Longer Tenures Create Opportunities for Workers and Challenges for Employers
It's become gospel in recent years that workers jump from job tojob to job. Some reports say that the average person entering theworkforce today will go through as many as 20 jobs in a career.It's been cited as a symptom of a new crop of workers who avoidcommitting to a single employer for more than a few years. Jobhopping has become so mainstream that staying with a single companyfor more than three or four years now needs to be justified withevidence of accomplishments and career advancement, much in the wayjob hopping has had to have justification behind it.
It's a trend that was true of male workers from the early 1980'sthrough the late 1990's. In that time frame, the current tenure ofwage and salaried male employees over 25 years old fell from 5.9years to 4.9 years. Since 2002, however, the median male tenureactually grew from 4.9 to 5.5 years. Over that same period, themedian tenure of women grew from 4.4 years to 5.4 years-tenures ofwomen had also grown in the decade and a half when male tenureswere falling, but that is largely attributable to a change in thecareer mix of women that began to favorlonger-tenure professions.
"The 1980's and 90's was aperiod filled with tremendous opportunity, when employeesdiscovered the power of being free agents and the salary advantagesof changing jobs. Since the turn of the millennium, though, theeconomy has been markedly less stable, and employees have been lesslikely to seek out unnecessary instability by changing positions,"says Rob Romaine, president of MRINetwork.
While consistent tenures of less than three or four years canstill cause negative perceptions, being open to changing careers ina slow economy like today's can be an effective way to jumpstart acareer. During the recession many employees took on addedresponsibilities without receiving a promotion, and those who didsee promotion often saw them in title only. The slow economy causedannual salary adjustments to stay in the low single-digitpercentages, yet job changers who succeeded at adding value totheir organizations throughout the recession can now find salaryincreases of 10 or 20 percent or more with new employers.
"In sectors of the economy that have reached, or even farsurpassed their pre-recession levels, like technical consulting,accounting, or healthcare, rising tenure can mean even fewerexperienced candidates are available for mid-career opportunities,"notes Romaine. "But, it also means that opportunities for thosewilling to change positions will be both more plentiful, and havemore potential for reward."
Median tenure for the healthcare industry over the last decadehas increased from 3.5 to 4.4 years, lengthening by three-tenths ofa year just since 2010. Professional and technical services mediantenure has grown even more-from 3.1 to 4.4 years since 2002.
For employers trying to find top performers, workers staying intheir positions longer means simply finding them becomes moredifficult. The longer someone isn't actively in the job market, theolder and more out of date their discoverable footprints become.LinkedIn profiles go unmaintained. Resumes in databases grow so oldthey are irrelevant.
"Finding top talent that isn't trying to be found requiresconstant surveillance and proactive network-building. There isnothing automated about the process and it's challenging for aninternal recruiting apparatus to proactively build a pipeline forkey positions that a company may only be hiring for every fewyears," notes Romaine.