It's all in how you spin it.
We live in an age when the one-company individual no longer exists. Your father, mother or grandparents may have worked for one company their entire lives. Now it is not uncommon to be employed by three, four and even five or more companies during one’s worklife.
Accelerated by unending layoffs, the number of managers and executives who have changed jobs four or more times is about 33 percent, according to surveys our company conducts among the individuals who go through our program.
Some of these job changes have been made by choice and some have been the result of layoffs. The ever-present threat of mergers and acquisitions also helps explain the large jump in the number of multiple job changes.
An individual with a job history showing several job experiences can be very attractive to an employer. A diverse background says that you have vast experience and shows your value from having worked under different systems and structures.
The key is to communicate what you have accomplished at each company. Specify on your resume and in the interview the goals you met. Discuss how you helped your employers meet their objectives. You want to show that your contributions at each company made a difference, which will enhance your value to your next employer.
It is also important that you show a work record that has you employed by at least one company for a significant period of time – four years or more. Otherwise, the list of positions on your resume may reveal that you have had a difficult time holding down a job or, possibly, getting along with others.
When to Jump
Under what circumstances should you seek a position at another company? Many ambitious individuals constantly look for new opportunities to advance their careers. In light of the increase in mergers, acquisitions and restructurings, employees are frequently faced with evaluating their worth to a company.
If you learn that your company is a candidate for acquiring another firm or is being bought out itself, it is time to seriously and honestly assess your current position, or someone else may do it for you. When a company is merged or acquired, the new management will immediately make changes in the employee ranks. Individuals will be retained who fill positions the new company will need. Those who duplicate responsibilities already being handled by the acquiring company are likely to be discharged.
Another warning flag would be if you know that your company’s business has been down for a period of time. If your company is closing manufacturing plants, shutting distribution centers and, in general, contracting its business, that is a sure sign that management is looking for places to cut – and your job could be next.
Also, pay attention to those individuals who joined the firm at the same position and the same time you did. Are they getting promotions faster than you? Are their responsibilities different or more significant than yours? If the answer is yes, then you should realistically look at what the future holds for you at that company.
There may be times when you do not believe your job is in jeopardy but that you are stagnating. Often companies that are conerned about their bottom lines may not be promoting as fast or giving significant salary increases. The only way you may be able to improve your position and the money you make is by seeking out positions at other companies.
However, be careful about being so quick to leave your current job. In these days of ongoing mergers and downsizings, the company you are considering going to work for may be a merger candidate itself. Before you take another job, investigate as best you can the new firm’s financial situation and whether there are rumors of a buyout.
The bottom line in changing jobs is to take control of your own destiny. Sometimes you cannot avoid getting laid off. It is generally not your fault, and sometimes you may not even see it coming. But there are also instances when you perceive the company is changing in ways which should signal you to take action, whether that means trying to hold on to your current position or looking for another job.
To a future employer, you may be seen as a stronger candidate than individuals who have only worked for one company their entire careers. They have only the experiences acquired at one business whereas you bring knowledge, training and background from different companies and possibly different industries.
When talking with an employer, remember these important points about your job history:
- Relate specific accomplishments for each of your past employers.
- Describe how each experience helped you in your next job.
- Explain how your past experiences will translate well to the position for which you are interviewing.
Present the fact that you have worked for several companies as a positive attribute. Getting a job will be faster and you will create added value for your new employer.