One of the most frequent questions we get is, "How long should I stay in my current role before looking for new opportunities?" The answer to this lies in a blend of timing, strategy, and personal circumstances. Here's a guide to help you navigate this decision in the biotech industry.
Understanding the Learning Curve
1. The Value of Early Learning:
In the first few of years in a role, you're in a phase of intense learning and skill acquisition. This period is crucial for laying the foundation of your next step. If you're in a bench science role, for instance, mastering new techniques or contributing to significant projects, these experiences are invaluable for your professional growth.
2. Recognizing Growth Potential:
Assess whether you’re still gaining valuable skills or insights. If after a year or two, you're still finding new ways to grow and contribute, it may be beneficial to stay put a little longer. Regular conversations with your manager will also help you to identify areas of new learning and growth you can access within your current role. Alternatively, these conversations might identify promotions or career shifts within the organization that might be great for your career.
Assessing Career Stagnation
On the flip side, if you start feeling like you're on autopilot with no new challenges or learning opportunities, and your company cannot provide any new challenges, it might be time to consider moving on. If you're no longer growing or developing in your current role, it can lead to dissatisfaction and a plateau in career development. Again, regular chats with your manager can help you to identify this early, and opportunities within the organization might give you new and interesting opportunities for growth. You'll never know if you don't ask.
The Two-to-Three-Year Guideline:
A good benchmark is to start exploring promotions, internal moves, or new opportunities after two to three years in a role. This duration is generally viewed favorably by future employers, as it indicates stability and commitment, yet allows for meaninful career progression. Much longer and prospective employers might also worry that you are not motivated to grow, so there's a fine line you'll need to walk.
Reflect on where you want to be in the next five years. If your current position isn’t providing a trajectory that aligns with these long-term goals, or if opportunities for advancement are limited, it might be time to seek roles that better align with your aspirations. Again, we'll reference that all-important regular meeting cadence with your manager. A good manager will help you to identify your goals and work toward them, even it it means you need to leave the company for a new challenge.
Timing is Key: When to Seek New Opportunities
You've Built a Portfolio of Accomplishments:
Before you decide to leave, ensure you have a list of tangible achievements in your current role. Have you led a project to success, or introduced an innovative process? Such accomplishments not only enhance your resume but also provide compelling narratives for future job interviews. They show good follow-through, dedication to company success, and that you are goal-oriented.
You've Made an Impact:
It's essential to leave a mark in your current role. The impact you make and the skills you acquire are more significant than the duration of your stay. When you feel that you’ve accomplished your goals and your growth is tapering off, it’s a strong sign that it's time to move on. No one will begrudge you for moving on if you've furthered the company mission and achieved the goals you set out to accomplish.
Deciding when to leave a job is not about adhering to a strict timeline. You'll need to assess your personal growth, alignment with career goals, and the contributions you've made. By carefully considering these aspects, you'll be able to make an informed decision about when it's time to advance your career. Trust your instincts and stay attuned to your professional development needs, and you'll find the right moment to step into the next chapter of your biotech journey.