change jobs every three years

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Why Headhunters Advise Applicants to Change Jobs Every Three Years

Headhunter Christian Pape recommends that candidates should change jobs every three years. Over the course of an average career, this equals out to an average of 13 transitions – is this the future of our job market?

change jobs every three years

Frequently changing one’s job can benefit your career… as long as it’s done for good reason.

Inflexible Applicants Are Unattractive for Hiring Managers

“HR managers want applicants that have worked in various different corporate cultures,” says headhunter Christian Pape. Experience counts – as does flexibility. Frequently changing one’s job was always a sign of dissatisfaction for generations past – has it now become a mandatory practice?

“Narrow careers, where applicants spend their entire professional life with only one employer are no longer relevant for today’s times;” says Pape. Especially in quickly evolving industries like IT, where a lot can change in only a short amount of time, it can be a real disadvantage for candidates to spend their careers in only one position. Pape advises candidates to consider switching jobs regularly – it also serves the candidate better, because every year spent in the same company makes the employer more dependent on a candidate’s performance. And in cases where one suddenly finds themself without a job – perhaps in the case where a company must apply for bankruptcy – the job search can be very difficult. “The more experience a candidate has gathered from a combination of different jobs, and various working cultures, the easier it’ll be for them to find a new position.”

It’s Time to Branch Out and Grow – But When?

So, should candidates throw away all of their hard work after every year and move on? “No, that’s not the case – at least, not based on one impulse,” says Pape. “There must be some sense behind a job change.” Those who switch jobs constantly and without any real reason give the impression that they’re “trigger-happy,” and less than ambitious. Three years is a safe timeframe for an individual to work at a company and slowly consider switching jobs, says Pape.

As an average career spans roughly 40 years, this would mean switching jobs 13 times. Is this realistic, or overly ambitious? And more than anything – what about identifying with your employer?

According to studies, there’s always a reason behind an employee’s desire to leave a company. Employees who identify strongly with their company rarely switch jobs, explains Til Lohmann, an HR expert from the PwC consulting group. And employers can also appreciate the importance, as loyalty has a great effect on company revenue.

Identification with one’s company leads to higher satisfaction. So why do employers still struggle with the concept of employee motivation?

Experienced Employees: Try a Little Consistency

Perhaps a job is like love. In our early years, we try to experience a wide variety, collecting impressions and determining our wants and needs. In our careers, we ask ourselves the same: What do I want? What am I looking for? “I recommend that candidates should try to switch jobs frequently in the first half of their career, in order to expand their experience,” says Pape. In the second half of their careers, one should be more consistent and try to stick closer to one employer. The lucky candidates will determine relatively quickly what the “right” employer looks and feels like for them.

At some point, a varied collection of experiences won’t be enough to make a difference in your career. Those who have found thesmelves in a company that they like, can identify with, and would like to “climb the career ladder” with, will need patience and endurance. Three years might be too quick. In this case, switch your mindset: stay a little longer. At least until you feel that familiar itch to change once more…


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