How long is too long to work at a company?

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How long is too long to work at a company? Is there value in staying there for seven-plus years?—@sutherngeorgian

We often live with blinders on, looking straight ahead for long periods of time without so much as glancing around us. If we take a giant leap back, it’s fair to say that everything we have right now all began with nothing but a single thought. That thought motivated our decisions and those decisions manifested into our reality.

I know, it’s very much like the “blue pill vs. red pill” scenario. The good news is that we can “unplug” ourselves from what causes those blind spots at any moment. Common culprits like routine, sameness, lack of variety—we know them only too well.

My suggestion is to unplug often. And by that, I simply mean stop, hang out with yourself, and reflect. I’m sure many of us know at least one person who’s paused in awe on their five- or ten-year anniversary at a company and wondered aloud, “How have I been here so long without realizing it?” I’ve even been one of those people, and I’m sure it’s part of the reason why this question was asked.

I’ll answer the second part of the question first. Seven years is certainly a significant amount of time to work at one company. It demonstrates loyalty, persistence, and tenacity, all of which are hugely valuable qualities that are becoming increasingly rare. Three years in one company alone says that much these days, so there’s definitely value in seven years or more.

To address the first part of the question, “too long” simply comes down to a lack of contribution towards learning outcomes aligned with your end goal. In simple terms, it means that if you’re no longer learning anything new, it’s time to move on. Or if you’re learning something new but it’s not helping you move towards your end goal, that’s another red flag.

Time is secondary to the amount you’re learning. Many friends of mine have worked at Herman Miller for over 20 years and have no intention of leaving. Then there are others who can’t cope working 20 days at a company.

Ask yourself this: “What do I really want? And what’s stopping me from getting it?” Your answers will tell you if your current employment situation is right for you.

For more, pick up a copy of Ram Castillo’s internationally and industry-acclaimed book How to Get a Job as a Designer, Guaranteed.

About the Author:

If you'd like to be a designer, read Ram's internationally industry acclaimed book here:

www.getajobasadesigner.com

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Ram is an award winning Design Director, Blogger, top ranking Podcaster, Speaker, CreativeLive.com Instructor and Author of the internationally acclaimed book 'How to get a job as a designer, guaranteed'. He's based in Sydney, Australia and in 2012, started the blog GiantThinkers.com which helps thousands of design students and graduates be employed. Ram has since been featured in Communication Arts, HOW magazine, Herman Miller, deFrost*, AIGA.org and Apple. 

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