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A Job for Life vs A Life of Jobs

Written by Kimberley Startup | October 24, 2011 | 0 Comments

It’s hard to imagine yourself working for the same company from the time you start working until the time you retire. Yet I met someone the other day who’s been working in the same job for thirty years. Content and fully committed to their employer, they have no plans to change until retirement.

But times have changed since leaving school or university, finding a job, staying there and working your way up the corporate ladder. Today, one in three workers remain in a job for less than two years, while to stay for thirty years is considered a form of institutionalisation*.

So does an inconsistent employment history make you an unpredictable employee who should be avoided? Or does it make you highly experienced and an attractive proposition for any would-be employer?

Luckily, today’s employers recognise the benefits of wider experience and the potential value this can bring. However, when you’re applying for another job and have already had a few over the last few years; it just requires a bit more work.

Here are some pros and cons of a varied work history:


√ With rapidly changing technology, adaptability is crucial for career success. Those who switch companies or industries often know how to adapt to new situations.

 Skills can transfer from one industry to another, such as communication, team management and numeracy. By developing a way to present your background, you’ll give the impression you have a focused job search.

 Workers employed for years at a time forget how to navigate the job market. If you’re changing jobs frequently, you’ll never have an out-of-date resume or be out of practice on interviewing.

√ You would have amassed a variety of experience, including knowledge of different industries, procedures and software.


Χ HR departments in particular dislike a varied work history and a candidate who has had a number of jobs can be a red flag for many employers.

Χ An inconsistent work history could demonstrate a lack of commitment to an organisation.

Χ It raises a level of doubt as to the genuine reasons why you left a previous employer.

Χ Some argue that people do not fully learn their jobs and gain valuable experience until they have been in the same role with the same company for at least two years.

So if you do have an inconsistent work history, the trick is to effectively market yourself for short-term success and show how you can add value to a prospective employer. But whether you do change careers several times or you decide to stay in a job for life – you have to do what’s right for you.

How many times have you swapped jobs? Has this been a positive or negative experience? Share your stories with us.

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