More Than Two Years at a Company is Bad for Your Career
TL;DR: If you don’t change jobs often, you miss out on (1) more money, (2) new experiences and (3) a healthy dose of humility.
You gain nothing by working for the same company for a long time. You’ll get very good at your job; possibly, too good for a promotion. Your employer will consider you to be loyal, but they won’t give you a loyalty bonus. You’ll become comfortable and confident in your role, but you’ll miss out on valuable lessons that challenge you and teach you to stay humble. After about two years, you’ll pass the point of diminishing returns for professional development at one employer.
Eighteen months to two years is the sweet spot for length of employment. For the first two months, you’re exposed to so many new ideas and perspectives, you’re forced to go through a small-scale thought evolution to acclimate to your new work environment. After six months, you’re barely productive; you’ve picked up the basics of all kinds of new skills, and now you’re ready to hone them. Somewhere between one year and fifteen months, you reach the next level; you’re as productive as you’re going to get in your current role, and now you can cruise for a bit. At eighteen months, things are starting to stagnate, and it’s time to move up or out. Unfortunately, up is not always an option.
Changing jobs every year or two has some distinct benefits. Even for the same job title, you have more experience and you can demand a greater salary. With a new job comes new processes, expectations and opportunities, which forces intense professional development. Building relationships with new people who have new styles and preferences exposes you to new ideas and perspectives and develops your ability to collaborate. Every new employment experience you go through dramatically increases the amount of value you can create in an organization.
The job market for knowledge workers is evolving. It’s getting harder for employers to find top talent, and it’s getting easier for talented individuals to get the jobs they want. The amount of intellectually demanding work is only increasing, and this trend will continue into the future. Take advantage of the opportunities that are out there, and don’t become complacent and stagnate in your job.