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Ask James Caan – Issue 124

Dear Member,

First of all, happy New Year to everyone. I hope you enjoyed the festive break and are looking forward to the year ahead.

For many, the New Year signifies a new start, including a new career. But for some, identifying how to find the right opportunity can be a challenge. So, to help with this, the team at webrecruit has put together a free eBook to help equip you for the year ahead.

How to get a job in 2013 is full of advice, tips and tangible guidance – including tips from the experts – to help guide you on to the path of career success. So if you’re looking for a new job, I recommend downloading it here:

Jumping straight back into the column, and this week, I received an email from Mark. Mark tells me he’s been in his current position with the same company for the last five years and is now looking for a change.

He asked me:

‘Does five years at the same company indicate loyalty to prospective employers or will they think I’m reluctant to embrace change?’

Mark, you raise a very interesting question which holds much prominence in today’s recruitment world – the concept of a job for life versus a life of jobs.

According to the Mail Online, today, one in three workers remains in a job for less than two years and employers are quickly recognising the benefits this wider experience can bring to an organisation. But what does that mean for those who have remained committed to their position long term?

Having stable employment is certainly not a bad thing, Mark. However, if it is with the same employer and your resume fails to demonstrate how you have pushed yourself and progressed, it may work against you in the interview process.

Remaining with the same employer may be perceived in two ways. The first: you’re committed and loyal, and have identified the company as the place to build your career. On the other hand, remaining within the same organisation may seem like you have become comfortable and set within your comfort zone.  It is up to you to best communicate which line of thought you belong to.

With this in mind, Mark, you must use your long term employment to impress recruiters or potential employers rather than scare them away.

From looking at your CV, I can see you’ve received a number of promotions within the company. Ensure you note these changes and advancements in your resume. Specify the dates you were in certain roles so prospective employers can see that you advanced your career.

To further demonstrate your achievements, specify the challenges you faced and your accomplishments within each job function.

Not only will this indicate that you have continued to acquire knowledge and achieve new outcomes, but that you have excelled in new skills throughout your career and taken on new challenges.

You mentioned in your email that you took a training course whilst with your employer. This is definitely worth mentioning in your CV as it shows you have the desire and initiative to continue improving your skills.

When it comes to interview, Mark, employers will always enquire into these situations. They want to know you’re serious about your decision to move from your long-term employer and you’re reasons are more than just stalemate.

If you are faced with a question about your long tenure, simply indicate that you have valued the experience and skills gained in your previous positions, but you’re now looking for new challenges where you can continue to grow with new experiences.

Overall, Mark, your loyalty and commitment to your employer is an impressive sign for hiring managers, but they have to know you have progressed over the years; that you have the ambition, motivation and skills to add value to their company.

But whether you change careers several times, once or twice, or you decide to stay in a job for life – you have to do what’s right for you.


James Caan

One thought on “Ask James Caan – Issue 124

  1. John Ashmore on Reply

    I think James gave a sensible and balanced response to Mark’s question, and he is absolutely spot on with his last paragraph.

    Quote: “But whether you change careers several times, once or twice, or you decide to stay in a job for life – you have to do what is right for you.”

    The longest I stayed with any company, in my formative management experience ‘twenties’, was 11 years. The shortest was one year, and that was because the guy I respected and admired who hired me left the company. The incoming individual was a poor substitute, I could see what was going to happen so I chose to move on. Two years later, I was asked back to complete a business plan for them as a consultant, because they got it so wrong.

    I have moved onwards, and generally upwards, since starting as an apprentice, culminating in my last job of being a board level exec VP accountable for the safety and reliability of 70,000 buses and coaches, spread across the USA and Canada. I have never thought twice about moving on if the vibes are right. I treat my work as an extension of a hobby, and if you really enjoy your hobby, you enjoy your job.

    Remember, look after ‘you’, you only live once, so go for it, and ENJOY!

    I like the following reminder on the desk:
    (and please substitute ‘woman’ for ‘man’ in appropriate cases!)

    If you think you are beaten, you are.
    If you think you dare not, you don’t.
    If you’d like to win but think you can’t,
    it’s almost certain you won’t.
    Life’s battles don’t always go
    to the stronger or faster man,
    But sooner or later, the man who wins
    is the man who thinks he can!

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