20 years at the same company, many of those years spent in the same position. They hadn’t ever worked anywhere else and were not looking for any other opportunities. At the time I wondered, is that the dream? Is that success?
After about two years at said company, we learned of a huge restructuring. Also known as layoffs. Those who had been at the company longest—and who were making the most money after 20+ years of raises—were told they could either reapply for their jobs or take a buyout. After all that time they were basically told, “we need you to take less money or you’ll be replaced with younger people who will.”
After only five years in the corporate world I’ve witnessed this situation several times. Yet I know people who haven’t updated their resume in years. People who aren’t working to develop any skills outside of what’s needed in their current position. People who haven’t updated their LinkedIn profile since they created one back in 2012.
Here’s the moral of this story: you should always be searching for a job.
There should never come a time when you’re so comfortable in your current position that you take yourself completely off the market. Think of your current job as a relationship. You guys may be serious, but if you’re not married, you’re single!
My advice to all young people entering the professional world or those who have been there for a little while is to never think of your current location as your final destination. You should constantly keep your materials updated and even apply for jobs and take interviews. Why? Because you need to know your value in the market. Those interviews may reveal to you that you’re being underpaid at your current job. That gives you leverage when it comes time to negotiate a raise. If your current job isn’t trying to cooperate, you know that you can get what you deserve elsewhere. You should also keep yourself on the market so that you can be ready if you should ever experience that horrible restructuring I mentioned before. If you’ve been networking you can always reach back out to those contacts and let them know you’re on the market looking for a new opportunity. If you’ve been keeping your cover letter, resume and LinkedIn profile updated, you can immediately blast them out. If you’ve ever waited too long to update those materials, you know how frustrating it can be to tackle it all at once.
Regardless of your current employment situation, make sure you’re ready for whatever comes your way, and make sure you’re never so comfortable in the current position that you close yourself off to great opportunities. Company loyalty should never surpass your loyalty to yourself and your growth!