Ready for an amazing stat? The average American 25 year-old has already had an average of 6.3 jobs. Six friggin jobs! Isn’t that incredible?
Here’s where things get really interesting. If polled, the average American age 21-30 plans on having only 2-5 jobs in his or her entire lifetime. That’s jobs, not careers.
Uh oh. As is so often the case with so many other areas of our lives, this means that most of us have not emotionally accepted the way society has fundamentally changed while we weren’t looking.
Decades ago, you worked for one big company at the same job (or at least in the same career) for 30 or 40 years, then retired with your gold watch. Today you’re going to be switching jobs, companies, and careers very quickly and extremely often. Instead of freaking out about this, you should use it to your advantage.
In my early twenties, before I started my first full-time business, I figured out pretty quickly that the only way I could get a big raise at my job was to quit that job and go to another job. Therefore, I made damn sure that every 12-18 months I switched jobs. Every time I did, I made $5,000 to $10,000 more money per year.
By the time I was about 24, I was making over $50,000 a year, and this was in mid-1990s dollars. I remember my dad looking at my resume back then, shaking his head, trying to understand why anyone would hire me when all the jobs on my resume were under two years duration…sometimes under a year.
Naturally, he was confused. He was still stuck in the old paradigm of lifetime employment had been the reality for generations before him.
I’m sure your thinking is not as out-of-date as my dad’s had been. You probably don’t think you’ll have just one or two jobs throughout your lifetime. However, I think you’re like one of those polled people thinking you’re only going to have a small handful jobs/careers throughout your lifetime.
You need to shift your mindset from “lifetime employment” (like my dad) or “infrequent job changes” (like you) to “free agent” (like me). You need to start viewing yourself as a free agent, like professional sports athlete. They know when they join a team they may only be there a very short time…perhaps just a year or two. They actually plan on leaving to join another team even as they sign up for a new team.
They also know that they will become more valuable in the marketplace if they make their team better while they’re there. They do their best to improve the results of the team, so when they move on to the next team, they can command a higher salary.
This is exactly what I did in the job market. I never planned on any job lasting very long…only long enough to improve my value in order to move on to something better within a year or two.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re only going to have four or five jobs in your entire life. You could easily have 25 jobs before your day is done. Each new job brings you more knowledge and experience, thereby increasing your worth to your next employer (and your pay!). It’s how the economy works now. Leverage this and use this to your advantage.