Determining your expiration date


Have you ever started to drink or eat something and then realized it was past the expiration date? Even if it tasted okay, you immediately feel a bit queasy and wondered if you’re going to get sick.

Just like food, everyone has an expiration date with their job and company. Some people leave too early—and may have missed an opportunity for earning a promotion or gaining an area of expertise. If they have a track record of short tenures (less than 2 years at a company), they may raise eyebrows. Hiring managers might wonder if you get bored easily, don’t play well with others and/or make rash decisions.

Others stay past their due date—typically over 2 years in a role and 7 years at a company. I rarely see people overstay their role, but I run into people who stay well past their peak at a company. When you stay too long (especially without a series of upward mobility), you may be signaling that you do not embrace new challenges or change. Hiring managers might wonder if you are able to adapt quickly or effectively to new people, processes and cultures.

Of course, there are some people who seem to know exactly when to leave. Are they geniuses, psychics or just lucky? Perhaps, it’s because that they’ve created an intentional career—increasing their chances of getting the timing right.

There’s an art and science to making a career move at an optimal time. Here are a few tips I’ve learned from my 20-year corporate career and the hundreds of clients I’ve worked with.

Determine what experiences and skills you want

to gain now and in the near future. Are you able to achieve your goals in this role? If not, are there other roles in the company that would? This is a great opportunity for you to network within the company to understand what others do, learn about upcoming job openings and forge strong relationships—as well as advocates.

Be objective and introspective

Some environments are toxic and your best option is to leave. But the more likely scenario is “fixable.” It’s easy to get trapped into a cycle of frustration and negativity—even when you like your job. If you’re starting to go down this path, take a beat and assess the situation as objectively as possible. Do a braindump of everything that’s bothering you. Then categorize by people, processes, projects and other. Analyze the list and determine what you can and can’t change. Be introspective and consider other perspectives and how you’ve contributed to the situation (good and bad). Try shifting your perception, mindset, or behavior to a more positive place and see what changes.

Don’t leave hastily

If you’ve reached your expiration date, then you know it’s time to leave. The best advice I can give, is don’t resign! It takes time to assess what’s important to you, determine your north star, set goals and develop an action plan. The clients I work with lead large initiatives, teams and/or departments. They ease off the accelerator at work, but keep everything running smoothly. In fact, most of them tell me that they become more effective when they start their job search journey. Having the security of income and benefits gives you the freedom of time—you can be super selective. And you can negotiate your start date so you get pure R&R time!

If you’re at or near your expiration date, then it’s time to make a plan for your next strategic move. We’d love to help!

Schedule a session with one of our Dream Job Strategists to discuss your goals and gain clarity on how to successfully achieve them.