Who were you in a past life?

My father has changed companies once in his professional life. My grandfather twice. But in today’s world employees change companies every 4.4 years. At the same time, companies are investing more than ever in building a strong culture and increasing retention. In the middle of this crisis are the employees, trying to stay above the next layoff line while secretly updating their resume and adding connections.

When I first entered the professional world, the job search advice I took most to heart was to sell myself. When I got my MBA and hit the trail, I wrote each cover letter and edited each resume version to perfectly match the culture, industry, and job position of the company I was applying to. It worked perfectly because recruiters have been trained to look for applicants that match the company culture. So I get the job, get the branded swag, become ingrained in the culture, and start my path to the top.

But the problem is every 4.4 years the grass looks greener and we switch jobs, rewrite our history, and create a new version of ourselves to match where we want to go next. We rewrite our resumes, change our social media brand, and ultimately change our identity to match where we want to go.

“In a past life, we used market feedback to measure success,” a colleague once said in a meeting. The phrase surprised me. Why a past life? I thought to myself. Is that what a previous job is equivalent to? A past life? The truth is that we have to buy in to each iteration of our professional life and show full devotion. Previous roles, previous companies, and previous experiences are all important but firmly in the past, replaced by a new opportunity, a new objective, and a new you.

Every 4.4 years we start a new job, head into work, and create an identity that matches what the culture expects of us. It’s not until we take step back that we realize our identities have become as fluid as the economies and businesses we work in, ready to adapt and refresh in an instant to changing market conditions.