Career Suicide by Bernie Reifkind, CEO of Premier Search Inc.

Posted by Bernie Reifkind on February 26, 2009

Many intelligent professionals are working harder then ever and killing their career at the same time. That’s quite a paradox.

Americans have been taught throughout our lives that in order to have a successful career it is imperative to study hard, receive a good education, learn discipline, find a career that you are passionate about, find a job within that passion (if you are fortunate enough) work hard, pay taxes, etc.
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If we are so fortunate, we find a job and work hard at it and hopefully we find happiness. We hope to remain in our job for as long as possible ideally for at least 3-5 years before possibly looking for greener pastures. Reasonable, right?

Research tells us that making a job change at or near every 5 years has been the acceptable norm. If someone has made a job change every 3-4 years it still seems to be acceptable to most employers depending upon the circumstances.

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In the past several years that paradigm is making a huge shift. Exceptionally talented individuals are making many more job changes than ever before.

Why?

Employers are seeing a tremendous amount of resumes that have more holes in them than Swiss cheese!

Why? Is this a trend? In some industries people make job changes as often as they change their socks.

Let’s look at the nursing profession.

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There are obviously many reasons why people make job changes. We know that the number one reason why people make a job change (or remain in their jobs) is their boss.

However in this economy and with the shortage of nursing both at the staff and administrative levels, nurses get solicited all the time to explore new opportunities. Some health care organizations are so desperate to find a good candidate that they’ll pay almost anything to find that “right fit”. They end up paying “combat wages” to entice a nursing professional.

As rational, well meaning and responsible adults, most of us are working hard to provide for our families, to save for college and hopefully take a vacation once in a while. Oh and let’s not forget about saving for a rainy day.

So what happens if you’re a nurse and you hear about a job opening that will pay significantly more than you are earning and appears to be a sensible career opportunity? You check it out. Why not? It doesn’t hurt to listen and learn about another opportunity and it’s free!

Nurses get solicited almost every single day due to the nation’s severe nursing shortage. Most nurses find it extremely difficult to say no and many end up taking a job that isn’t a good fit.

For most of us, it is very difficult to find an opportunity with a boss that we really like, in a job close to home, with great pay and benefits, with co-workers that we can feel a sense of camaraderie, etc.

Most nurses became nurses not because of the money but they saw it as a “calling” and they enjoy the notion that they may be able to help people. Of course nurses know that they can be paid quite well but still that wasn’t the reason they chose it as a career. They care for us, our families and our friends. They are unique individuals.

So for many nurses the spiral begins and we begin to see very talented and competent professionals receiving all kinds of offers that they are inclined to accept and when it doesn’t work out they have horrible looking resumes that scream of instability.

It’s very similar to what most of us do, when interest rates are lower. We refinance so that we can have lower payments on our house. One can reasonably assume that if a refinance history and a career history were compared, things may be appear a bit more objective.

The bottom line is that making too many job changes is career suicide and almost guarantees a resume that lacks credibility. Employers are looking for the very best talent but now more than ever they are looking for employees with a record of stability. So how do we find the balance?

For one, make a job change for the right reason. Make sure that you have done your due diligence with regard to all aspects of the job including why the position is open, how long has it been open, what are the employer’s expectations. Can you imagine working there for at least 4-5 years?

Secondly, never allow yourself to be pressured to make a job change. Take as much time as you need to allow yourself to make an informed decision. If you are pressured to accept a job by a certain date that doesn’t feel right, than ask for more time. If you cannot be accommodated, give pause to the situation.

Lastly and most importantly, learn to say no. If something is too good to be true it probably is.

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