28 Jan The importance of longevity
On Sunday night, the legendary Kay McGrath signed off from the 7News Brisbane desk after 40 years of bringing the news into Queensland homes.
Unfortunately, we’re not all so lucky to stay in one role for so long. The days of spending most of our career with one employer are long gone, which means we all need to be adaptable to changes in our industry.
However, some people take this thinking a bit too far and hop from job to job in short periods, having spent no time expanding their skillset or developing professional relationships.
It’s important to strike a balance between the ability to change paths quickly and growing our professional identities in our current positions. There are a few ways to keep your mentality focussed on your own longevity, remaining prepared for changes while also aspiring to greater things where you already are.
Expanding your skillset
Despite the ever-present uncertainty in most industries these days, many of us become too comfortable with our surroundings.
You may well have been doing just fine for five years or more, but things are simply too unpredictable to rely on things staying the same.
Redundancies aren’t good for anyone, but they affect the least adaptable workers most of all. Unless you’re planning to retire tomorrow, getting laid off with limited skills is going to be detrimental.
That’s why it’s essential to expand our skillset while we’re still fortunate enough to be employed. Take on leadership roles where possible and if you’re unsure how to do something, learn how instead of deferring to someone else.
Training modules like LinkedIn Learning are a great way of teaching ourselves new skills. Online courses are an intuitive method of improving problem-solving and communication.
At Blended, we abide by the 100th cow method – stand apart from the other 99 cows by dancing around in a sombrero. Don’t blend in, make yourself stand out!
The days of being a one-trick pony (or cow) are over. We can’t rely on the same skills we had five years ago to guarantee our longevity.
Getting cold feet?
We should all be prepared to change paths if need be, but that doesn’t mean we should jump ship at the first sign of a potential pay rise.
At Blended, we’re so used to seeing clients who barely stay in a position for months before switching to a similar one in the same industry for a negligible salary increase.
In the short-term, this strategy may earn slightly more money than staying put but it’s totally unsustainable. Within a few years, you’ll have burnt bridges with your previous employers and severely reduced your options for future employment.
Staying put in the long-term will allow for greater networking and professional relationships, a more intimate knowledge of your particular employer’s work and a stronger demonstration you are willing to stay loyal. Building up this kind of rapport is fundamental to form a positive professional identity.
Employers ultimately look for quality, not quantity. Racking up half a dozen positions in a couple of years does not give you the appearance of someone in demand. Rather, it says that regardless of what promises are made in the hiring process, lasting more than a few months in a position is unlikely.
Needless to say, this is not attractive on a resume.
It’s crucial to consider why you might feel a need to change all the time. Is it too boring to consider staying in the same role for a long time? Or are you just not passionate enough about the industry you’re in?
Whatever it is, changing jobs like a game of musical chairs does you no favours in the long run. It doesn’t hurt to take things a bit slower and stick it out while perhaps focussing on promotion instead of escape.
If it’s a change of career you’re after, create a clear path to get to where you want to be when you head off in that new direction. There’s nothing wrong with following our passions but starting from scratch without a strategy is likely to be extremely difficult. This is why setting goals is so important.
If goal-setting reminds you of something a bit lame you learned at school, don’t be put off. Bill Gates and Richard Branson each have their own goal-setting methods that are partly responsible for their enormous success.
Gates’ method is very simple: set a clear objective and work out what key results will help you get there.
The other key part of goal-setting is establishing where you want to be after one, five and ten years, and so on. Blindly switching positions with no rhyme or reason doesn’t fit into this structure because it’s not possible to set long-term goals while constantly starting from square one.
Ambitious, career-driven employees know where they want to be and will consistently work towards their goals. It’s hard to gain and maintain ambition when you don’t know where you’ll be working in six months, let alone six years.
Constantly reassessing and reshaping goals is a key motivator for employees with longevity. Perhaps it’s a promotion, a house, a car or a European holiday, but the most important part is that the goal or goals act as something to work towards.
Increasing our longevity is becoming increasingly important in the current climate. No one should expect to stay in the same position for decades, but switching jobs willy nilly will also do you no favours.
With clear goals in mind and effective strategies to increase your employability within the job you have, you can increase your longevity within your industry and stand out from the crowd.
Sadly, we can’t all be like Kay McGrath but that shouldn’t stop us from aspiring towards long and prosperous careers in our industry.