Discussing the reasonable manager last time begs the question about long-term job security. If you work for a tyrant or an organization that doesn’t value your input or ideas, what recourse do you have? Voting with your feet assumes that you can find equivalent work. A series of short tenured positions suggests to the prospective next employer inflexibility on your part, or worse. The “job hopper” resume will always raise red flags, but in the high technology field the rapid pace of technological change and project work has helped taken some of the tarnish off. Employers expect more job movement these days.
The issue for the employer is whether the investment of training and acquiring and employee is worth the money if the individual expects a short stay. Often finding contract employees, even at higher hourly pay rates is often worth the switch. The upside for the employee is a varied, project oriented career developing new skills and experience more quickly. The downside is missing out on finding a long-term career home where one can rise through professional development.
Both job models and employee models are served in an expansive economy. In slower times, however, both models can land a solid, productive engineer on the street. My recommendation is goal setting and career planning, of course. Chart your path and work toward specific defined objectives. But in a fast paced, rapidly changing knowledge society no one can be expected to predict the future.
For managers and employees alike the best time to establish the company’s career path and potential opportunities is during the due diligence period in the interview process. It is vital for candidate and employer to talk about company expectations and opportunities during the interview. The candidate must be able to share his experience and long-term goals. While the interview process is a challenging, intimidating series of conversations, an open exchange of needs, goals and expectations must be conducted. As important as immediate needs and qualifications are to this process, so are the long-term expectations and career track.
Of course, this does not address the larger issue of company health or mergers and acquisitions. Today’s economy spurred by capital investment and stock means higher short-term expectations for the investors. Your best work on challenging and critical projects may all be placed at risk by machinations in the boardroom or executive suite.
I do not have an easy answer for this. As technology changes have shortened employee tenures, investment expectations have shortened the life of today’s corporations.
The best you can do is focus on your personal development. Be all that you can be in terms of improving your skills, certifications, communication capabilities and marketability. Then as the ice thins under the project, division, company or industry you’re in, you can land on your feet if you need to jump on the next passing ice floe. Global warming isn’t simply an environmental reality. It’s a career reality as well.
E-mail me with your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.