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How long is "too long" in your job?

By on 15.02.13 in Career

A regular negative comment we hear from hiring managers, regardless of the economic climate, is that the candidates have spent too long in the one job. I have given this a lot of thought and I wonder, is this criticism wholly justified? Indeed, what is "too long"?

Taking each case on its merit, might it not be that someone has been regularly challenged, stimulated, continued to learn and been promoted? Is it necessarily an accurate indicator of someone's worth that they have switched jobs every two or three years? Might it not be that the person who chooses to grow within an organisation is the one who should be applauded for his or her commitment and loyalty?

I've met several seniors recently whose CVs are, by anyone's standards, hugely impressive and chart on-going development and an upwards trajectory over a period of 5-10 years with the one organisation. In each of these cases it would have been the easiest (or laziest, dependent upon your view point) choice for them to remain where they are but instead they've grasped the nettle and decided that the time is right to make a change.

This is never an easy decision to make, especially when the job market is not as buoyant or as secure as any of us would like, but it's one I personally respect and admire. 

I do understand that if someone has been with the same company in the same role since they left school then the question of ambition and adaptability could be raised but 8-10 years? Really?  We think not, have faith that people can adapt, learn, possibly retrain, and add value elsewhere.