How to Stay Relevant as a Long-tenured Employee

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Job hoppers are red flags to many recruiters and hiring managers, but they are not the only candidates to give these gatekeepers pause. Long-tenured employees are often shuffled to the bottom of the resume pile because they are, perhaps unfairly, perceived as inflexible, stuck-in-a-rut, unmotivated, or even unlikely to thrive in a new setting. To avoid looking like a laggard, keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Change Roles Every 18-24 Months: Internal movements, be they lateral or upward, register in the minds of many external recruiters as career progression. Make sure your manager has your back and makes time to discuss, not only your next move, but the next-next as well. A thoughtfully designed internal career storyline can counteract the limitations posed by a single setting.
  2. Chase Certifications: Regardless of your role you should consistently add to your skillset. Take advantage of any development programs your company offers and invest on your own if they don’t. This demonstrates a learning orientation and a willingness to grow on your own terms.
  3. Volunteer for Projects: Demonstrate your flexibility, set yourself apart, and get valuable exposure by stepping up for extra work outside your main area of expertise. This is a great way to comfortable expand or even change people’s perceptions of you.
  4. Work Outside the Office: While you may not desire a job at a new company, you can get outside exposure by starting a side hustle or lending your expertise to a different organization (assuming there is no conflict of interest). This in particular can combat the notion that you are unable to thrive in a different setting.

There is nothing wrong with being a long-term employee, especially when you’ve experienced a steady stream of success via promotions, skill development, and role-changes. Still, one question should linger in the corner of your career consciousness: how long is too long? The answer is different for everyone one and gatekeeper perceptions have changed over time. That said if you are closer to your ten year anniversary than your fifth, a serious review of external options might serve your well.

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Be sure to check out my latest book The Introvert’s Guide to Job Hunting and follow me on Twitter at @timtoterhi

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