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How long is too long to stay in a job?

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The days of seeing an employee work for the one organisation for 20, 30 or even 40 plus years are dwindling. During my recruitment career it has been common to see people who have worked for one or two employers for their entire career, however with the changing priorities of each generation of workers, sticking with the same company or staying in the same job for the majority of your career is not so common any more.

I am often asked during career coaching sessions, how long should I stay in the one job or with the one employer? Is it seen as a negative to work in the same role or with the same company for 10 or 15 or more years? Will I be perceived as stagnant, stuck in a rut or in-flexible to change?

 

While the work priorities of Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and Millennial workers is completely different and stability and loyalty are less of a priority for employees in today’s world of work, working regionally also has an impact on how long we stay in a job. Depending on the industry and type of role, opportunities to change roles and companies can be limited in a regional city so choosing to stay with one employer or “getting stuck” in a role or with an employer can be a reality for some. This can be compounded when you are committed to staying in Ballarat and don’t want to do the commute to Melbourne for whatever reason.

There is no magic number of years that means it is time to change jobs or employers. We are all different and have different career priorities, career goals and different work motivators. From the employers perspective, the biggest question they often have regarding a potential new hire who has worked in the same role or company for a long period is about their ability to be flexible and adaptable; how they cope with change.

As our workplaces change and evolve at a rapid pace due to technology, companies are looking for employees who can demonstrate an ability to adjust to that change, can influence and enhance change and who can contribute to innovation. It’s not about the number of years, it’s about being able to demonstrate your flexibility, adaptability and how you have grown and developed your skills and expertise during that time.

 

Before you jump ship and change jobs or employers because you think the clock is ticking, here are a few things to weigh up:

  • Is it the time/length of service that is really driving your motivation to think about a change or are there under lying factors motivating you to think about changing jobs? Often when I talk to someone thinking about changing jobs, they tell me they feel it’s time for a change and that they have been with the one employer too long however when we drill down it’s actually something else that is motivating the desire for change. Knowing what the real motivator or driver is behind making a change is key.

 

  • What are your short term and long term career goals and how does your current role and employer align with those goals? Changing jobs or employers for the sake of the number of years might be detrimental to achieving your career goals. Instead of focusing on the number of years focus on the outcomes and achievements you want and where and how you are best placed to get them.

 

  • It’s all I know. This is a statement I hear all the time from people that have worked in the one workplace or job for their entire career to date. Just because it is all you know doesn’t mean you have to change jobs or workplaces. Before I started Inspire HQ I was weighing up the pros and cons of starting my own business or going to work for another agency. I had only worked for the one recruitment business prior to starting my own business. That one agency was all I knew. I only knew their way; their way of doing business, their systems and processes. Did I need to work for other agencies to broaden my experience before starting my own agency? There are other ways of learning, getting experience and building on your knowledge. Instead of deciding to go and work for another agency I chose to start Inspire HQ and instead I have invested in surrounding myself and building really strong networks throughout the industry so I can learn and develop my knowledge through my industry peers. There are many ways to broaden your knowledge and experience, it doesn’t have to be about changing jobs or companies.

Instead of focussing on the number of years, focus on the growth and learnings; the skill development and your career goals to achieve career success and satisfaction.

 

Angela Connor is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource and career coaching companies. She understands the significance of having the right team of people in a business and is passionate about helping business to attract, recruit and engage the right people so those people can inject their talents into the business; creating an environment where they can do great work and love what they do. Find more useful information and advice at www.inspirehq.com.au or by following Angela on LinkedIn.

 

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