I was recently contacted by a client who was looking for a new position after having spent the last 10 years with her company and 17 years with her previous employer. My client was distressed about the prospects of landing a new job after having spent so much time with only two companies. She believed the prevalence of job-hopping, or professional pivoting as it has become known, would put her at a distinct disadvantage in the job market. I personally believe very few organizations view longevity negatively, and your dependability and loyalty would be a breath of fresh air to employers faced with high turnover rates.
According to research by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, longevity is becoming a thing of the past and professional pivoting is on the rise. The study by the bureau shows the median number of years today’s average worker has been at his or her current employer is 4.2 years. That is down slightly from 4.6 years in January 2014 and is down significantly from 1996 when nearly half of all workers in the United States had been with their employer for 10 years or more. What this means is that longevity is becoming less common, so the rare breed of individuals who stay with an employer for five-plus years are viewed as loyal and reliable to potential employers.
False Perceptions of Longevity
There is a perception among some job seekers that longevity in a job can result in someone being viewed as stagnant in their career, too comfortable in their job, and falling behind with advancements in technology or the working world. I don’t believe this is the case; loving what you do, advancing within your company, and growing as an employee can all happen at one employer over many years. You don’t have to job hop to get those things. In fact, many companies provide continuing education, excellent benefits, and upward mobility to keep employees happy so they will stay longer. Being able to grow professionally within a company is an absolute plus. Employers with such attributes demonstrate their concern about the growth and development of their employees. Again, all positives in my book.
The Positives of Longevity
I advised my client that her longevity demonstrated many positive qualities employers find attractive. Her career tenure clearly showed loyalty, dependability, growth, and motivation. All characteristics highly desirable by employers. I explained how the skills she developed while in her long-term positions will boost her desirability among potential employers. In addition, human resources personnel will attest to the high cost of frequent turnover, so sharing her desire to “find a place to call home” is a great competitive advantage in a world of people who are just looking for the next great thing to come along. This all holds true for anyone with longevity in a position as it demonstrates the ability to stick with something even if times get tough, which all employers can appreciate.
Longevity Still Pays Off
A 2014 study by Ming D. Leung, an assistant professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, found freelancers seeking work online tend to be hired more frequently when they have more experience with similar project types. In other words, the longer freelancers had been doing the same type of work, the more likely they were to get hired, according to the study. Leung said the study demonstrates that to have a leg up in the job market, freelancers must be prepared to demonstrate their credibility and competence to employers through a history of consistent work. In addition, corporate appreciation for longevity is beginning to show even more as some companies have started giving financial incentives to those who serve their organization for 10 years or more.
What it All Means
If you are someone with longevity on your resume, you offer many experiences, qualities, and skills potential employers will appreciate. I encourage you to embrace your longevity and wear it as a proud emblem of your ability to maintain loyalty to an organization long-term, as well as your dependable nature. Now take that longevity and use it to your advantage in your job search so you can land the next position you want to stay in for the long haul.