Forget the dream of getting a Rolex watch for 20 years on the job. Forget retiring with a defined benefit plan that will let you coast through your later years. And don’t get too comfortable in your job. Whether by your choice or not, the trend of spending a career at one company is rare these days.
I recently read an article by Gary Burnison, CEO of Korn Ferry, who pointed out one of the biggest issues facing every business today—the era of the career nomad. He noted that the average job tenure is just 4 years overall and even less than that for younger professionals. “For them, it’s all about learn and earn, make an impact and move on.”*
To keep employees and extend their tenure, Burnison suggested screening applicants for learning agility and making development a leadership priority. If you are fortunate enough to land at a firm that truly values leadership and development and offers training programs, coaching and an open culture that encourages personal and professional growth—take full advantage and soak it up like a sponge!
During my 30+ year career, I have worked for firms with revenues ranging from $2 Billion down to $2 Million and I have yet to experience such a proactive culture. However, I was very lucky to work for several bosses who valued initiative and my ongoing development. They supported me whenever I proactively asked for additional training to complete my master’s program, attend conferences or join peer groups to expand my connections and resources. It’s up to you, the employee, to manage your own career and development. Companies today want workers who can keep up to speed with the rapidly changing technologies and ways of working. The more you advance your own skills, the more valued you will be.
You might actually find yourself somewhere that you can continually make an impact and before you know it, years fly by. When you are engaged and challenged, and can contribute, each year can present new opportunities to evolve within the organization. I had the pleasure of a 10-year career at two different global organizations and there is a lot to be said for building relationships over time and seeing the results of your efforts. Yes, climbing the corporate ladder and increasing your salary can be very professionally rewarding—even if it means job hopping to get there. At the same time, evolving within an organization makes you more and more valued right where you are.
Whatever your career goals and milestones, be sure to reward yourself along the way. Buy yourself that watch. Take that trip. And be a bit cautious about being too nomadic. Remember, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there!
* May 16, 2019, Gary Burnison, CEO, Korn Ferry, “Career Nomads,” www.kornferry.com/institute.