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The Globe and Mail

If millennials want to lead, they need to stop jumping ship

Our recent economic collapse has created a nation of workers who only have loyalty to themselves. Gone are the days when you stayed with one employer for life.

Today, you are moving from one company to the next in search of your dream job or just a better situation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that now people have an average of six jobs between the ages of 18 and 25. The problem with job hopping is that companies are filling new jobs with internal hires over those found on job boards and other sites. Forty-two per cent of 185,450 open positions at 37 large firms were filled with internal hires last year, reports CareerXroads, an online recruiting firm. Internal hiring saves companies money, time and increases employee morale.

I've noticed many workers who keep looking for new opportunities while currently employed instead of focusing on improving their own performance and increasing their value at work.

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In fact, CareerBuilder reports that 35 per cent of workers are already searching for new job after only two weeks of employment. How can you show a future employer your skills and accomplishments when you don't have any yet? You can't.

Instead of thinking outside the box like everyone keeps telling you to do, start to create your own work experience, enhance your skills, build connections and seek new opportunities. Your future employers want to see that you've given your job a chance, that you've made progression and that you've achieved results. It's time to think inside the box. You don't need a fancy job title or to climb the ladder to be successful and to grow within a corporation. Smart employees know that lateral career moves can position them for a higher level of success later in their careers.

The problem is that most workers grow impatient with their current roles and think that the only solution is to move to another company. In a new study in partnership with American Express, we found that 73 per cent of managers are very willing or extremely willing to support employees who want to move within the corporation and 48 per cent of millennial employees are interested in making these moves. Employees need to look left and right not just up if they want to be successful. At the higher levels in an organization, you need to have a firm grasp on how different groups operate or you won't be able to manage them properly.

Being impatient in your career won't get you very far because learning skills, building relationships and understanding each position takes time. Having patience is a good thing because not only will you appreciate it more when you get promoted but you'll have more confidence to execute when you're there.

In the study, we also found that 75 per cent of managers believe that it takes four or more years to become a manager at their company on average. By thinking inside the box, you have a better chance of moving into a manager role, being prepared for it and having more influence and respect from your colleagues. If you decide to keep jumping from one company to the next, companies won't invest in you and you'll lose those connections that helped you get work done at your old job.

Thinking inside the box will help you take advantage of the situation you're in and position you for success. If everyone is thinking outside the box when it comes to their careers, those who think within gain a competitive advantage and have the best chance at filling those leadership roles.

Next time you feel the urge to look for a new job elsewhere, take a moment to analyze all the resources, connections and opportunities throughout your organization first.

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Dan Schawbel is a Gen Y career and workplace expert, the Founder of Millennial Branding and the author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success (St. Martin's Press, Sept. 3, 2013).

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