Why You Should Always Quit Your First Real Job

This post was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse by our very own Data Scientist - Ben Taylor. 

Im surprised how many people avoid this truth:

“If you voluntarily leave your job for better employment you will have higher pay and more success in your career”

I've been there, 1-5% raises, salary bell curves, and the promise that your pay will be great in the future. Reality check, if your employer is constraining you in this fashion you are a cog in a larger machine. You are replaceable, well at least they think you are. If you don't trust your employer's opinions of the market, or their market adjustment study do your own.

What Is A Real Job?

For many people this could be their first salaried job after school. I would just say this is your first salaried gig where you feel like "Now I've made it". You are pleasantly surprised by having a REAL income, which is so relative. My first job offer after my BS was $61K, then after my MS I accepted an offer for $76K. Previously, I had been living off of ~$14K, so this was a real adjustment. I felt rich.

Here Are The Top 3 reasons you refuse to look outside your first real job.

You are scared

I know this feeling, I have had it. The idea of leaving your current job causes anxiety. If you were unemployed tomorrow you would panic. I remember talking with a mechanical engineer neighbor of mine who casually mentioned that this was his third job since graduating. "Third job!" I exclaimed, I couldn't imagine, I felt anxious even considering leaving my first real job. Why would I leave?

Since talking to this neighbor I have surpassed them in churn and now I am on my fourth job since college and it has been wonderful! The fears and anxieties of unemployment have been replaced with marketability and confidence. My skill set has exploded 10x where it would have been if I had stayed in my original position.

You Feel Content

"I have great benefits, 401K matching, paid time off, the people I work with are great, my pay is sufficient, I'm great at what I do, why would I leave?".

They don't know what they are missing. I was happy with my first real job. If I had remained I would have still been happy in a depressed-drone-kind-of-happy way. Also, being great at your job is actually a bad thing, it means you aren't being challenged enough, and that means your job-brain is atrophying.

I took this photo above a few days ago before skiing to work at  HireVue. I am on my 22nd ski day this year (expect to land between 30-40 this season), I have also worked harder than I have ever worked at a job, but the flexibility has allowed me to enjoy a new level of living I would have never been exposed to in my first job. Life is great.

You are Naive

I was naive. I had no idea what kind of benefits existed at other jobs. Free food, unlimited time off at  HireVue, xbox/PS3 at work, regular work from home, $4K stipends that MUST be spent on annual vacations. How often do we use bonuses to do something responsible? Always. How cool is that, that your employer is forcing you to live life and take an epic vacation each year? Check out  Keen IO  for that sweet vacation benefit. 

"You are receiving one of the highest raises this year at 1.5%"  was something I heard once at my first REAL job. Yikes, talk about a kick in the teeth. If you think this is the reality of the market you are a fantastic cog. If I were a jerk I would hire you.

Being naive I didn't realize what kind of benefits existed in other work places, I didn't understand compensation opportunities, I didn't understand what percent of my time should be tactical vs R&D. I didn't have any secondary points of reference. Get those secondary points of reference. Go to meet-ups, interview, understand the job landscape as well or better than your employer.

Your First Job Wants You Back

Also, if you are a great employee you typically always have a way back. So if your first leap of faith ends badly, you can come back to your original employer. They will be happy to have you back. They might even be willing to pay you more than when you left. I got shifted to the opposite end of the stupid bell curve when I returned, something that would have never happened if I hadn't left in the first place.

"I've heard leaving jobs too often will hurt my future employment."

Did your parents tell you that? Well, times have changed. Changing jobs every two years is no longer seen as a flighty practice. If you are good, and you can ensure that the value you bring to the business is multiples compared to the cost of on-boarding and ramping you then it really doesn't matter.

"I'm really important, my work needs me." 

That is great, everyone wants to feel important. If they really need you they will pay you close to your market value. You would be surprised how many companies do just fine when top performers leave. They will be ok, or they will react appropriately (raises, flex time, etc..).

If you have benefited from leaving your first real job in either compensation or skill set increase please comment or share. If you disagree with any of these points, or have additional ideas post in the comments below.