In the past, it was not unusual for people to spend their entire career with the same company before retiring with the traditional gold watch. Today, this practice is not only considered old-fashioned, it is often viewed as a career flaw. Across many industries, long-term employability has replaced lifelong employment. As a result, employees are often encouraged to move on in order to see their careers to take off. A managing director of an outplacement specialist agency, says past generations valued job security and were proud of spending a lifetime with a single employer.
"Today, it is accepted practice for people to change employers quite frequently," he says.
Instead, he recommends leaving a company while you're still wowing them: "Not only will they want you back, the next organisation will also be keen to get their hands on you."
Richard Brookhouse is enjoying the rewards of this strategy. A radiographer at Westmead Hospital, Brookhouse felt his options were limited after four years in the job.
"The section chiefs had all been there for more than 10 years and had no plans to leave," he says. "It was time to look for another opportunity."
Brookhouse landed a sales position, and nine months later, with new skills under his belt, he accepted the role of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) applications specialist with Medical Applications, a Siemens-Philips joint venture.
"The job offered a 25 per cent pay increase and lots of travel. MRI was a passion of mine, so it was the opportunity of a lifetime."
A year later, Brookhouse was back in sales: "Medical Applications was beginning a push into ultrasound and they gave me the NSW sales specialist job. I helped develop strategies and got some great experience."
After 15 months, the company changed focus and as the ultrasound team began to disband, Brookhouse jumped ship to join the sales team at Diasonics-GE Ultrasound, once again with a better package.
In early 2001, Siemens-Philips split and Siemens was keen to have Brookhouse back on board. As account manager for northern NSW, Brookhouse now deals with the whole range of diagnostic imaging products and his pay has shot up a further 20 per cent.
"If I had stayed with Medical Applications I probably would have ended up here at Siemens anyway, but by leaving I've secured better pay, I've got new ideas, a fresh outlook and I've also honed my sales skills. I think the fact that I've been to other companies in this industry is an advantage. And I've always left on good terms, so doors have been open to go back."
A senior consultant with an executive recruitment company, says the key to successful "job-hopping" is the ability to sell your reasons for doing so. "You do need to manage your career," he says.
"Employers will always want to know your reasons for leaving your last employer. If you've got good reasons, you can establish credibility. He says it's a mistake to consider yourself on the scrap heap if you've been in a job for more than five years.
"Some clients like rock-solid," he says. "Eight to 10 years with one company is considered good general management material."
Temporary work is also looked upon favourably by employers, and allows you to experience a variety of different environments. Most employers recognise that temporary work requires flexibility, the ability to fit into new environments quickly and adapt to new people and management styles with minimum fuss. It also allows you to learn new skills, computer packages, and be exposed to new office procedures. Temporary work can be, in a sense, a 'try before you buy', allowing you to experience a number of different positions and industries before deciding on something permanent.
Contact Discovering People for more information on the temporary or permanent roles we have available for you.
Game Plan Hints
Source: SMH "My Career" 27th April 2002
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