Steffanie Rivers

*They called her on the telephone last week to tell her she was being terminated. She had worked at the same company for nearly four years, two in the same position. Although she enjoyed most of her co-workers, the perks that came with her position and the health benefits that all of America seemed to covet, she realized months ago that she didn’t feel challenged and for some time she had been searching for something new.

She applied for new positions starting the day after the fateful phone call. Even though false accusations are what got her fired, she vowed to waste no time holding a grudge because time is money and money is time. That and the fact that she lives in “right to work” state where an employer can pretty much terminate you for whatever they want.

It was during her job hunt that she read some interesting statistics: The learning curve is very steep when someone starts a new job. And then it goes flat. So by the end of two years at the same job, oftentimes there is little left to learn, mostly repetitive work. Which begs the question: If a person stays at the same job for twenty years what is she doing to stay mentally challenged from day to day?

Some experts say employees who prefer to stay put do so mostly to avoid a challenge even if they are dissatisfied with the pay, perks or working environment. And that means companies could lose the edge they need to stay competitive if no new blood is circulating throughout the organization.

On the other hand, experts say if you change jobs often your learning curve is likely to stay high creating improved office skills, better emotional intelligence and better pay. The more you have to navigate corporate hierarchies and deal with office drama, the more you learn about people and the better you become at making them comfortable at work. Everyone should agree that’s a great skill to have, because where there are people with different personalities there is drama.

Had she been better at making her co-workers feel comfortable around her maybe she might not have been fired. A handful of them had broken the rules, but their infractions were overlooked.

The same experts who said it’s beneficial to change jobs every few years advised her to use her professional networks to find the next challenge. Afterall, who better to know her strengths? Some people call it six degrees of separation: Simply put, she is no more than six people away from anybody on earth that she ever wants to meet. She just has to line up the right six people. She has the phone number of a 7-Eleven regional director in her virtual rolodex; she is friends with a guy whose first cousin is the mayor of Baltimore; and she graduated from high school with an Army Sargeant Major who works with Vice President Joe Biden. Oh yeah, and her mother has dozens of influential people in her personal email file. So chances are she’ll be just fine whatever happens.

While she didn’t leave her last assignment under ideal circumstances, she learned new skills to add to her resume and her stellar performance appraisals that she managed to take with her before she left tell the real story about what kind of employee she was and the asset she is sure to become.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Send questions, comments or requests for speaking engagements to Steffanie at [email protected]. And see the video version of her journal at www.youtube.com/steffanierivers.