Q. I find it difficult to stay on the same job for more than two years. Familiarity and routine wear me down. I am on my fourth accounting job in five years. While I feel that I have gained valuable expertise, I also fear that my CV is getting messier with the entries on different engagements. Is this a good sign for my professional growth?
A: I can tell you for sure that being on your fourth job in five years will repel many employers. When job profiles list the minimum experience required in a role, recruiters are not just looking for period worked, but are keen to see what knowledge you have gained over that period. If you move out of a job too quickly, they tend to question your performance, wondering whether you are moving out too soon out of incompetence or just lack of challenge.
If you are changing jobs only to repeat the same tasks you have been doing in a different organisation for just a little more money, you have to change your strategy.
Before you make the next jump, interrogate the job profile to ensure that it will provide not only a better challenge, but a better employment environment that can offer you more variety from job rotation every six or 12 months to stretch goals that break the monotony of your daily routine, not forgetting short-term opportunities to cover for senior roles.
Accounting jobs are quite routine at the beginning, but you now have five years’ experience that should get you to a higher level where a little complexity may excite you.
You could also be deliberate on the part of accounting that excites you most and seek growth opportunities in that area. If you find a job that interfaces with different clients with diverse needs, providing solutions to them will definitely break the routine and provide a good challenge.
As you know, organisations are structured in a way that values loyalty, the reason employers go out of their way to keep highly productive and valuable employees. You will never get to experience the challenge and job satisfaction that comes to those who get to that level if you keep moving so often.
Given your frequent moving, at some point, you will have to ask the big question: Am I in the right profession? Go back to why you chose to study accounting, and if that spark is not there anymore, it is never too late to invest in what you really have passion for.
You could reflect on this as the year starts and set some goals. But do remember that the question is not how long you have been in a role, rather, what you have learned and how you apply that knowledge to take you forward.
Originally published in the Daily Nation.