Robin Singh holds an MBA with specialisation in HR from a prestigious university in India. He is 46 years old and is the human resource head of a mid-size company in Faridabad. The company manufactures automotive spare parts and has 120 employees on its rolls. Robin joined this company when he was 26 and has been with the company for the last 20 years; never having changed his job. He worked his way up the ladder and today he commands a salary of Rs 16 lakh per annum.
Robin Singh always thought he had done well in life until one day when saw his one-time protégé Rehan Raz .
Singh was nominated to attend a one-day workshop titled: Appraisals using Balance Score Card. The speaker turned out to be Rehan Raz who had taken his first job as an executive trainee in the HR department some 14 years ago. Singh was the manager - industrial relations then and had taken Raz under his wing. Raz quit the company after working there for 24 months and joined a start-up company as its assistant manager - HR.
Within a span of 14 years, Raz had changed four jobs. He worked in his second job for two years before he shifted to a Fortune 500 company as head of HR- Northern Region. He stayed there for four years and then shifted loyalties to a new telecom company as the number three man in the HR setup where he was instrumental in recruiting at least 200 employees at various levels, from sales executive and customer service executives to the city leads and the circle heads and even the chief technical officer and the chief commercial officer. He worked at this company for four years and when a multinational company from the US came to India to set up a car manufacturing unit, Raz again jumped to be the head honcho of this big automobile company.
Raz already has been given two international assignments and has attended several courses in management with his last two companies. He is an authority on "change management" and is a much-sought-after speaker at most HR conferences.
While there's no doubt that Raz is a man of extraordinary brilliance, the fact remains that the exposure that he got in completely different environments made him much more enriched in terms of knowledge and skills gathered over 14 years. In sheer experience he may be six years junior to Singh but in terms of the richness of the experience, he easily scores over Singh.
Today, Raz draws a salary of close to Rs 40 lakh.
The tale of Singh and Raz is not an unusual one. Those who change jobs frequently often tend to be successful managers and are more sought after.
Gone are the days when the companies used to shun CVs which were dotted with too many job changes.
When should you switch jobs?
- It is important to change jobs frequently during the first three years of your career. If you continue on your first job for many years, you tend to get conditioned into that job. One should change jobs frequently for more salary, for diversity of assignment and most importantly to work for companies with good brand equities.
- After the first three years of your career, you should have a better idea of the field in which you want to excel. For instance, you may think that you want to remain in product management but you need to work in an advertising company before you get back to product management in a goods producing company or you want to get into customer services but you are in sales right now. Switch jobs that are diverse so you can learn all there is to about specific or diverse domains.
- After having worked for seven years, you have done much learning (though learning never really stops) and are a near master of your field. You now need to take up challenges and aim at occupying middle-level leadership positions. If these positions aren't available in your organisation, you need to switch.
- If you realise that you are ready to take a leadership position and the position is available within your organisation but the competition is really stiff and you don't have a realistic chance of making it, start looking for a change.
- Once you have worked for 9-12 years, then you are ready to take the top positions in your chosen field. Now you must to look to get into the organisations that can accept you in a leadership role.
- After assuming the leadership profile, the reason for changing jobs should be massive salary jumps or remarkable career progression in terms of enviable assignments like a "turn-around" assignment or an opportunity to work in foreign markets.
There are advantages too of staying put in one job. These range from the pleasures of inertia to the safe environs of a comfort zone but such professionals eventually lose out.
The Singhs of today are viewed as risk-averse, lacking experience in different settings and even as staid and lacking courage.
Better to be a Rolling Raz than being a Staid Singh. You will gather more moss!
Sudhir Bisht is the COO of SWAP Technologies & Telecomms Plc, Nigeria. He is also a prolific writer on business/ social issues. Send feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org