A couple of years ago, one of my best friends was let go from his job.
He had spent the previous 14 years climbing the ranks of a large corporate, ultimately landing a senior, well-remunerated position.
Unfortunately, the organization he worked for employed an up-or-out approach. One can only walk the tightrope for so long.
Below him, the next generation of talent was relentlessly pushing their way up.
Above, there were no openings, courtesy of the company’s pyramid structure. Incumbents had absolutely no desire to leave.
Unsurprisingly, my friend’s name ended up on the redundancy list. A couple of weeks later, he was out.
Jumping ahead, let me say that things worked out well in the end.
Said friend is now gainfully (and much more happily) employed in a totally different, and much more flexible environment.
That being said, it wasn’t an easy ride. And what made things particularly tough for him is that he had not looked for a new job in his 14 years with the company.
Forest For The Trees
By nature, humans are inert creatures.
When things work well (or well enough), we are hesitant to disrupt the balance.
Why bother? There are far more enjoyable ways to spend our time than to put ourselves out there looking for new employment.
It requires time, focus, and effort.
Most importantly, it comes with a high likelihood of rejection.
And yet, putting yourself out there is one of the highest ROI initiatives you can think of.
For me, the revelation came when I resigned from my first job in investment banking.
I (thought) I was part of a highly loyal team. Everyone was treated fairly, people were happy, and we had very little churn.
As a result, I stayed there for five years, turning down multiple competing proposals along the way.
It was only when I resigned that the curtain finally lifted, and I realized that most (if not all) members of the team had lined up another job at one time or another.
Not only that, but they’ve used to the competing offers to sweeten their existing gig by negotiating pay raises, securing promotions, lining up overseas assignments, or finding other ways to improve their positions.
Whether we like it or not, the vast majority of us will spend anywhere between 20 and 40+ years working in the corporate world.
Maximizing your ROI on that time is a must if you are serious about building wealth.
With that in mind, here are five sure reasons to look for a new job this year:
#1: You Work In A Stagnating / Declining Industry
This one is a no-brainer.
Companies that operate in challenged sectors typically compete for a shrinking pool of revenues.
This inevitably leads to market consolidation and a ruthless focus on costs.
As a result, you will find yourself fighting tooth and nail for every raise and promotion – all while constantly looking over your shoulder for the next round of layoffs.
Anyone working in the airline, physical retail, oil and gas, or hospitality industries today should at least consider their options.
Life is too short to waste it circling the plughole.
#2: Your Company Has Fallen On Hard Times
As disloyal as it may sound, this is a clear sign it’s time to hit the eject button.
First of all, chances are you may end up on the chopping block yourself as your employer looks to right-size the cost structure.
Even if you don’t, company turnarounds take a long time.
In the meantime, it will likely be a hunger march with freezes on pay and promotions and a whole bunch of “do more with less” – all against a backdrop of a stressful environment.
Finally, let’s face it – even if your employer does recover, it’s not like they will make you whole for all the missed opportunities.
There is no such thing as corporate loyalty.
#3: You Are At Risk Of Getting Laid Off
A long time ago, a colleague of mine told me:
“Damian, a job is like a girlfriend. It’s MUCH easier to find one if you already have one.”
He may not have been a great relationship expert, but he sure was right when it comes to employment.
If you think are at risk for whatever reason, you need to line up a new gig ASAP. Once you are unemployed, you lose pretty much all the bargaining power.
#4: You Want A Raise Or A Promotion
The hard way to move up the ranks is to work your butt off, be a good corporate citizen, and be patient – all while your employer dangles that raise or promotion carrot and makes you jump ever higher.
It also happens to be the path 99% of the people follow.
The way most successful people do it (as my former colleagues aptly illustrated) is to line up a new gig – and watch the Sesame open as your employer tries to keep you in place.
#5: You Want To Build A Network
In my experience, the people with the broadest (and most effective) networks are the ones who have moved around the industry a number of times in their career.
It’s pure math.
Moving companies twice means you will have worked with twice the number of people.
And because those people also change jobs once in a while, at some point you are bound to end up with a network across your entire industry.
Whether it’s securing the right introductions, winning new business, lining up a new job, or simply bumping into a friendly face on your next project, having a broad professional network can pay meaningful dividends over the course of your career.
Even if you don’t end up changing jobs, the very activity of meeting headhunters, catching up with old colleagues, and interviewing for external roles can help you materially elevate your profile within your chosen sector.
Reasons To Look For A New Job: Exceptions To The Rule
As ever, there are a few.
Probably the biggest reason to stay put (unless you think you might get chopped) is having a powerful champion.
I’ve seen this play out a number of times in my career.
A powerful manager has a trusted team. Moreover, he (or she) is on a very strong upward trajectory – and has the track record of elevating his employees along the way.
To the extent you have conviction on your manager’s prospects – and loyalty – you may want to stick around.
Nothing in life is free. You will be expected to demonstrate unquestionable loyalty and work your fingers to the bone to enable your champion’s future success.
Anything less and you’ll be left by the wayside, often in the most ruthless manner possible.
Another reason to have a committed relationship with your employer is if you have been tagged as one of the future leaders of the company.
Contrary to what most people think, a “stay here and you’ll do well” comment by your manager doesn’t qualify.
Those who have been selected, know it.
They are part of leadership programmes, recipients of retention payments, participants in (real) mentorship schemes, and have regular conversations with HR and senior management about their future career path.
Most importantly, all of this is kept on the down low.
No need to demotivate the troops. Let them march along, delightfully unaware that any of the above exists in the first place.
If you are in one of the two groups above, you’re in a great place – in all likelihood a sign of talent and tenacity.
Everyone else would be well advised to refresh their CV. In retrospect, this may be your biggest money move of 2021.
Thank you for reading!
PS: You may also be interested in the posts below:
About Banker On Fire
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Banker On FIRE is an M&A (mergers and acquisitions) investment banker. I am passionate about capital markets, behavioural economics, financial independence, and living the best life possible.
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