I've worked my way up to a VP position at my association over the ten years since I graduated. I’m happy here, but I’m afraid that having only one long-term employer will hurt my chances when I look elsewhere. Should I be concerned?
What’s most important—for you and for prospective employers—is that you’ve worked your way up, which implies that you’ve performed well and been recognized with increasingly challenging responsibilities. David Martin, Managing Partner of DC-based Sterling Martin Associates, says, “It’s rare to see new grads staying with their first firm for a decade these days, but certainly not a bad sign. The key is progression. If it’s clear the candidate’s grown, I see long-term employment as an indicator they’ve committed themselves and proved to be valuable. “
Change jobs to experience a new culture or a new field. Change jobs to advance to a higher level than you can reach with your current employer. Change jobs to broaden your skill set. BUT, if you value your organization and you’re stimulated by increasingly sophisticated work, don’t change just because you’ve been there ten years. When the time comes to look for a new job, highlight the variety of your experience in the different positions you’ve held and the accomplishments that earned you promotions. Meanwhile, make sure you’re developing professional expertise and experience in all areas that support your career goals.
Published in Associations Now, July 2006