10 Reasons You Should Always Be Looking for Your Next Opportunity — Even When You’re Happy at Work

Yuri_Arcurs / Getty Images
Yuri_Arcurs / Getty Images

In general, things are looking pretty good for American workers. The unemployment rate is around where it was before the pandemic struck and sent the economy spiraling, and employees are still quitting their jobs in droves as the Great Resignation continues.

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But we all know by now (especially after 2020) that things can change at any minute. A recession could pummel society and that cushiony sense of job security could fall out from under us. Because we can’t predict the future, we should always be cautious of it and stay ever so slightly on our toes when it comes to our employment.

This alone is one major reason to always be looking for your next career opportunity — even if you’re happy with your current job. But there are other reasons you should always be on the lookout for a new gig. 

Other Companies May Offer More

You may be getting good, steady raises at your current place of employment, but what if another company is offering you more right out of the gate? It happens.

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“While staying in the company you’re working for is a safe and stable option, switching jobs will help you get a promotion faster, get a higher salary and negotiate more benefits,” said Jordan Fabel, the founder of Approved Course, an educational careers website.

“When sticking to the same job, there is a policy for growth that takes time and one can end up getting the same salary and staying in the same position for years. However, the fastest way to advance and get better benefits is by looking for a higher position in another company and negotiating a better deal.”

It’s ‘Career Maintenance’

“Smart professionals don’t think of a job search as something they need to do every once in a while; nor do they wait for their current work situation to get really bad before taking action,” said Kristen Zavo, executive coach and the author of “Job Joy: Your Guide to Success, Meaning and Happiness in Your Career.”

“Instead, they consider activities traditionally reserved for job search — networking, building and maintaining an online presence, refining their personal brand, updating their career goals, etc. — as ‘career maintenance.’ Even if it’s just an hour a week dedicated to these activities, this is as much a priority as their day-to-day job. In this way, the professional is acting as the CEO of their career, not just an employee.”

You Could Stay Safe From AI

Many of us have been living in fear that at any minute artificial intelligence will replace us. While that certainly won’t be the case for everyone, there are jobs that we’re already seeing robots do instead of humans.

“As AI is implemented more into the workplace, it is unclear what job roles will be available in the future, and which job positions will no longer require human intervention,” said career advisor Chris Delaney.

If you’re in a role that could be threatened by AI, keeping an eye out for new career opportunities is wise.

You’ll Make Valuable Industry Contacts

“When searching for new job opportunities, you’ll inevitably come into contact with many different people in your industry,” said Ana Colak Fustin, career coach and founder of ByRecruiters. “These contacts can be valuable resources for networking and for learning about new opportunities that may not be publicly advertised.”

You Will Keep Your Skills Up to Date

“If you’re always looking for new opportunities, you’ll be able to spot in-demand skills,” Fustin said. “This can be a driving force to keep upskilling yourself so that you’re more qualified for future roles.”

It Keeps Your Interview and/or Negotiation Skills Fresh

“If you’re regularly looking for new opportunities, you’ll have more practice interviewing and negotiating a higher salary or better benefits,” Fustin said. “This can be helpful in the long term, even if you don’t end up changing jobs.”

It Will Center You

“By always keeping an eye out for new gigs, you’re subconsciously thinking, ‘What company is a good culture fit for me? Is this a lifestyle fit? Does this align with my interests, skills and values?'” said Sarah Doody, founder of the Career Strategy Lab. “This helps you make more level-headed decisions in the job market rather than making a panicked decision after a termination notice.”

You’ll Stay Aware

“Even if you stay with the same employer, simply being aware of what other companies offer can help you negotiate a better salary at your current company,” Fustin said. “So, by always being on the lookout for new opportunities, you can ensure that you’re getting the best possible salary for your skills and experience.”

There’s No Truly Safe Job Anymore

“I believe everyone should always be looking for another job opportunity because there isn’t a ‘safe’ job anymore,” said Michelle Enjoli, TED speaker and career development expert. “The rapid pace of change in technology and business models makes any employee subject to a sudden change in employment. I personally have witnessed several companies relocate their headquarters or make changes to their business that left long-term employees having to unexpectedly decide their next step.”

You Could (Maybe) Be Happier

“Even if you’re happy in your current job, there’s always the possibility that another role could be a better fit for your skills and interests,” Fustin said. “By keeping an eye out for new opportunities, you increase the chances of finding a truly fulfilling role and making the most of your talents.”

Stay Low-Profile By Staying Great at Your Job

The last thing you want to do is lose your current, enjoyable job because you were keeping open to other opportunities. To help ensure this doesn’t happen, Vicki Salemi, Monster career expert, recommends you stay completely focused on your present role.

“Remain engaged in the job as best you can,” Salemi said. “Rather than missing meetings or appearing checked out/not paying attention, stay focused. You’re still employed there and you’re still paid to get the work done.”

Jennifer Hartman, HR staff writer and human resources expert at Fit Small Business, adds that employees should be discreet with their research and do it outside company time, and they should never discuss a job search with co-workers.

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 10 Reasons You Should Always Be Looking for Your Next Opportunity — Even When You’re Happy at Work