Does it matter whether you stay with your company for one year, five years or ten years? If you want to have a successful career, the answer to this question is a resounding, “yes.”
A lot of my clients talk to me about the importance of tenure, which they define as the time committed to any one firm during an individual’s career. It’s a subject gaining such importance that I am frequently urged to avoid executives – regardless of their ability – who have hopped from job to job.
Today, I’ve noticed that individuals are increasingly more concerned with their “next” opportunity than they are their commitment to delivering results in their current role. Whether you have 15 or 30 years of experience, you want your career to look like a thoughtful progression of opportunity and success, not a game of hopscotch.
Think Around the Curve
After 22 years of interviewing senior executives in the investment industry, I am continually surprised at the lack of career planning. People will talk about a happenstance move that defined their career journey. Truth be told, they probably responded to an opportunity that fell into their lap rather than through a proactive plan. I often hear people mention with pride that “a recruiter called me about this opportunity,” as if it justifies yet another move.
What’s astonishing is that serendipity is precisely the opposite of how successful executives run their companies and pursue business objectives. Very few simply respond to circumstance. They set and manage an agenda. Discipline is how they roll.
If you think about your career as a road map, you have to be intentional in your direction. Without purpose, it will be easy to get distracted by inconvenience or challenges. Are we today too easily deterred that we can’t see through to the other side of a less than perfect circumstance? I can tell you with confidence that those who have endured the bad boss, the out-of-favor product or the poor organizational realignment are those that become a firm’s critical players. Those who have the substance to outlast a company’s temporary imperfections evolve into the foundational players that firms will pay handsomely to keep on their teams.
When thinking about whether tenure matters to you, consider the following:
- Tenure demonstrates persistence. Persistence is a key characteristic of successful people. Consider the wisdom of Calvin Coolidge: “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
- Tenure demonstrates goal orientation. You made a career change to achieve something and make an impact on your firm. If you are willing to leave without making a difference, why would another firm be interested in bringing you on board?
- Tenure demonstrates your long-term career perspective. Look at your career with the end in mind, and seriously consider and visualize the kind of success you’d like to achieve.
The simple truth behind a successful career: Be thoughtful early on in your career, develop a plan, initiate your path and commit to it!