Business & Finance

Why did you stay at that job so long?

VIN SCULLY in the broadcast booth (Wikipedia photo).

VIN SCULLY in the broadcast booth (Wikipedia photo).

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

This past Sunday marked the retirement of a gentleman who defied the odds – not only today’s, but historical odds for all things related to work and careers. He took the job he was to retire from back in 1950. That’s right – he worked there for 67 years doing exactly what he was hired to do.

He was (and is) Vincent Edward Scully – popularly known as Vin, voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers. And while his career was full of sports legend, I’ve got to wonder how hard it would have been for him to get a new job in this market.

Your Money Matters logoThe Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that workers entering today will hold an average of 10 different jobs by the time they are 40. They predict the next generation to reach 12 in the same window. Forbes and Fortune magazine articles abound with the warning that 3-5 year on the job without a promotion is a death sentence for career growth.

They also site that salary stagnation, questionable motivation, and potential un-hirable status can be achieved by staying in the same job for longer than 48 months. But really, Vin shouldn’t have to apologize for staying on the same job for ‘too many’ years.

In a weird reversal of the old, unwritten rules, frequent job changes aren’t negative to hiring managers and instead are “almost expected.” It’s easy to see the reasons for this shift. During the last recession, so many people were obliged to move around that the old job-hopping stigma all but disappeared.

But the most interesting part of this shift is that the old norm was based on a myth. Millennials, the generation born since 1980, are widely accused of switching jobs far more often than their parents did. In fact, the BLS also reported in 2014 that the average 25-year-old has already held 6.3 jobs since age 18.

But a new BLS report puts all of this in context. The National Longitudinal study of Youth 1979, a survey of almost 10,000 workers polled first in 1979 and most recently (at ages 47 to 56) in 2013, showed that this group had held 5.5 jobs between the ages of 18 and 24 years.

So Millennials aren’t that different from Boomers. And now that the oldest Millennials are in their mid-thirties, they are interviewing job candidates. Their norm is the average candidates’ norm. So, if you’re one of those long-term employees looking for a new position the question is how to persuade them that longevity at one company isn’t a negative?

Three ideas – First, take a minute to list what you learned and achieved at that “long term” job you held. You’ve certainly taken for granted, if not forgotten, all the things you did. Weave those into your resume, according to the job description you are looking to fill.

Second, read up on some current industry trends and be ready to toss those into the conversation. Being fluent in current lingo and the flavor of the month trends will demonstrate that your experience isn’t obsolescence.

Third, and probably most valuable, be upbeat and positive about the company you’re thinking of leaving. Point out that you’ve had a terrific run there, and that it has been a great place to work, with smart leaders and lots of current tools and resources for development. Your enthusiasm, especially if it’s authentic, will answer the question about why you stuck around.

Good luck, remember that your work is the origination point of money coming into your life – and your money matters.

Chris can be reached at chris@ymminc.com

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