Monday, November 17, 2008

Tenure, or "How Long Have I Been Here?"

As candidates search for new career paths they quite often think about what they want in a new position. Higher salary. Better benefits. The corner office. An easier commute. These are all legitimate reasons to seek out a new job, but have you ,as a job seeker, ever stopped to think about what the firms want or need? Of course we all realize firms are looking for specific skill sets, education or training. So you think "I've got everything they are looking for. It's in the bag."

Let me ask you... How is your tenure?

It's a safe bet that you may not have thought much about that. I can tell you the agencies and firms are thinking about it though. In fact, it's one of, if not THE, first thing they take a look at. Sure, it was easy to be lured away in 2006/2007 when salaries were sky-high and benefits packages were amazing. Some candidates had even made as many as three career changes in one year. That seems like a lot, right? Well it is. Although candidates probably weren't thinking about it at the time, it's now coming back to haunt them.

Fast forward to 2008.

As the year progresses we all witness firms tightening their belts. Budget cuts are leading to reductions in salaries, bonuses being cut and even the dreaded layoff. One benefit of being in the Washington, D.C. area is that there is still a strong employment market. That's not to say that firm's aren't still tightening their belts. This time around they're hiring more strategically, and as mentioned earlier tenure is one of the first things they look at.

As an agency we are here to educate and guide you into making the right decision. Due to the current state of the economy and job market it is tough out there. There are more job seekers (many unemployed by no fault of their own) than there are jobs. If you are currently looking for a new job because you feel you deserve a higher salary, you don't like your boss or you're not getting enough vacation time (again, all legitimate reasons to seek out new employment) you might want to make sure your tenure is strong enough to support those reasons. If not, staying put until the economy picks up might be your best bet. Firms generally like to see candidates with a minimum of three years at their present firm. Job hopping indicates instability, inability to commit and lack of dedication. How do you think it looks to a prospective employer when, regardless of the reason, you left your last two or three jobs after only six months? 

Steffan and Company recently started recruiting for an administrative position. In a weeks time we received nearly one thousand resumes. Some qualified, most not. Of those with qualifying backgrounds, only a handful had tenure of 18 months or longer. You, as a job seeker, have a lot of competition out there right now. Additionally many firms are scrutinizing resume and backgrounds, so make sure you have all your bases covered. That means getting employment dates correct, with days, months and years (a majority of firms do very thorough background checks!), your reasons for leaving (terminated, layoff, relocation), a list of 4-6 supervisory references, and most of all... make sure you have that strong tenure!