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Is changing jobs good for my career? And how often is too often?

September, 2023
Adam Richardson

Some people change job more frequently than they buy a new phone, for others it is a stressful experience and last resort. But are there benefits to changing job that you are unlikely to get from staying put? What are the risks? And can you change jobs too often? 

The rewards of changing job

The most obvious reward of changing job is the dramatic uplifts in salary that you can achieve. For example, according to our Salary Surveys of Construction, Infrastructure, FM & M&E Contractors in January 2023 and Housebuilders in July 2023 the average pay rise for those moving company is around 16%, while for those who stayed with their current employer that figure averaged just 6% if they received a pay rise at all (34% didn’t). Based on those averages, if you start on £30k and move jobs three times in six years, your salary rises to £57k, whereas if you stay with one employer and achieve a 6% per year rise that figure is more likely to be around £42.5k*.

The other important reward is career development. Moving company is more likely to result in exposure to new people and processes, and so can accelerate the breadth and depth of your experience compared with sticking with one employer. Furthermore, it is often easier to break free of existing perceptions and responsibilities by moving company as your existing employer may be reluctant to lose the knowledge of systems, structures and processes that make you so effective in your current role.

The risks of changing job

Moving company is, of course, a leap into the relative unknown and so carries a risk. In fact, in a Linkedin poll we ran with our network in July 37% said their biggest career regret was a move they made**. That is not to say that changing roles is unwisely risky – for example: had they not made the move they might have regretted that?; is it that they regretted accepting one offer over another?; and how many decisions to move have they made? 1 bad choice in 4 isn’t bad… 

The statistic highlights an important fact though. Interview processes are designed to mitigate risk for the potential employee as well as the employer, so it is important candidates aren’t passive during the process. Don’t avoid asking interviewers difficult questions in the hope it will maximise your chances of securing an offer. Instead, candidates should use each process to interrogate whether the opportunity is the right one for them, an attitude that will also give the employer confidence the candidate is thorough in their approach and that they would be accepting the role with their eyes wide open. 

Even with a thorough interview process there will still be unknowns. It may only be once you are immersed in the workplace that you really know if you’ll enjoy the culture and the work; or whether commitments about career progression and professional development are likely to materialise. However, there is also no way of knowing whether if you stay in your existing role promises of change will materialise and the atmosphere will stay as it currently is. In fact there is a commonly cited statistic that 90% of candidates who accept a counter offer from their existing employer leave within a few months in any case.

The next question that unsettles many candidates about moving roles is whether or not they will be up to the job. According to a LinkedIn poll of 162 of our network, 74% of procurement and supply chain professionals suffer from imposter syndrome at least some of the time in their existing role and so the prospect of starting a new role, with stretching career development opportunities and new colleagues has the potential to be terrifying. 

In our experience, 95% of the time the person hired for a role is more than capable from day one and they will get better and better as they learn the ropes. The low failure rate of candidates appointed should give those considering a move confidence. Recruitment consultants and hiring managers won’t propose candidates for roles they aren’t suitable for as it damages their reputations. Having proposed them, modern recruitment processes are typically both considered and detailed, and not only sort the wheat from the chaff very effectively but also enable interviewers to compare you with other people considered potentially suitable for the role allowing direct benchmarking. 

That is not to say that every job move works out perfectly. Issues of cultural fit, misunderstandings about the scope of roles and required expertise, changes to expected career paths etc do occur. But the majority of job moves work well for both parties and if they don’t, whereas 20 years ago changing job more than twice a decade was considered cause for concern, today two job changes in twelve months is almost never an issue.

Can you change jobs too often?!

Reading the arguments above, it may be tempting to move from company to company every six to eighteen months, however there are downsides to serial job hopping. 

Top of the list is that a CV that reads like a directory of construction companies can damage your future ‘hirability’. Typically, it is months before an employee finds their feet and becomes a profit centre rather than a cost, so if an individual has a track record of moving on quickly then employers may question whether it is worth investing time, energy and money in them, especially if there are candidates available who appear to have greater stickability. 

A lack of long-term commitment to any employer may also suggest to interviewers and recruiters that a candidate has an issue either delivering against what is asked of them or fitting in with colleagues. In either case hiring managers may start to question whether an individual is really going to be the asset the candidate’s abilities at interview suggest. 

Furthermore, while exposure to a broad range of projects, approaches and colleagues can be very valuable, so can aspects associated with becoming embedded in companies and teams. For example, candidates who have spent several years with one employer are more likely to be able to show evidence of persistence when situations become challenging, seeing projects through from start to finish, being accountable for consequences etc. 

There isn’t a formula for deciding whether or not to move, but if your current role isn’t making you happy, if you are undervalued or if you cannot see the progression that you feel you are capable of then give me a call.

*

** In a LinkedIn Poll in June 2023 we asked "What’s you biggest career move regret?”. Of the 176 responses, 37% said a move they’d made, 16% said not accepting a job offer, 11% regretted both making a move and not making one, while 36% have no career regrets.

About the author:

Adam Richardson - Managing Director

Adam has over 20 years’ experience recruiting procurement and commercial professionals across the construction sector.

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