My friend asked me the other day if spending 10 years at her company would negatively affect her job search. Since I didn’t see her resume I couldn’t really give a good answer. But my natural response was no, unless you’ve been in the same job for ten years with minimal to no progression.
Today, we are much more accepting of job hopping but is the opposite of that a growing concern about people who have stayed with a company too long?
I hope my friend doesn’t spend too much time overly concerned about something that seems more hype than reality. A quick survey of my Twitter & Facebook followers revealed that most HR people don’t see long tenure at a company as a negative. Instead they would look for characteristics such as progressive work experience, promotions and learning additional skills.
From my perspective the difficulty can be looking at a tenured candidate and wondering if they are Michael Jordan at the top of his game or Brett Favre going into the 2010 season with the Vikings (that was not the season that led to NFC championship game).
How do you know when someone still has plenty of fire left or they are just looking for a perch while they wait for retirement?
Based on my survey of HR Professionals, here are some key things we can look out for:
- Keep in mind a that a candidate who has stayed with a company for a long time doesn’t always translate to a great employee. Some companies don’t encourage employee development, others make it easy for people to stay. Regardless, don’t assume the candidate will walk in and produce mind blowing work.
- Has the person worked in different teams or on different projects?
- What kind of additional skills has the candidate acquired? Do they have the same skill set they started out with or has it expanded?
- Are these skill sets still relevant to the industry? Behind or ahead of the industry curve?
- Consider the candidates industry. In client based industries, companies are much more interested in retaining employees because clients may leave when an employee leaves the company.
For the candidate who has been at a company for a long time, take a look at the above and re-write your resume to reflect the growth in skills and experience you’ve acquired over the years.
One final note for all of us (especially HR pros) to consider: what kind of organization do you work for? Does it encourage long term growth? Gaining additional skills or education? If it doesn’t what are you doing to build you skills?
Your thoughts? Drop them in the comments I’d love to hear to what you think.