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Why I Look for Longevity on Resumes

A note from our Founder and CEO, Tom Gimbel:

Today’s tight labor market coupled with the highest quit rate in nearly two decades, business leaders across the country are concerned with two things: attracting and retaining talent. I wrote several articles for The Wall Street Journal in 2017 that I believe are very relevant today, and for the next several weeks we’ll be sharing a few through TGIM, starting off with 'Why I Look for Longevity on Resumes.’ 

More and more hiring managers no longer view longevity on a résumé as a positive attribute. Some believe it indicates the employee lacks diverse work experience; others that the employee is complacent or is afraid of change. This could very well be the case, but to me (and I may be coming from an old school of thought), stability on a résumé is something that hiring managers should still value. It can demonstrate loyalty, dependability, expertise and commitment.

More specifically, here is how I evaluate longevity in a potential employee, in an attempt to see if it should be embraced, rather than dismissed.

Accomplishment of long-term goals. Longevity is an opportunity to measure if someone was able to set and achieve long-term goals. If an employee has been with a company 5, 10 or 15 years, I look to see where they have taken their career during that time. Have they been promoted, or have they grown in their role and been given more responsibility? Have they earned new degrees or certifications? Have they become involved in industry associations or developed their personal brand?

Developed thought leadership. The longer someone is with a company the better they are able to truly understand the industry, business and the role. They can better develop their thought leadership within the space and share that knowledge. This is something job hoppers, who spend mere months at a company, aren’t likely to provide.

Meaningful relationships. Longevity shows me that someone was able to commit to working with individuals and within groups and has developed meaningful relationships with others, both internally and externally if they were client-facing.

Culture. Someone who spent substantial time with a company may have seen the culture shift and the adjustments that came as a result of that. They are able to bring that perspective to the new organization with deep understanding and relevant examples of how to handle any upcoming changes in culture.

All this is not to say that people with “hoppy”  résumés are not good hires. Many have legitimate reasons for shorter stints with previous employers. It may be that they had to take time off to care for a relative, or the company had bad management so they quit after a short period of time. It happens. But if the candidate has a new job every two to three years, that tells me a couple of things: 1) They leave when there is conflict, and 2) They value short-term money over long-term opportunity.

Most leaders don’t want to spend time and money training and developing someone who is going to take what they learn elsewhere after one year. It doesn’t make sense from a productivity and monetary standpoint. If you overlook longevity, your hire may soon hop away from your organization, too.

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