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Animal Health or Veterinary Career: How Often Should You Change Jobs?

by Stacy Pursell, CPC, CERS

The VET Recruiter®

We are obviously at a crossroads in the employment marketplace and also in terms of a person’s Animal Health or Veterinary career. That crossroads involves the following important question: how often should you change jobs?

Once upon a time, the answer to that question was easy. Anyone who changed jobs more frequently than every five to seven years was considered a “job hopper,” and there were some employers who actively avoided such professionals when looking to hire. However, this is no longer the case. A change has occurred in the marketplace during the last several years, and while it’s easy to identify the trend associated with that change, it’s not as easy to answer our overriding question.

Animal Health and Veterinary career advice

I have addressed this topic to some degree in the past. However, I recently shared an article on social media titled, “Suzy Welch: Here’s How Long You Should Stay in a Job.” One of my followers responded to the post by commenting:

“Could you please comment on the case of long-time employees (like me) who have been changing roles very regularly (every 3-5 years). Different jobs, countries, teams, and culture, but the same company. Loyalty and growth can’t be a negative mark?!”

The person involved in this situation has worked at the same organization for a quite a while. However, during that time, they’ve worked many different roles within the company. In fact, they’ve even moved to other countries in their pursuit of career growth. That being said, this person really can not be considered a “job hopper.” Even though they’re continuously pursuing growth, they’re staying with the same employer while engaging in that pursuit.

However, this person did indicate that they change roles “very regularly,” and they quantified that as every three to five years. In the Suzy Welch article I shared on social media, Suzy shared her opinion that “a reasonable timeline for your departure from a job is three to five years.” And when she said that, she meant both changing your role and also changing your employer.

So the question still stands: How often should people change jobs in terms of their Animal Health or Veterinary career?

The bottom line for how often to change jobs

To answer this question, I’d like to make four points, starting at one end of the spectrum and moving to the other. These points are based upon my nearly 23 years of experience as an Animal Health and Veterinary recruiter and Executive Search Consultant.

#1—Every 18 to 24 months is probably too frequently.

I know that some younger members of the workforce are changing jobs this frequently. However, I believe this sets off a “silent alarm” in the heads of some hiring managers. Animal Health and Veterinary organizations invest a tremendous amount of time, energy, and effort into hiring new employees, and the last thing they want is for their new employees to be leaving after only a year and a half.

#2—It IS possible to change jobs too infrequently.

I’ve mentioned this before in articles and blog posts, and I have stories and case studies to back it up. I tried to place a candidate who had been with the same company for the bulk of his Animal Health Career. However, my client had concerns about hiring him because he had worked for only one company. This kind of situation has happened more than once, and it’s happening more frequently. In another instance, I worked with a candidate who was with the same company for 17 years. I had a challenge placing him because some hiring managers were concerned that he would have a difficult time adjusting to a new culture.

In short, the marketplace has changed. Loyalty is still important to organizations to a certain degree, but there are other things that are even more important. They include:

  • The willingness to take risks
  • The willingness to keep pushing forward to stay on the cutting edge of the industry
  • Exposure to a wide variety of work experiences and company cultures
  • History of working with a lot of different people in different positions
  • The accumulation of diverse skills and abilities

As an Animal Health or Veterinary professional, it is more difficult to accumulate these forms of value if you work for the same organization for 10, 15, or 20 years.

#3—Every 2 ½ to five years is an acceptable frequency.

I agree with Suzy Welch, but I believe that you can push the timeline up to 2 ½ years as compared to three years. This is especially the case within the Veterinary profession, where the unemployment rate has been hovering around 1% for the past two years. There are so many options available in the form of veterinary employment opportunities that it’s almost impossible to not consider other opportunities if you’re not satisfied with your current situation. In other words, if you decided to pursue other options after two and a half years with your employer, in all likelihood, you would not be viewed as a “job hopper.”  Also, if an exceptional opportunity comes about in any timeframe, I encourage you to consider it.

#4—Every situation is unique, personal, and subjective and should be treated as such.

There is no “cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all” approach to the frequency with which you should change jobs. Instead, there are guidelines that you can use as you assess your own situation, which is undoubtedly unique to you and your Animal Health or Veterinary career. What is right for you may not be right for someone else, and vice-versa.

If you’re happy and satisfied with your current job and you’ve been working in that position for three years or more, then by all means stay where you are. However, it still makes sense to hear about other opportunities that exist in the marketplace, because if your current job is as good as you think it is, then other opportunities will not stack up against it. However, there is always a chance that another opportunity will offer more to you and be clearly better than what you currently. You won’t know unless you check out other employment opportunities and see how they do stack up against what you have now in your current position and company.  And when that’s the case that another opportunity can offer you more, it’s always a good idea to consider making a change. That is how growth happens. You don’t want to be stagnant or complacent.

But ultimately, the decision is up to YOU. There is not necessarily a right or wrong answer to this question and like I said every situation is unique and depends on what is important to you and what is best for you, your career and your family. You are an individual and your exact career path could be just as individual as you are.

If you’re looking to make a change or explore your employment options to grow your Animal Health or Veterinary career, then we want to talk with you. I encourage you to contact us or you can also create a profile and/or submit your resume for consideration.

We help support Animal Health or Veterinary careers in one of two ways: 1. By helping professionals to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2. By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of Animal Health and Veterinary organizations. If this is something that you would like to explore further, please send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.

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