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Staying In A Job For Too Long Can Hurt You Financially — Here’s Why

Staying In A Job For Too Long Can Hurt You Financially — Here’s Why

Anyone who has been in the same job for a long time knows that sticking around in one position is practically guaranteed to lead to one thing: boredom. Still, many of us have been conditioned to believe that being bored is a small price to pay for company loyalty… especially since we hope that our loyalty will one day reap rewards in the form of promotions and pay raises. It makes sense, right?

Not so fast!

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All of this might represent a more traditional mindset around building a Career Roadmap™, but it also keeps us from taking risks that can have some serious financial payoff. We need to talk more about how taking chances in the workplace can have short- and long-term impacts on your bank account.

To illustrate my point, let’s consider a scenario in which two people start working at the same company at the same time. In each of their first three years on the job, they earn a salary increase of four percent. This is where things get interesting. We’ll break down what happens to each of these employees individually…

Graph chart showing two individuals earn the same salary increase for 3 years
Two individuals earn the same salary increase for 3 yearsSARAH DOODY, CAREER STRATEGY LAB

Person A

This employee decides to stick around, focusing on that familiar loyalty model. Once again, they earn a four percent salary increase in their fourth year.

Person B

Person B isn’t exactly unhappy at work, but they’re curious about what else is out there. After some research, they take a few interviews, during which they learn that they are being underpaid in their current role. They are offered a new job, along with a 40 percent increase from their former salary at the original company.

Graph chart showing salary increase in year 4 for candidate who switched jobs
Salary increase in year 4 for candidate who switched jobsSARAH DOODY, CAREER STRATEGY LAB

The bottom line is that Person A stayed the course and was rewarded only marginally, while Person B took a risk and saw a much larger payoff.

And we’re not just dealing in hypotheticals here! I see people change jobs and career paths all the time, and they often increase their salaries in the process. Recently, one of my clients took my advice on this subject and nearly doubled their salary. They stood their ground in financial negotiations and now feel confident that they are being compensated fairly according to their qualifications and expertise.

Seeking out a new professional opportunity when you know what to expect at your current organization can be a challenge. It’s easy to get comfortable! Maybe you really enjoy working with your colleagues, feel passionate about your function on the team and like the safety of seeing small rewards on a regular basis. Maybe you take a lot of pride in company loyalty. Maybe you don’t want to risk the frustration or disappointment of getting into a new — possibly less comfortable, rewarding or consistent — situation simply to avoid a salary plateau.

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All of those concerns are understandable. But remember: it’a literally impossible to know what’s available to you at a higher salary if you don’t take a chance and put yourself out there.

On the other side of your fears of rejection, your concerns about navigating a job search and uncertainty about a new company, you might just find more than you can even imagine. Here are a few potential benefits of making a big pivot into a higher-paying position…

  • You can increase your savings. With more money coming in every month, you can bank more for practicalities like retirement or education. You might even be able to save up for that fun vacation or big indulgence that has been off-limits until now.
  • You can pay off debt. Debt is always on your mind, at least a little bit. A salary bump will allow you to pay off your debt faster, which is good for your credit score and your mental health.
  • You increase your earning power for the future. The higher your salary is now, the higher you can expect your starting salary to be at other jobs down the road. Plus, you’ll get more comfortable making these moves and asking for what you deserve.
  • You might even like the job more! Sure, there’s a risk, but once you take the leap, you might find that seeking a new opportunity yields rewards beyond the financials. A new job might give you the chance to cultivate new skills, meet fantastic people or develop a passion for a new mission.

It’s never a good idea to make a big career change without thinking it through, but if you do find yourself hitting a salary plateau or feeling unsatisfied at the office, I encourage you to at least start the process of researching other options. Take control of your own destiny and remain loyal to what’s best for you and your bottom line.

Forbes

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