Should you move from that company of long standing? Are you waiting patiently for the retirement party and that “gold watch”?
Last weekend I sat down for coffee with a design engineer from an industrial lighting products company. With him were two of his twenty-something-year-old kids, helping Dad gather tools for a career move. They were as interested in advice for their own careers as they were in Dad’s transition. It was a learning experience for all of us.
They had brought notebooks, copies of some of these blogs, highlighted in spots to ask specific questions, sample resumes and cover letters.
We began with the basic question first: Why move?
Now, one would think that this would be an answer that would trip off the tongue rather easily. But it didn’t.
“Well, you say in your blog that staying at one company too long can be a ‘red flag,’” he began. “I’m not really moving forward in my career and not having a lot of fun.”
“And this bothers you because…” I prodded.
“I don’t know. Maybe I just need to see ‘what’s out there’.”
There was no immediate need for him to make a change. Things were stable at the company, no imminent merger, no changing of chief executives, no unfavorable job reviews…just, not the same spark he used to feel creating new designs. Ever have a day (or month or year) like that? Me too.
Staying too long at one company can be a red flag to recruiters, some H.R. people and many engineers. But is long tenure necessarily a bad thing? In my conversation with that design engineer at the coffee shop, his kids were more interested in his move than he was.
The days of the “thirty-year career and gold watch” are gone, many say. But the truth is, that quite often, people can spend an entire career at one or two companies and live happily ever after.