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Changing Jobs to Earn More

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I had dinner with a friend last night who started a new job just about a year ago. He seemed pretty happy with the gig, but as I was leaving, he asked if I’d let him know if I hear of any good jobs for him.

I was surprised. Hadn’t he said his work was a good mix of challenging and manageable, and that he liked his team? I figured his boss was the problem, but he said no. Really, there was no problem.

“I’ve heard that you make more money if you move around more,” he said. “And I stayed at my last job too long.”

Wow. Here was more proof that the days of working for one, or even a few, employers during a career are over. In most cases, changing jobs does mean getting a boost in pay. It is one of the reasons employees look for new jobs in the first place, and those with highly sought after skills or impressive experience can garner considerable salary bumps.

Compare that to the average raise, and it is easy to see why the idea of moving on is so attractive. Employees said they will offer raises averaging 3% in 2014, according to a survey from Towers Watson, the compensation consultant. That’s about the same size of average annual raises in 2012 and 2013.

That was the case for my friend, who had stellar reviews at a job he stayed in for about seven years—and received raises between 2% and 4% each year. His one promotion came with a bonus. He changed jobs for a 10% increase, and in addition to the extra cash, he’s realized how marketable his skills and talents really are.

It’s true that many employers still frown on job-hopping. But many workers, particularly younger and highly talented ones, are becoming more willing to take their chances. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median tenure of workers aged 25 to 34 is only three years, which is less than a third of that of employees between 55 and 64 years old.

That survey, of course, didn’t ask older workers if they wished they had changed jobs more.

About the Author

Susan Price has been writing about careers, entrepreneurs and personal finance for more than a decade. She’s been an editor at BusinessWeek, Money, and, among others.