Alexandra Levit is a workplace author, speaker, columnist, and consultant. She was a Money Magazine Career Expert of the Year in 2010 and has been a Career and Workplace Consultant to the Obama Administration and the Fortune 500.
Dreaming Made Simple: I read where you expressed concern about people who go from job to job with the idea that the grass is always greener elsewhere. My question is, how can someone tell if he or she has an 'objectively good job situation,' or if it’s time to look elsewhere? When is it advisable to bide one’s time for a job situation to improve and when is that not the best idea?
Alexandra Levit: It's critical to get a few outside opinions. Talk to a trusted mentor in your field (not a parent or one of your parents' friends) or someone who coaches people on their careers, and spell out the situation. This will provide the reality check you need to make a sensible decision. In general, you should stay in a new job at least a year, and unless your daily life is intolerable, I would stick around until you've exhausted all opportunities for growth and learning either in or outside your current job responsibilities.
Dreaming Made Simple: If someone is interested in trying a different field, what advice do you have for convincing a decision maker that this person has enough transferable skills, etc. to be a good fit in the new career?
Alexandra Levit: Don't leave it to their imagination because they won't take the time to make the leap. Once they see that you were in finance and they're in healthcare, you'll be out of consideration, regardless of the fact that many of the skills transfer well. Look at sample resumes and job descriptions online for that field and craft your marketing documents to look exactly like those. Include skills and keywords that are mentioned often and, wherever possible, showcase results that map to what you'd be expected to achieve in the new field.
Dreaming Made Simple: With a mindset that your early post-college positions will be 'temporary stops' as you continue to develop, how would you recommend sampling other fields?
Alexandra Levit: I agree with this sentiment, though I do think each job move should be purposeful even when you are young. Ask, "What skill can I learn? What experience can I have that will help me down the line?" I would also take advantage of the opportunity to do volunteer work outside of your regular job to see if a particular career is for you. This has the dual benefits of allowing you to give back to your community and try a new field with minimal risk.