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At a crossroads: how often should you change jobs to enhance your career?

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It’s tricky to know how best to time a job change.

Move company every six months and you look flighty; alarm bells will ring for prospective employers.

Stay in a role too long and you risk becoming stale. And worse, you may become too comfortable and build an aversion to change.

With millennials facing longer working lives than ever before, it’s important that we learn to stay fresh, relevant and motivated by moving forward every so often.

Read more: meet the women who walked away from high-flying careers for a better work-life balance

But how frequently should we take a left on the great crossroads of life, and change our job for pastures new?

California-based careers expert Dr. Tracey Wilen says every four years is about the optimal time.


Stay fresh by changing direction every four years or so

Speaking after her appearance at the 2016 CFA Institute Annual Conference,this week, Wilen recommends four years as the ideal window from which to construct a coherent career narrative. 

Dr. Tracey Wilen

Dr. Tracey Wilen

“Spend about four years in a role, make a significant, positive — and preferably highly visible — contribution, then make a move,” reads an article by City AM that summarises Wilen’s remarks.

“Employers recognise the benefits that employees with a diverse wealth of knowledge, skills, and experience bring, but they are wary of candidates who seem to flit about and demonstrate a lack of focus. 

Read more: Why and how to change careers in your early thirties

“We can build our narratives by conducting a continuous gap analysis. We need to evaluate, refine, and maintain a clear sense of our career and life goals, and develop an inventory of our skills and strengths. Then we must determine what further experience and expertise we need to realise our aspirations.”

She adds that changing up your role doesn't necessarily mean moving to a different organisation, or going freelance. Renewal can also be achieved by moving to an international office, taking on a new project, or transferring to a different department in your company.

With years to develop your career, it’s easy to become complacent about the need for change.

But as long as you continually audit the skills you have, and those you want to have, you’ll be able to stay fresh and dynamic and move in a positive trajectory. 

Images: iStock



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