I always find this topic to be particularly thought-provoking, especially given that we are currently navigating a job market in which a huge proportion of the workforce aren't spending much longer than one year in a role. Can staying 'loyal' for more than four years do more damage than good?
I came across this article on Monster, and one point really struck a chord with me, partly because it had quite a lovely, relatable little narrative; comparing a career with a romantic relationship (anyone who has read my stuff before knows that I particularly enjoy this comparison.)
The point in question discusses perception. How do you think a hiring manager would perceive you, knowing that you'd spent the last, say, 12 years at the same company? Monster discusses the comparison between this scenario and your first date with someone who had just got out of a serious, 12 year relationship - perhaps even a marriage. How would you perceive that person? I'm going to throw it out there and say that I'd probably feel that that person wasn't truly into me. I would feel as though I was possibly a rebound and that their connection to the last 12 years won't be disappearing any time soon. They'll have become so used to the routine of being with their previous partner, how could they possibly learn how to be with me from scratch? New relationships need a chance and a clear run. How do I know that they are ready for me yet? What if we get together and a few months down the line they decide they made a mistake and want to go back? STRESS! You could, however, consider that their previous relationship had grown stale and dull. They might have become complacent or perhaps their partner hurt them. Still, it's a lot to move on from!
I could go on and on, but who is to say that this isn't how a hiring manager would feel about you? I think there is such a fine line when it comes to how long you stay in the same role. I think that 'loyalty' should be celebrated but I also think that to better yourself you need to grow in different directions, and that's okay! I say 'loyalty' in inverted commas because I don't think you should feel under that kind of pressure in relation to your career. 'Loyalty' is a very personal word, one which I don't use lightly. 'Loyalty' should be on your own terms and you should define the word in your own way. Chances are, your boss hasn't got to the position they're in by staying in the same job their whole lives.
What are your thoughts?
3. Perception Imagine you’re on a date and discover that your companion has just come out of a 12-year relationship. Think about how you would perceive that person and how he or she may relate to you. Unfair or not, you will make assumptions based on the longevity of your date’s previous relationship. Your reaction would not be unlike that of a hiring manager when evaluating the resume of a candidate who spent the past 12 years working for another company. Will this person be easy to train? Will he adapt well to a new environment? What made this person leave after so many years? Are his skills current? Is he motivated? The questions are endless and can be enough to put the employer off the candidate entirely.