Friday, May 10, 2013

Long-timers and Job-hoppers

It can be a struggle for people to determine whether to stay or leave their jobs. When you are happy with your job of many years, what would make you leave? Things are good. The company treats you well, you are advancing in the ranks and you are comfortable. On the other hand, what if you have only been in your job for a year or two and a recruiter calls to tell you an amazing company is looking for someone like you. How do you know whether or not to pursue? What is too long or too short in a job? Who determines that? The bottom line is there are both benefits and dangers to both staying too long and leaving too soon. Below is what I have seen in my experience.

It is not the 1960’s anymore. No one expects you to stay with a company for twenty years, but so what if you do? There are lots of perks to working in a company for many years: the stock options, vacation days, and of course the ease of getting things done. Long-timers know everyone and they know how to get things done. Red tape doesn’t exist because they have the process down. Getting that budget approved is a five minute process because they know how to navigate the system.

There are negatives to being a long-timer however. A stigma is often attached to working in one company too long in the fashion industry. Employers wonder whether this long-timer is adaptable. Long-timers have a limited understanding of different management styles, processes, and change management. When someone moves to a new company, their knowledge of the industry expands. You only know what you have studied or are exposed to. Forget for a minute what employers think. Let’s talk about what happens when the long-timer is laid off because the company decides they need a new perspective or some ‘fresh blood’. The long-timer is now in the job market with a very limited network. In this business, connections can be everything when looking for a job.


Job hopping is usually someone who works two years or less at a company before moving to the next company. As I mentioned earlier, no one expects you to stay with a company for twenty years and there are significant benefits to making a change. First, pay tends to increase at a quicker rate. For some reason most companies will pay more for someone on the outside than they would if you were promoted from within. Secondly, a job-hopper has more opportunity and exposure to build their network. Finally, the job-hopper learns new skills and can easily adapt to change.

So what’s wrong with job-hopping? Future employers worry they will spend time to hire and train you only to have that position again vacant in a short time. It is a disruption in workflow and to the productivity of the team. There is also a consideration as to why you are job-hopping. What is it about this person that makes them move so often? Are they incapable of building relationships? Companies also spend money to recruit and hire you. According to the consulting firm, Advisory Board Company, employee turnover can cost a company anywhere between 50%-150% of a person’s annual salary. That’s a lot of risk to take on someone who has a record of a short stay.

So what’s the optimal amount of time to stay in a company? The long answer is, it depends. My estimate is between three and seven years. It’s ok to have one or two short stays as long as you can explain it and your resume is balanced with a mix of longer stays. As for long-timers, if your career has advanced through the years and you were at a successful brand (i.e. profitable and prestigious), employers will feel lucky to have someone so loyal and dedicated.

How do you think your resume looks right now? What can you do to be more attractive to employers? What have you heard from recruiters on your resume? What makes that new job look better than your current job? Please comment and share your thoughts on this with everyone. Especially if you are a recruiter or work in human resources!

Learn more about the fashion industry from Career Coach Kate Kibler at

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