Changing jobs…when and how?

This post is specifically targeted for college students and young professionals.

One of the things I get asked a lot is — “Given the mobile nature of jobs these days and how common layoffs are, how long should I stay in the same job and how do I move between roles?”

Having coached a couple of my mentees in finding their new roles, I do have some general guidelines that I can share:

  1. Good rule of thumb is 2–3 years between roles. 6 months is too short to learn anything and you’d likely be asked about this in your future job interviews. The exception is if there was a wonderful opportunity that you were given that was irresistible and hard to refuse — by all means, take it! I’m talking more about the “I hate my job, I’m bored, I need a change NOW” scenario that would not reflect well on your resume.
  2. Networking is the key to job mobility — you should not wait to start making connections only when you need a job. I have been keeping my network active since my college years and still reach out to friends for help/advice. I also look to actively grow my network by attending company and industry events every month.
  3. You will have a few Nos before a resounding Yes — that is totally normal. In general, 3–6 months is a good rule of thumb for finding a new job if you hustle everyday (focus and consistency) and look at job postings actively. You will go through a few interviews where you were not a good fit for the role or there was someone else who was a better fit — thank the universe and move on. Believe in yourself and don’t take it personal. Trust me, when the right role and right hiring manager comes along — it will feel as easy as consuming creamy yogurt on a bright, summer mornings day with the birds chirping outside on the trees and singing Hallelujah.
  4. Always ask around to find out if there are openings and stay in tune with what’s going on in your friend groups and industry. Sometimes there may be openings that are a great fit even before you are looking for a job. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you are looking for and to ask your friends to connect you to people who are in the roles/industries you are looking to transition in.

Ultimately, the person who walks through the open door is you. You are the one doing the hard work and the hustling to get that new opportunity. Network, likability and an unshakable belief in yourself certainly help a lot, in addition to the skills and drive to do the job. Sometimes job hunting is like sports — unpredictable. You try so hard and keep losing…then suddenly have a white hot winning streak of several offers out of nowhere. Keep trying, trusting and having faith — it will all work out in time!

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Sufen

I make hardware smart by integrating new technology with state-of-the-art software. Passionate about bridging the gap between industry and STEM education.