March 27 , 2019 • 5 minute read • by Saeed
“There is no such thing as great work without longevity.”
Career longevity is no longer about staying in one job for years on end. But change is not what does you in. It’s the frequency of the changes. Shifting gears too often or pulling a 180 to do something completely different than your expertise can sabotage your efforts at building career longevity. Job hopping frequently because you can’t get along with your coworkers or management or because you lack focus and don’t know what you want in your life can be a career killer.
We are not talking about people with legitimate reasons to make change. The bad boss is the classic. Sometimes we’re stuck in a job that is not good for us or we need a career change. In these instances, change can be good.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, wage and salary workers have been with their current employer for a median of 4.6 years (that doesn’t include the 14 million Americans who are self-employed free agents).
That statistic simply represents a major generational shift where the trend has moved towards more change more often. In places like Silicon Valley, not only is it acceptable, it can even be a badge of honor. For the millennial set, it’s simply the way things are.
But as a whole, building longevity is no longer about staying with one company and holding out for the gold watch.
Rather, building career longevity is about staying fresh and building career equity.
You build equity by developing a reputation, set of skills, contacts and relationships as well as behaviors that value self improvement and the kind of adaptability that will allow you to be seen as a change maker, not someone who wants to cling to the status quo.
1. Relationship Equity
Above all, you should always be building positive long-term relationships with co-workers and colleagues. Make an effort to clearly understand who they are, how their values align with yours, and what professional skills they bring. You also have an opportunity to help these colleagues build their careers and skills, and in so doing, you build long-term and mutual respect, trust, and goodwill. Ultimately, people want to work with other people they like. So be likable, approachable and a good colleague. It goes a long way.
2. Reputation Equity
Think of your reputation as your professional brand. No company would ever risk their reputation intentionally. It is career suicide. Your professional brand is basically what people think of when you are not in the room: your character, values, judgment, reliability, integrity and other aspects of your character.
You build your reputation equity by the work that you do, how you talk to and treat people, your visibility, how you engage customers and clients and so on. It’s the footprint that you uniquely leave behind. The longer you work in your profession, the stronger your professional reputation will be. You are entirely in charge of it. You can either sabotage it or nurture it. The choices you make will determine your ultimate success.
3. Skills Equity
What exactly is your portfolio of skills? What skills do you lack? What skills are important to have in your role or industry? Build your professional portfolio around signature projects. Look to obtain skills that if leveraged would get you a big return on the investment you made in obtaining that skill. Look at career opportunities from the perspective of how they’ll help you build your skills portfolio. Raise your hand to lead projects whenever you can, even if it means putting in extra work. Find ways to distinguish your contributions, and work on high-visibility projects. Take responsibility for your own engagement and for attaining the skills that make you a stand out contributor.
A Final Word
So how long should you stay at your job? Well, according to research, it takes about two years to build career equity or a return on the individual’s investment of time, energy and skill that is meaningful to a firm and to the individual’s career.
If you just started a new job and you are worried about your staying power, or if you don’t know how to intentionally build career equity, get a coach. If the company does not provide one, hire one yourself or take the initiative to develop relationships with peers and “go-to” people for support. Avoid violating career threatening, yet unwritten rules. This is critical to making the new start a success and to building momentum. Remember, the way we manage endings helps us take advantage of new beginnings and build career equity, and thereby, career longevity.
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©2019 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A., CPCC