This Is One Decision That Can Absolutely Ruin Your Career Success

Close up of focused professional bored business woman working on a laptop in the office.

She was a noted high performer and loved her job so much that she stayed in it for 19 years before calling me to ask for career assistance to get a new one. She always thought that her loyalty, commitment and high performance would pay off at some point. She believed the powers that be would surely appreciate her efforts and reward her with a promotion and a substantial raise when the time was right. She was wrong. The promotion never came, and the pay raises weren’t much more than the minimum which everyone else was getting. The time just never seemed right.

This is a real person I’m talking about, but for the sake of privacy, I will call her Jane. Don’t do what she did. Don’t be Jane. Ultimately, Jane was told that she was one of the best employees the company had. In a large organization of more than 10,000 employees, she was considered one of the best. But it didn’t matter. Her supervisor told her that he couldn’t recommend her for promotions because he wouldn’t know how to manage without her. He had the audacity to tell Jane that she was too valuable to his success, and he just couldn’t bear to lose her. Wait. What?

The one decision to stay in the same job too long can absolutely ruin your career success.

How could Jane have let this happen to her career? How could she had stalled out and wasted her potential? It happened slowly. It happened innocuously. It happened thoughtlessly. But it did indeed happen. Despite all of Jane’s potential, despite all of her dedication, loyalty or even great performance, she lost out. Her career stalled. Jane demonstrated behaviors that she thought would advance her career in the long run, but her single decision not to leave her job ended up hurting her and limiting her career success. Jane – like too many others – stayed in the same job for far too long.

How long is too long to stay? Typically speaking, five years is too long to stay in the same job if your goal is to promote and move up the career ladder. Each year after five that you remain in the same job, you risk damaging your future career prospects. Instead of opening more doors, your loyalty to one position – or one person – at one company can actually start to close them.

Today In: Leadership

Staying in the same job for too long creates three huge risks.

Rather than benefiting your career, staying too long just ends up harming it. Here are three huge risks for your career success and future prospects. First, the longer you stay, the weaker your chances are for promotion because you aren’t as competitive. Second, employees who stay longer than two years get paid 50% less than those who leave and start fresh elsewhere. Third, the longer you stay in the same job, the less interesting and relevant you become to management.

Don’t ignore your career goals because your boss does.

Jane’s boss showed her that he couldn’t be bothered to take any real interest in her career success. The way he saw it, her success was tied to his. He felt that she should just be grateful that he allowed her to make him so successful. Still, she desperately wanted his approval. She worked to make him happy because she had a belief that her supervisor would surely look out for her in the end. Again, she was wrong.

Never let your desire to please your boss come to the detriment of your own success. Jane wanted to apply for a promotion opportunity after four years, but she didn’t because her supervisor convinced her that he needed her. He told her that he would look out for her in the future and assured her that many more opportunities would come up.

After nine years on the job, Jane was actually offered an opportunity outside the organization. It would have meant a pay cut but was indeed a promotion to management with new and challenging opportunities. She said she couldn’t take the career risk and declined the offer.

Jane wanted to leave again at 14 years, but her supervisor convinced her otherwise – again. Finally, at 19 years, Jane did apply for an internal promotional opportunity, but her supervisor would not recommend her for the job. She was sick and tired of not being supported and decided she wanted to quit. But now, she was afraid of losing out on retirement and other benefits.

The longer you stay without being promoted, the worse it gets for you.

Don’t allow others to typecast you.

Typecasting doesn’t just happen in Hollywood. It happens with regular folks in regular jobs every single day.

When you stay in the same job, or at the same level, for too long, you will get typecast. This damages your career success because it gets harder for people to envision you in a different position or at a senior level. If your goal is to be in management, don’t overstay your role as an individual contributor. If your goal is to be a supervisor, apply for jobs that provide that responsibility earlier rather than later in your career. If you are the project assistant but want to be the project manager, get your game plan in order and work it.

Expand your professional network even within your current company.

Build a broad network and support system across the organization. Don’t end up focusing so much on your own division that you neglect to develop relationships across the broader organization. The relationships you make outside of your division may come in handy when you are seeking a promotion and can’t get one within your own division.

Nurture relationships and talk with other people beyond your supervisor. Get a mentor or a coach who isn’t also your supervisor. By having others invested in your success, you won’t be at the mercy of this one person having so much control over your career progress. Also, document your performance and advocate for high-profile projects and pay raises during performance reviews. Do what you must to get on teams that span beyond your supervisor’s authority, and always perform exceptionally well.

Look out for your own career success because no one else will.

If you’ve been on the job for two years, don’t feel bad at all for applying for promotional opportunities that come up. If you can keep working for the same company and advance your career, good. But if you find that you aren’t getting challenging or high-profile assignments or projects and you aren’t being seriously considered for promotions and pay raises, then don’t hesitate to start looking outside your division (in a large organization) or outside of your company.

At the end of the day, no one is going to look out for your success better than you, and if you don’t do it, it won’t get done. Don’t ever presume that you will eventually be rewarded. There are far too many people like Jane calling me to complain that they are also being overlooked because they decided to stay in the same job for way too long. Hopefully – now – you won’t ever let that person be you.

[“source=forbes”]