I've been working, in a variety of capacities, with the same company for almost five years now. As I approach graduation from a post-graduate degree, one possible employment option is to keep going with the same company. They have work that interests me, I know them, etc.

However, I'm curious about the perception of a long tenure. In a hypothetical world where I take this job, stay at the company for 3-5 years, then go looking for more work, is this going to be held against me, or make it more difficult to transition into another company.

  • I can imagine how it could be read as a 'lack of adventure', or a staid personality, or various other negative interpretations. My fundamental concern would be if it could reduce career mobility. The good news is that the particular company doesn't limit me in terms of technology or area, so what I'm really looking for is social concerns. As a recruiter, as a hiring manager, is someone with only one company on their resume a warning sign, 7-8 years after graduation? – HamsHroon Feb 11 '14 at 20:46
  • Are you afraid of 3-5 years in one company being too much or too little? – user1023 Feb 12 '14 at 11:18
  • I have seen a number of people get degrees while working. In a number of cases, they found it necessary to change jobs to get recognized for the new expertise. Sometimes that could be within the company, sometimes it was outside. The people you have been working with may still view you as HamsHroon, BA instead of what you are now. This doesn't speak to the length of time issue, but is something to consider as well. – Ross Millikan Feb 12 '14 at 17:26

I have a friend who is now 57. He joined a company when he graduated from university and never worked anywhere else. Now the company is shutting down. He's been there over 30 years. Some people are holding that against him, a little, because he doesn't know how things are done in other companies, doesn't have a wide range of experiences. So I'm not going to say that nobody will ever think less of you for staying with one company for a long time.

But 3-5 years is not that length of time.

What's really more important than optics is reality. If staying with this company is easy and comfortable and doesn't challenge you, that's fine. You just need to understand that easy, comfortable, and nonchallenging is a choice. Leaving to go to a different company where you have to learn new things, prove yourself all over again, and start fresh with new people is another option. It may be very rewarding: you may rise faster throughout your career by being the person who's never satisfied, always learning, always pushing yourself to do more and be more. Or, it may be a treadmill of competition and offbalance "adjustment periods" where you're always telling yourself that things will settle down soon but they never do. It could go either way. And over a 10 or 20 or 30 year period, you can choose to be, or realize you are being:

  • the one who stays put and stays comfortable
  • the one who always reaches for new heights, then for still higher ones
  • the one who is never at home, never really leading or contributing, always moving on

When I look at hiring someone with 20 years of experience I want to know which of those you are now (it can change over time of course.) So more than worrying about what people will think of you for not changing jobs, or for changing jobs, let me ask you: which of those three people do you want to be? Once you know that, you can start being that person and ensuring that your optics also reflect that you are that person.

  • Being 57, does it really makes sense to look for another job? Of course, assuming, you've made your savings just for that case... – user1023 Feb 12 '14 at 11:17
  • @ŁukaszL. quite an assumption. Many people don't save for retirement in their 30s and 40s and assume they will have their 50s to do so. – Kate Gregory Feb 12 '14 at 15:05

I would look at it from another view.

If you've stayed at the same company for 5-6-7 years has your pay gone up at a rate you deem acceptable? It's possible that by switching to a new company your salary could go up 10-15-20%.

If $ is important to you, then maybe you start to look elsewhere. If you're happy with your work setup, have some flexibility and have a good work/life balance then who maybe you just stay where you're at

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