Why job longevity matters

July 8, 2016
Elsbeth McSorley

By Elsbeth McSorley

Job hopping may seem like it’s on trend, but sticking with a company for longer provides greater benefits

Those crazy kids and how they look for work. Back in the days of Don Draper circa 1960, the fictional guy from “Mad Men,” most people graduated from college and would find a job and stay at that company until they retired. It may not have been exciting, but was stable. Now, people get a new job about every four years, and it has been reported that sometimes people who are under 25 years old will seek a new job every 2.5 years.

Perhaps some human resources people don’t care if a job seeker has been at the same company for more than a few years, but many still like to see stability in applicants. There are several things a human resource professional can tell about an applicant who has remained at previous jobs for at least several years. 

  1. A person who has been at a job at least four years or longer has gone through some battles and remained loyal to the company instead of bailing when things got tough. Most companies will have something unpleasant happen every few years. The person who has been somewhere that long has stuck it out, helped the company rebound from the crisis, and learned from the experience. Some lessons have to be learned the hard way, through battle and with battle scars. That can be valuable to a new company.
  2. Some workplaces put a heavy emphasis on development. This often means attending conferences or gaining other professional development. In some situations, the longer a person is at a job, the more opportunities they have had for professional development. Some companies like to give different people several different jobs so they better understand the process of what they are doing. These things can be invaluable to a new job, and they cannot be experienced if employees are leaving jobs fast and often.
  3. Every time a new employee is hired the human resources department is trying to find someone who will be committed to their new job. HR professionals and business owners want commitment from a new hire. When a person has been at a job for a longer period of time, it shows that they are capable of being committed to something. Every new business does a certain amount of retraining, if for no other reason than to ingrain a new culture and set of expectations with the new employee. You want to ensure you hire someone who will be worth that additional time and expense to train or retrain, and will stick it out with you for at least a few years.
  4. Someone who stays at a job for a lengthy period of time will show that they can make it through a job review and keep their position. It is not uncommon that a poor performing employee will resign right before they are let go. Perhaps they have received poor reviews or perhaps they’ve been warned that their performance will need to improve or they’ll get fired. Rather than work harder, some employees leave first; and they leave often. 

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Think about what good reviews can tell you about an applicant who has held a job for a while:

  • They are more than likely on time.
  • They get along well with other employees.
  • They execute tasks that are expected of them.
  • They come to work.

The longer a person has had a job, the harder it is to fool their evaluators. 

Not everyone will remain in a job for even 2.5 years before they switch. However, people who want to be able to have their pick of the best jobs should probably try to stay in one job for at least 4-5 years at a time. This gives new employers a good perception of them, and allows them to learn more and do better work—no matter where that work is done.

Still searching for that perfect employee? Ensure you are attracting the right type of candidates with our blog post, 5 ways to attract the best talent.

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