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March 19, 2009


Bryan Starbuck

I agree. Great post.

I think when people join a company and have a passion for the work, then that passion ALWAYS lasts 18-months at least. (Unless they are performing poorly or the work environment is poor)

That means that if someone leaves in less than 18-months, it makes someone wonder why.

When reviewing resumes, you can always forgive one of those. Maybe the company's environment was bad.

If it happens two times, then the problem is probably with the candidate. If it happens three time, then there are huge problems.


In these times where we hear layoffs are rampant, where unemployment keeps rising, some of those stints' shortness aren't by the candidate's design. A candidate joins a promising satellite operation and the headquarters closes the division 3 months later. A candidate joins what looks like the industry's rising star, and the competitor executes a merger that executes duplicate workers & managers.

There isn't one and only one explanation for any behavior. A person who stays in a company many years is rendered by some "dependable" Others will say he's "unambitious," like in Silicon Valley where job hopping is an artform.

What today's climate encourages is for candidates to become even more skilled in lying and manipulating the system. It's less and less about job competence. Look at how much more literature exists online on job search than actually doing the work.

Job hunting is no longer about getting to know what an employer wants. It's about gamesmanship. Joanne Ciulla in her books about work's betrayal details how employers started this with their addiction to layoffs as the cure-all to all economic woes, ever since labor has been signaled as a company's biggest cost.

And if someone wants to fast track by switching jobs, so what? If anyone needs to grow up it's the employers -- you're not promising lifelong employment anyway! Gordon Miller advocates in his book to _Quit Your Job Often and Get Big Raises_ As long as you don't leave your employer in a lurch, what's the problem?

It's all business. Since a candidate is nowadays a company of 1, the same way an employer wouldn't think twice about ruining an employee's source of income, there really should be no hard feelings if a candidate decides to go with someone better. Such transitions can be done professionally, although I must say some of the Gen Y don't practice that at all. As a manager who's had to downsize once too many prematurely, I understand.


I see you mentioned "showing career growth" and that's a concept I really have a problem with. I think for a lot of people it means advancing in the ranks. I'm in the "experienced" category of employees with 10 years of working on various projects yet I'm still an individual contributor. I often wonder how that looks to recruiters. I've done well over the years with various raises and "promotions". I have handled manager-like responsibilities in a few occasions and never enjoyed that part of the job. My true value lies in getting stuff done at ground level, and I am really good at that. Furthermore in this economic climate I have had to interview some former leads that were applying to individual contributor positions out of necessity and I noticed that almost all of them had significant problems with their technical skills. My explanation is that after a few years in people management you lose your edge.
So I'm pretty sure I don't want to go into management and see my level of technical expertise drop, yet I'm afraid that this is becoming a liability. Do recruiters expect candidates to have made it to management after a while? Or are there other criteria you factor in when you try to measure "career growth"?

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