What Does Your Career Tenure Say About You?

November 27, 2014

In today’s economy, competition in the job market is fierce. And if you’re one of the millions of unemployed or unhappy workers in the world searching for another career, a resume will be the most powerful thing you have on your side, but it can either work for you or against you.

job hopping

Did it seem that you worked at your last job “forever” or does your resume show that you tend to skip around from employer to employer? If you’ve been with your past firm for a decade or more, does that mean that you are inflexible, or does a three or four year job pattern show that you are willing to change and open to new challenges?

How do each of these unique situations look on your resume, does it hurt or harm your overall  perspective when job hunting?

Youth vs. Experience

According to recent studies, results were surprising as they revealed long-term employees with a high level of experience have a 20 to 40-percent greater chance of landing a job that is under their experience and/or pay level. On the other hand, candidates with only one, two or three years of tenure are working in the majority of the positions the more experienced candidates are capable of doing. Are these results suggesting that being committed to an employer doesn’t offer any significant benefits? Are retirement programs being replaced with 401k and other options (if there are any of these programs at all)?

Youth versus experience offers another age-old question, which casts a new shadow into this equation. Does the younger employee have a brighter perspective or does the experience of the older candidate bring more to the table?

Troubling questions that need valuable consideration, so let’s take a look at some more questions and answers, pros and cons, on the topic of career tenure:

IS LACK OF ENGAGEMENT – a reason for switching jobs?

More recent data shows that the average job tenure in the United States is only four years and for adults under thirty, that number drops to just one year. Many workers are deciding to leave their jobs sooner rather than later, often because employers are not capturing their interest, talent and imagination, during or soon after, their “probationary” period.

These new employees can be seen as replaceable “cogs in the wheel” rather than visionaries with fresh ideas and information. They should instead be inspired to learn more, take greater initiative and become more invested in making the company better for both themselves and their employer.

PROS AND CONS OF TENURE – or lack thereof

When making a departure from one firm, the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side of the job market, which may be another reason for so many fluctuations in one’s resume. Here are  some pros and cons for showcasing a lengthier tenure and how this could be perceived:

PRO – They are dedicated

CON – They may not be current with industry technology and trends

PRO – They are reliable and proficient

CON – They may not be flexible or ambitious

And for those with shorter tenures, here are some assumptions that could be made from viewing their resume:

PRO – They are ambitious and open to new challenges

CON – They are fickle and perhaps not loyal

PRO – They are current and up-to-date

CON – They are prone to difficulties or conflict


Especially when crafting and promoting your resume, it is important to address these concerns. For example, you could market your tenure:

OFFENSIVELY for short tenure – You were seeking greater compensation and/or more responsibility

OFFENSIVELY for long tenure – You are dependable, hard-working and responsible

Or take a defensive stand for the number of your years in the workforce or different positions held at a variety of workplaces:

DEFENSIVELY for short tenure – You left due to situations out of your control, layoffs, the failing economy, moved out of state, etc.

DEFENSIVELY for long tenure – You were supporting your family, paying off a mortgage, or found no other significant opportunities available to you

Put your best foot forward and take a stand for your tenure, whether it is decades old or shorter  in terms of years. Your experience is valuable regardless of time spent at any given organization.

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About The Author

Megan Ritter is an online business journalist with a background in marketing and telecommunications. In addition to researching how social media impacts different industries and business processes, her writing also covers virtual technology, globalization, and reputation management.

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    […] In a tough job market, every aspect of your resume is closely examined. Does your career tenure pattern help or hurt you? Megan Ritter analyzes both cases.  […]

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