Job Jumping: The New Corporate Ladder
"Job Jumping: The New Corporate Ladder
by Gordon Miller
When I was first entering the job market many years ago, I was under the impression I would work for one, maybe two companies during the course of my soon-to-be illustrious career. Why wouldn't I think that way? After all, that's what we were taught, right? My Dad worked for the same place for 43 years. Long-term employment was the norm. And in those days long-term meant decades. (I mean how much difference was there between a 1951 and 1961 toaster?)
The Old Model says that Workers are faithful, loyal, trustworthy and true. They toil long and hard and get small annual raises, work 5 years before the big promotion comes along, another 5 years for the corner office (or its equivalent). The process was slow, but it was usually reliable. Usually. The Company would give us job security in return for our loyalty. It seemed to work for everyone.
It may not anymore. The Rules have changed. Companies tore up the "employment contract" starting in the late Eighties and early Nineties. They had to. The Global Economy and the advent of Technology forced many organizations to re-invent the way they do business. It's no more Business as Usual. Companies must now put themselves in the position to quickly respond to competitive pressures. They like the flexibility to be able to adjust their own workforce at a moment's notice. They welcome people who are "change agents" and who understand the nature of the New Workplace.
The exciting news about this fundamental change is that most of us are now in a position to change jobs and even change careers mid-stream. We are now able to move from one employer to the next without repercussion of being looked at as a "job hopper." In fact, some of today's more progressive companies get concerned if you have been with the same firm too long. (My Dear Old Dad wouldn't understand that one.) We can now be an important part of making great things happen with one company, then move on and do the same for another firm while our value increases exponentially.
This new thinking is called strategic job jumping. It is replacing the concept of climbing the Corporate Ladder in order to get promotions, more responsibility, and all the perks that follow. It can provide you with the opportunity to get the work you want and achieve the balance you want in your non-work life. Here's how to proceed:
- Think of job jumping as a career plan. It's not something you do because you don't like your boss or new cubicle. It is strategic rather than impulsive. It is different than what you were taught, but mirrors what is happening with most companies and industries today.
- Do Your Homework. Spend 15-30 minutes each day on the Internet (especially HotJobs.com) or reading current periodicals to better understand what's happening in the workplace. For example, the December 6, 1999, Business Week cover story was titled "The Wild New Workforce."
- Get With the Right Company in the Right Industry. Now that you have done your research, target 4 or 5 companies in a growing industry as prospective employers. Go to Career Fairs. Talk to business leaders to get the lay of the land. You should always be networking.
- Market Yourself to the Targeted Company. You can no longer wait for the Mountain to move your way. Even in this tight labor market, people are changing jobs regularly. You can't afford to just respond to a want ad or mail a resume and expect to get great results. You must make the decision-maker aware of who you are and what great knowledge, skills, and accomplishments you will bring to them.
- Great Interviews Win Great Jobs. When you finally get in front of the person hiring you, focus on the passion you have for being part of their team. Tell them about why your skills will transfer and why you will be an immediate impact player. Today's best employers want people who are excited about what the company does and who have figured out how their skills will be of value to the firm.
- Have an Immediate, Positive Impact. Don't think long-term. The company doesn't want you to. Besides, there are very few companies who provide extended training prior to you actually going to the front-line. Present the boss a plan of what you think you can do to help the firm accomplish its goals today, not down the road.
- Always Look. This one is hard for some of us. Always be thinking about your next job. Be "fiercely loyal" to your present employer while there, but start researching and networking for the next jump.
- Leave When You Are on Top. This one is key. Don't leave because things aren't going great. Leave when things are terrific, when you get the big raise, when you win "employee of the year." That's when you will be in a position of strength to better negotiate your next deal.
Remember, the Workplace Rules have changed. We now have the chance to try new jobs, work for different companies, and be involved with more fun and exciting assignments. In a sense, it's a payoff for all our years of hard work and dedication. Enjoy it!"
<Note from JobFairy.com: Remember to always pay yourself first. This article has good advice about not trusting your current employer to provide you much more than a paycheck. The rest is up to you.>