I've always looked forward to returning to writing about career-building, so, for my first piece for Geeky Pinas' readership of young professionals, I'm going to begin with the end in mind: by writing about resignations.  But don't expect any downloadable resignation letter templates here (and neither will I give you links)!

In a perfect world, one only has to choose a place of work once and enjoy his tenure for as long as his productive years would allow.  We, earthlings, however, do not live in a perfect world.  And, with the advent of ubiquitous technology—mobile phones, tablet computers, and lately, “phablets”—we became just as ubiquitous.  The better word, perhaps, is entropic: hardly ever being able to stay put for long for reasons unknown or undefined, even to one's self.

In the grand scheme of things, change ought to spice up our lives to satisfy our neural wiring for 500-or-so talents.   But as far as our professional lives are concerned, does changing jobs have to happen a dozen-or-so times in a span of five years (or less)?  The next logical question should be: When will we be satisfied to stay long enough?

While I have not read any study here in the Philippines concerning young professionals and their durations of stay in their present work places, I do find it safe to say these: two years in the same organization is long by today’s standards, and a fifth anniversary deserves a loyalty medal. Five or more, you’re an institution and they should build you a statue.  So, is it wrong—professionally or morally—to leave every company you’re currently in on a whim?

Yes and no.  No, because leaving per se is not a crime and not a sin, unless you really intend to take it to such levels (just don’t).  And yes, because while it is relatively easy to earn money with every output of work, good will and trust are not.  Such is the physics of labor in society: the former is easy for everyone to grasp, while the latter transcends physics as we know it.

Like I said, no downloadable "I resign...<<state your freakin' reason>>" forms here!  When it comes to that, you're on your own.

I’ll now discuss why it would be wrong to be changing jobs a little too often.

The human revolver—you’re the ammunition, not the gun

There can be many reasons for leaving your present company, but let me guess two very likely ones: the other company has an offer you can’t refuse, and your present one does not satisfy you (which may also have its own reasons).

How soon one leaves from the date of hiring is relative to individuals, but let me define this rule of thumb: if you leave just before your regularization or your first year, that’s too soon.  So what can possibly happen to you and your career?  Let’s take it from the perspective of the one who will hire you next (one of whom could be me).

  • You will not have been exposed to enough projects and activities.
  • You will not have allowed your previous companies to invest in you (through training, performance incentives or promotions).
  • You will not have built enough trust and good will from your superiors and peers for them to speak well of you.
  • You will not have practiced your skills well enough on projects to know what you specialize in (or if your specialization has changed).
  • You will not have contributed enough advantageous outputs to your previous employer’s business.
  • You would not have built enough connections with your previous employer’s business partners.

Six disadvantages are a lot when in a crucial job-hunt.  I’ll consolidate them into just three, but mind you, disadvantages are disadvantages—their very nature is to work against you.

  • No track record, just half-baked work experiences;
  • Taking any job that pops on your radar means no specialization, no career direction; and
  • You will likely be tagged as a “job hopper” (non-committal and unlikely to be a team-player).
Since I began talking about the "grand scheme of things" earlier, I have this to say before I forget: A person who can't stay put in one's job long enough is not one to see the bigger picture, which includes consequences to one's self, organization and society at large.

Get your head in the game

As an interviewer of applicants many times than I cared to count, we look for people we can invest in to work with the company in the long haul, creatively contribute his talents and skills, and bear the company’s best interests before its partners.  These require focus, as well as commitment.  No one can ever be at the top of his game always divided between two masters: one real and one that is real only in your wishful thinking.

If you find yourself often unsatisfied about your jobs, ask yourself if it’s the job or it’s just you.  Sometimes, we are the ones stoking our own dissatisfaction at work, effectively becoming our own worst enemy that divides us at work and consumes our creativity and effectiveness.

Before you take on yet another job, do your preparations.  Visualize your idea of career growth, and scout for the right organizations you can align yourself with.  I say right, not perfect, organization.  Be realistic with your material expectations and don’t always equate career growth with money and perks.  Over time, allow the company to invest in your training and represent them before business partners.  Lastly, be patient and get your head in the game.

How would you know it’s time to leave?  It will be time to leave when you find yourself somewhat attached to leave.  Leave with good will and your previous company could just be your most effective partner in your next job hunt.

Related past articles from my previous publication, Edgewise.PH by Bronze Age Media:
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