The employment market is changing, and career paths are changing with it.
Longevity of service used to be a key measure of employee effectiveness – staying for a long time equated to doing a good job. Now, the inverse is almost true. Those, who stay in the same role in the same company could be viewed with mistrust “Why haven’t they moved on? What is wrong with them?” The go-getters of our corporate world are out there mixing it with their peers, moving on onwards and upwards (often between companies) every 18-36 months.
Many people would put this down to the supposed limited attention spans and over-ambition of the current crop of 20-somethings, but I would suggest that it is a situation driven by the market more than the workforce.
The nature of “work” has changed.
Dynamic start-ups have burst onto the scene over the past ten years, and brought with them short-term opportunities to make your mark. Once the initial work has been done, the challenge fades, and you are on the hunt for your next adventure. Why sit around when you can be changing the world?
Corporates are increasingly enjoying the benefits of a more flexible workforce. In PWCs recent study, “The World Of Work In 2022” 46% of global HR Directors said that 20% of their workforce will be temporary contractors by this time. Three “perfect” people doing the same job for six years is better than one average (but loyal) person doing that job for the six years.
Individuals are also realising their worth. The recent recession and advances in remote-working technology have combined to encourage millions of people across the world to dip their toes in the waters of self-employment. Whilst they may still be looking for that perfect corporate role, they are using their skills as an external provider to multiple clients, often for an extended period. People can move in and out of employment or self-employment or even take sabbaticals without question. These periods will no longer be viewed as “wasted space” on a CV, and they will often teach someone vital skills that they otherwise may not have acquired.
Initial candidate assessments are therefore also changing.
Recruiters have to dig much deeper into someone’s experience to find the hidden value in their activities. It is no longer enough to read the “Sales Manager” title and count the years of service – during extended periods of consultancy, they will have had to sell themselves, something that offers some unique lessons. The infamous “five-second” scan of a CV has to be consigned to the history books – it is not about how long you have done a role, but what you have achieved while you were there. To understand this, you simply have to read the fine print.
If you are approaching two years in your role, it is no longer the case that you need to stay to ensure that your CV “looks” reasonable. As long as you deliver in your role, longevity of service is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Limits, of course, remain…. Unless you are an interim consultant, a series of roles under a year each will raise suspicions, as it is hard to achieve anything significant in less than a year, but if you have added true value to your employer, you should feel free to move on when you are ready.
Employers are talking about “loyalty” a little less these days – “engagement” is more the buzzword to encourage retention.
Similarly, whilst loyalty is less valued these days, the individual needs to focus on their own skills and employability, to ensure their long-term success.