Select 'Print' in your browser menu to print this document.
Issue: March 15, 2009
CAREER PROS: Job Changes Increase Your Value
by John A. Challenger
We live in an age where the one-company worker no longer exists. Your parents or grandparents may have worked for one company their entire lives. Now it is not uncommon to be employed by three, four and even five or more companies during one’s worklife.
Accelerated by unending layoffs, over a third of managers and executives have changed jobs four or more times, according to surveys my company conducts among the individuals who go through our program. Some of these job changes have been made by choice and some have been the result of layoffs.
The ever-present threat of mergers and acquisitions also helps explain the large jump in the number of multiple job changes.
A job history showing a variety of experiences can be very attractive to employers. A diverse background demonstrates vast experience and shows your value from having worked under different systems and structures.
The key is to communicate what you have accomplished at each company. Specify on your resume and in the interview the goals you met. Discuss how you helped the companies for which you worked meet their objectives. You want to show that your contributions at each company made a difference, which will enhance your value to prospective employers.
It is best, however, to have a work record that includes employment at one company for a significant period of time, at least four or five years. Otherwise, the list of positions on a resume may reveal that you have had a difficult time holding down a job or, possibly, getting along with others.
Time for a Change?
Under what circumstances should you seek a position at another company? Some ambitious individuals constantly look for new opportunities to advance their careers. In light of the increase in mergers, acquisitions and restructurings, many employees are being asked to evaluate their worth to a company.
If you learn that your company is a candidate for acquiring another firm or is being bought out itself, it is time to seriously and honestly assess your current position, or someone else may do it for you. When a company is merged or acquired, the new management will immediately make changes in the employee ranks. Individuals will be retained who fill positions the new company will need. Those who duplicate responsibilities already being handled by the acquired company are likely to be discharged.
Another case may be if you know that your company’s business has been down for a period of time. If your company is closing manufacturing plants, shutting distribution centers and, in general, contracting its business, that is a sure sign that management is looking for places to cut – and your job could be next.
Also, pay attention to those individuals who joined the firm at the same position and the same time you did. Are they getting promotions faster than you? Are their responsibilities different or more significant than yours? If the answer is yes, then you should realistically look at what the future holds for you at that company.
Alternatively, there may be times when your concern is not that your job is in jeopardy, but that you are stagnating. Companies concerned about their bottom line may not be promoting as fast or giving significant salary increases. Sometimes, the only way to improve your position and the money you make is by seeking out positions at other companies.
However, be careful about being too quick to leave your current job. In these days of nonstop mergers and downsizings, the company you are considering going to work for may be a merger candidate itself. Before you take another job, investigate as best you can the new firm’s financial situation and whether there are rumors of a buyout.
Control the Conversation
The bottom line in changing jobs is to take control of your own destiny. Sometimes you cannot avoid getting laid off. It is generally not your fault and you may not even see it coming. But in many instances, you may perceive changes at the company which signal you to take action, whether it is to try to hold on to your current position or to look for another job.
To a future employer, it can be impressive to have several jobs listed on your resume. In fact, because of your different experiences, you may be a stronger candidate than individuals who have only worked for one company their entire career. They can only bring the experiences learned at one business, whereas you bring knowledge, training and background from different companies and possibly different industries. When talking with an employer, remember these points about your job history:
Present the fact that you have worked for several companies as a strength of your candidacy. By creating added value for prospective employers, you will receive job offers that much sooner.
John Challenger, one of the most oft-quoted business executives in America, is chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., an international outplacement consulting firm.
Copyright 2013 JJ Acquisition Corp. All rights reserved.