How’s that great salary working out for you? If you work at Microsoft, Google or Amazon it’s clear that you can’t get a better salary in the market, and you tell yourself you are doing the right thing.
Maybe you don’t work at any of those three, but you are doing consulting work charging $125 or $150 per hour or even more and living the dream. Maybe you are happy and doing exactly what you want. Maybe you’re saving for retirement, looking forward to the day you are 55-years-old and have enough to retire.
You can stop reading here if you’re in that group.
But maybe you’re not happy. Maybe you’ re looking for more? Maybe you don’t feel your career is going in the direction you want it to go. Or maybe it did, and it’s not what you expected. Maybe you don’t feel you are making a difference in the world, and now you are stuck.
You can’t just walk away from $160,000 per year, plus bonus plus and all of that stock waiting to vest.
Unfortunately, most of the people that I talk to about leaving their well-paying jobs over optimize their short term gains. “Thirty percent less than I’m making today? That’s absurd! Leaving all the unvested stock? No way!”
When I was growing up, work was a progressive line.
You started by earning a little as an intern. Then, you earned a lot more at your first full-time job. From there, you either received raises or switched jobs to make an even higher salary. Only when you reached a breaking point of unhappiness or frustration would you start to accept a trade-off between salary and doing something fun and meaningful.
Things are quite different now.
Committing to the same company for 10 or 15 years is almost suicidal — maybe suicidal for your career, maybe not, but certainly suicidal for your soul. This is particularly true for folks in the technology industry who were taught that change is the only constant. Once we can’t change anymore, we become unhappy.
The reality, at least for the competent folks, is that you can always get a high-paying job at one of the big companies.
Even during the toughest recession of our lifetime, the top tech companies had tens of thousands of open positions. Better than that, you are more likely to make a higher salary by leaving a company and coming back two years later (because you had to be recruited back) than by staying there for the same period of time.
These companies know that. No wonder the first stock offer for you to join the company is much higher than future offers. They bet on people’s career inertia.
Besides the potential financial gains of getting out and coming back, there is a more important aspect, in my opinion, of getting a new job, career or opportunity and that’s learning new ways of doing things, new methodologies, new work styles, new technologies, new work environments, etc.
It’s much harder to know how to improve your city if you only lived in the same place your entire life. Once you lived in multiple places, you start to form a much better understanding: what’s important, what’s not, what could be improved, what you like and what you don’t like.
Remember how much you learned in that first year at your new job? You learned slightly less the second year and progressively you started to learn less and less and feeling more comfortable getting things done with less effort.
The flip side of that coin is that you are not learning as much in a world that’s changing at faster pace than ever. Basically, staying at the same company for 10 to 15 years is a very, very risky bet, riskier than switching jobs.
New opportunities will not fall into your lap while you sit comfortably at your high-paying job. You have to cross the bridge and see there are plenty of great opportunities waiting for you.
Whether you join another big company, a medium-size company or a startup, switching jobs every three to five years will be a lot more fulfilling and give you the lessons to be a much wiser and happier person, and likely generate a lot more long term wealth and opportunities.
If you feel you have more to offer this world, what are you waiting for? Enough of telling people “someday.” Make “someday” happen today!
Marcelo Calbucci is the Co-founder & CTO of EveryMove, a new Seattle startup inspiring and rewarding people for their healthy lifestyle choices, and the founder of Seattle 2.0. He worked at Microsoft for 7-years before making the leap into startups. You can follow him on Twitter @calbucci or on his blog.