Happy worker wonders about the salary and résumé ramifications of sticking with the same job.
Q: A few years ago, I started a job as a manager. The first six months were brutal, but I got through the morass that my predecessor left behind, and ever since it’s been fantastic. Many people in my department have spent their entire careers here, and I can see why — the benefits are good, the people are nice and smart, work is rewarding. At 32, I can imagine working at this job until I retire. (This is the first time that thought has ever occurred to me.)
I have two concerns. First, I make a decent salary, but there’s no room for promotion in my department, so all I’d ever get are small annual raises. I’m sure I could get more if I job-hopped. The second concern is my résumé. If I put a lot of years into this job, but then the department is dissolved or I suddenly decide I want to leave, will hiring managers assume I don’t know how to adapt to a new environment?
I’m happy, and that makes me feel crazy to even consider looking elsewhere. Does it make sense to stay in a good job that makes you happy, at the expense of salary, potential career prestige and résumé building? Is it a mistake to stay in one job too long?
A: It can certainly be a mistake to stay in a job too long if you do it for the wrong reason: a vague sense of comfort that atrophies into a rut, let’s say. And as I’ve said in this column before, I think it’s always smart to keep networking and maintaining a general sense of other opportunities.
But by your account, you’re not sleepwalking through this job because it’s safe. You’re enjoying it. And you’re not considering a change because you think you need it — you’re doing so because a theoretical hiring manager in the future might think so.
One way to frame the future résumé issue is to worry less about the variety of employers you can list than the variety of skills and experiences. Thinking consciously about that may be a useful exercise that can add to your satisfaction and engagement over time, as well as come in handy if some twist puts you back on the job market.
The salary question comes down to personal priorities: Weighing money against other elements of job satisfaction is an eternal dilemma. But rather than speculate about how you might feel later, it might be more useful to revisit the subject on a regular basis, maybe once a year. If a sense that you’re being paid less than you are worth starts to undermine your workplace happiness, then it’s time to start looking for other options. But until that happens, there’s no reason to undermine that happiness yourself.
Submit questions to Rob Walker at email@example.com.