Today marks the 5-year anniversary of working for my current employer. It’s also 5 years since I graduated college and entered the working world full-time, as I haven’t changed jobs since graduation.
I’m approaching the median employment tenure of those in my field. In other words, in a few months, I will have worked at the same company longer than 50% of my colleagues in the same industry.
Compounding this is the fact that architecture and engineering have one of the highest median tenures of any industry, and that younger people have a median tenure nearly three times shorter than their older colleagues. Details can be found in the report I like to above.
I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but merely pointing out that I’m a rarity among my friends and colleagues, most of whom have moved jobs at least once since I graduated.
Implications of Short Employment Tenure
The resulting question from this data is—why? Folks who move jobs are considering the benefits of doing so, as well as what they’re missing out on.
Of course, it would be foolish to ignore reality. Other considerations come into play, like where someone wants to live, who they marry, etc. Nevertheless, what are the pros and cons of working for one company for the long run?
Benefits of a Long-Term Job
There are seven key things I can think of. They include:
- More employee benefits. Many employers make their benefits package tiered to reflect the length of time with the company. Examples of time-sensitive perks might include total vacation time, amount vested in a profit sharing plan, or company retirement match.
- Advantages of seniority. Seniority comes with its own benefits, many of which are unofficial. These are things like the ability to have first choice of projects, or freedom to manage your own time. You’re also looked up to by younger staff members as a role model.
- May be less likely to be laid off or fired. With more experience and more vested interest in the company, you may be on the bottom of the list for layoffs. This can also back-fire if your salary is too heavy for the company to carry.
- Shows more stability on a resume. If you do eventually switch jobs (and most people will), an employment history filled with long-term positions will generally be seen as a sign of stability and loyalty, and should earn you points in your interview.
- Opportunity for promotion. While maintaining your title is usually possible if you switch jobs within the same career path, you’ll still have to “earn your stripes” at the new office, which means that promotions might take longer to get than would otherwise be expected.
- Stability in residence. Having a stable employer also means a stable place to live, since you won’t be moving around to change jobs. If you have a family, that could mean an easier time for your kids and less expenses associated with relocating all the time.
- Don’t have to go through “learning curve” repeatedly. The toughest part of starting a new job is having to learn the tasks, rules, expectations, relationships, and everything else that exists at your new office. The learning curve can take years if the job is sufficiently different, so by staying put you actually save hundreds of hours of productive time.
Problems with Sticking Around
Of course, it’s not all fun and games. Working non-stop for one company has its drawbacks, such as:
- Less variety of expertise. Most companies have areas of focus and tend to be methodical in their execution, which means that you’ll be exposed to only a handful of ways to do a handful of things.
- Complacency about job. Rookies often start a new job with a lot of passion and a drive to prove their worth. As the years go by, you might be tempted to fall back on seniority or the great relationship with your boss instead of continuing to put forward the effort that got you hired and retained for so long in the first place.
- May be limited with respect to salary negotiation. Salary can really go either way—sometimes seniority is a good thing and properly rewarded. Other times, it’s overlooked and can only be used as leverage to jump ship for better pay somewhere else.
- You’re going against society’s expectations. It’s thought that most of your friends will change jobs about 10 times during their life, and many will change careers completely at least a few of those times. If you’re sticking around at the same company for too many years, you might get pressure from colleagues about being too conservative with your work or other similar comments.
How About You?
If you’re employed by someone else, how long have you been in your current position? What was the longest you’ve ever worked for someone? What were your reasons for staying or leaving?
Photo by totalAldo