There are many deeply personal reasons to change your employment position. You may have a good job, but long for a better or best job. From a purely strategic point of view, there are four good reasons to change jobs within the same field or industry as many as three times during your first ten to 15 years of employment.
Reason #1 Changing positions gives you a broader base of experience: After approximately three years, you will have learned most of what you are going to know about how to do your current job. Therefore, over a ten to 12 year period, you gain more experience from three times 90 percent than one times 100 percent. (Happily, one of these job changes may be able to be made within your own, current employer.)
Reason #2 A more varied background creates a greater demand for your skills: Depth of experience means you are more valuable to a larger number of employers. You are not only familiar with your current company’s legal work and needs, but its services, procedures, clients, and so forth. You bring forward the expertise gained from your prior employment with other companies.
Reason #3 A job change results in an accelerated promotion cycle: Each time you make a change, you bump up a notch on the promotion ladder. You jump, for example, from a generic counsel or corporate counsel title to a specific specialty counsel title; or move from Corporate Compliance Counsel to Associate General Counsel.
Reason #4 More responsibility leads to greater earning power: A promotion is usually accompanied by a salary increase. Since you are being promoted faster, your salary grows at a quicker pace, similar to compounding the interest you would hope to earn on a certificate of deposit.
Many people view a job change as the way of promoting themselves to a better position. In most cases, I would agree. However, you should always be sure your new job offers you the means to satisfy your values. While there is no denying the strategic virtues of selective job changing for the purpose of career leverage, you will want to make sure the path you take leads you where you really want to go.
For instance, there is no reason to change jobs for more money if such a change will make you unhappy to the point of distraction. In placing lawyers into private law firms and corporations for more than 20 years, I’ve found that money usually has no influence on a career decision unless it materially affects your lifestyle or self-identity. If career growth and advancement are your primary goals, and those goals are represented by how much money you earn, then the job that pays the most is the better job -- for you.
To me, the best job is one which brings you the qualities of the better job, and ensures that your values are most effectively satisfied.