"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
This piece of advice is commonly used as a reason not to consider trying something new - whether it’s upgrading home appliances, tweaking a company’s operational processes, or considering a career change. People often feel that if they are happy in the moment, there is no reason to consider making a change in their lives. The problem is, items do eventually break, systems do start to fail, and job satisfaction can decrease over time. And if you wait until things are broken to look for a solution, you don’t get the luxury of fixing things on your terms - often, you have to take what you can get.
While it might seem counterintuitive, the best time to consider making a career change is actually when you are relatively happy with your current job. Here are just a few of the benefits of changing jobs when you’re contentedly employed:
Capitalize on Strong Markets
During a thriving economy, most people aren’t worried about losing their jobs. There’s often a healthy backlog of work and there isn’t usually writing on the wall for employees. However, strong markets also mean that companies are earning plenty of income and are likely paying high salaries to incoming talent. If you make a move during a strong economy, there’s a good chance you’ll see a raise in your income level with your new employer. If you wait until the economy is struggling and forcing layoffs throughout your market, the chances of a high-paying gig falling into your lap are much lower.
Diversify Your Skill Set
No two companies are exactly alike - and there’s no one way to do exceptional work. If you spend your entire career with one company, you are only learning one specific way of doing your job well. However, by considering a career change with a new employer, you open yourself up to new learning opportunities. Even in the same industry and with the same (or similar) job title, you will not be doing the exact same job. Whether you’re working on different types of projects, learning new software, or simply engaging in a different team dynamic, there is always something to learn with a new job. By taking on new challenges, you strengthen your resume and can keep your excitement and motivation for your career strong by preventing yourself from settling into a rut.
Maximize Your Value
A strategic career move doesn’t just create opportunities for you to learn - it also creates opportunities for you to teach. When you change jobs, you bring with you a set of knowledge and experience that no one at your new company has, which means you can add value in ways that no one else can. Take what you appreciated about your old job (for example: efficient safety systems, management techniques, or subcontractor relationships), and contribute those things to your new company. You will be helping a company thrive in a competitive market, and you will also be making a name for yourself in your industry as a difference-maker.
Take Control of Your Career
By exploring job opportunities before it’s necessary for you to change jobs, you put yourself in the driver’s seat of your career. If you wait until you are unhappy in your role or have been laid off, you don’t have a lot of control in the job search process. However, when you’re job hunting while comfortably employed, you can take your time and really get to know each of the companies you are considering. There is no pressure on you to rush into a decision; you can wait until you find an opportunity that provides an income you are happy with, projects that excite you, and plenty of room for learning and growth.
The bottom line is that making a career change on someone else’s timeline never benefits you. So unless you are planning to retire at your current company, it’s in your best interest to stay open to conversations about new opportunities. Be strategic with your career and make the move that is right for you, to the company that is right for you, at a time that is right for you. In some cases, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” might be great advice, but when it comes to your career - fix it before it breaks!