Pros and Cons of Sticking With One Job for Years

Should you become the employee with 10 years of experience at one firm -- or the professional who has worked for three different companies during the last 10 years?

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Andrew G. Rosen
After holding three different jobs over the course of five years, job seeker Tom was told by a well-respected NYC-based career counselor that he had a serious problem.

"You need a 'stick' job," she proclaimed.

She urged Tom not to take another job until he found a gig he could see himself staying with for more than three years. At the time, her logic seemed made sense, so Tom set out to find a job he could endure.

But that was years ago, when employees were expected to stay with one job for most or all of their career. Now the rules of the job hunt have changed. Employers often seek out candidates who are on the move, honing their skills and seeking out the best opportunities, even if it means collecting employee handbooks in the process.

Should you become the employee with 10 years of experience at one firm—or the professional who has worked for three different companies during the last 10 years? Let's look at the pros and cons of having a "stick" job as opposed to being a job hopper.

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Pros of a “stick” job:

It shows dependability and stability. Employers want people they can trust; they want personnel who show up regularly, do their work well, and don't make life difficult for their bosses. If an organization is willing to let you stick around for a sustained period of time, you must be doing something right.

The longer you stay at a position, the easier it becomes. You learn the ropes, how to "recycle" your knowledge and organize your projects. That means you might have free time to work on a personal project, go back to school or work toward another goal. It might be a good idea to hold onto a "stick" job if you want to expand your education or make a career transition. When you learn every nook and cranny of a position, it becomes easier to coast on autopilot, so you can continue earning a steady paycheck while working on Plan B.

It’s predictable. Use a job's predictability to your advantage—predictability makes it easier to plan your personal life. When you learn the ebb and flow of your work routine, you can better manage your time out of work. This allows you to keep your roots firmly planted with one organization, while nursing the limbs, branches, leaves and flowers of your personal life.

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Cons of a “stick” job:

It may leave you unmotivated. If your title hasn't changed, your paycheck hasn’t increased and responsibilities haven’t expanded, staying with a company for years may raise a red flag with a future potential employer. Hiring managers want to see professional and personal growth, a person who cares about what they do and looks for opportunities for improvement.

It can lead to complacency. This can sneak up on you like the flu in the summer. One minute you're busting your butt, the next you're settling. Every season, you should reflect on your job and think about how a hiring agent will perceive your tenure. Are you becoming the lifer you promised you’d never be? If the work no longer excites you and the company is not willing to invest in you, it’s time to find an organization that will.

You might lose touch. Every industry changes, including yours. When you stay at a job for too long, your network may stop growing. Unless you continue putting conscious effort into meeting new people, staying with an employer for too long can hinder your ability to branch out. It’s also difficult to keep your skills sharp when you’re dealing with the same group of people for an extended period of time.

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The best job candidates find a balance between the “stick” job and job hopper—and it shows on their resume. While you don’t want to be a nomad or a hired gun, you may not want to be a lifer either. Every hiring manger looks for something different, so play it safe by showing how your experience has afforded you the best of both worlds.

Andrew G. Rosen is the founder and editor of Jobacle.com, a career advice blog. He is also the author of How to Quit Your Job.