Tuesday, July 14, 2015

How Many Jobs Are Too Many Jobs?

In this day and age, with a “rent-an-employee” corporate mentality, many candidates have résumés with what some interpret as too many jobs.  In fact, many good candidates often get rejected because a company believes that someone with, say, four jobs in six years, cannot be a long-term hire.

It just isn’t so.

No candidate should be outright rejected for this reason, at least not without a simple phone screening, especially if that candidate has been vetted and screened by a reputable outside recruiter or by a reliable friend or trusted employee.

Many companies, particularly advertising agencies, find it easier to simply lop off an entire account group - creative, media, account managers, planners, etc. - if an account is lost.  That is easier and less time consuming than actually evaluating people and keeping the best as once was done.  Consequently, many really good people find themselves on the short end of the stick - often multiple  times.

Also, there are some good candidates who get on a carrousel of failing companies or companies which run into trouble or companies that lose business or which are constantly in flux and reorganizing.  It happens. There are too many advertising agencies and other marketing companies who hire employees for a specific account or for a specific situation. If the account leaves or the situation is resolved, the candidate is often asked to leave through no fault of their own.  And their candidacy should not be judged based on this.

There is no question that some employees are job-hoppers.  Or they are perpetually a “consultant” which is often a cue that someone has been hired frequently and does not work out.  This can be evident from reading the résumé carefully or it can be easily checked during a routine pre-screening reference.

No question that a 35 year old with twelve or fourteen years of experience who has had eight jobs, has some issue which is indicative of, perhaps, instability.  But on the other hand, someone who worked at a company for eight or ten years and then has had three jobs in five or six years should be looked at more carefully. Perhaps those companies have or had issues, not of the candidate’s fault.  Perhaps their reasons for taking and losing those jobs are very valid and indicate nothing more than bad luck.

Contrary to some thinking, long-term employment at one or two companies is not indicative that they will stay at a new company for a long period.  It just may mean that the timing was right for them and the situations in those jobs aligned making sense that the employee should stay.  It behooves an interviewer to determine why that person remained at previous employment and to assess whether the new company can provide a similar experience. 

Many potential employers tell me that they are looking for long-term new people, but they have not really put into place either the opportunity, or the program to keep those new people motivated to stay.

(There is an opposite issue which I would like to mention.  Someone who has stayed at a company for twenty or thirty years may have stayed too long to be able to adapt to a new environment or culture.  That, too, needs to be carefully evaluated and explored.)

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that an average worker will have about 11 or twelve jobs in a lifetime.  Average tenure is 4.7 years. I am sure that in advertising and marketing the number may be higher and, more often than not, candidates are not responsible for jobs coming to an end.

1 comment:

  1. May I add this to Paul Gumbinner’s excellent and timely article …

    When I started in the advertising agency business in the ‘70s at Ted Bates Worldwide, I thought I might be a “lifer”. That was the mentality back then if you were good enough, and lucky enough, to get into a Top-Ten global agency. But I jumped ship to IPG’s SSC&B:Lintas after a few years because I really needed a lot more money (a wife and two kids) and they were willing to pay it. And after a several amazing years there and at IPG’s Campbell-Ewald, I knew I’d be an Interpublic “lifer”.

    But a funny thing happened in the ‘80s on my way to the forum of riches and a great retirement of luxury living … Heretofore private agencies went public. Everyone started buying everyone; merging and purging along the way; dumping staff like taking out the evening garbage; profit sharing gone; 401K’s replacing pension plans; etc.

    At the same time … Desktop computers replacing typewriters, carbon paper, “white-out” and pencils with erasers; answering machines and voicemail replacing secretaries; creative software programs replacing art director drawing pads, Magic Markers, and hand-rendered layouts. And so on …

    Now we have creative “crowd-sourcing” from consumer social media and armies of displaced agency freelancers; media trading desks and programmatic buying replacing bona fide planners and negotiators; and most importantly, doer’s replacing trained brand marketing thinkers.

    All of which is to say and affirm to Paul’s readers, if you find yourself jumping around from shop to shop, it’s probably not your fault. Agencies have cut to the “bare bone” on payroll human resources, and way more interested in JIT (Just-in-Time) delivery of needed a hoc talents. Even the C-level ranks shuffling every few years at most companies.

    Bottom line being: Forget Madison Avenue and the agency business if you hope for a “career plan”. There’s no such thing ANYWHERE anymore. Just ask your personal financial planner, broker, or trader – if you can find one left on Wall Street. Bill Crandall


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