Holding on to a job for too long

Holding on to a job for too long

People stay in particular jobs for many reasons. Sometimes its loyalty to their manager or to the company. Perhaps the person had a lot of change happening in their personal lives (marriage; raising a child; studying) that maintaining the same job gave them some stability.

If you go through your CV and the last 5 to 10 years looks like you just pressed the repeat button each year, when you eventually look for a job, it might be hard to convince someone on your value when growth, learning and adaptability are important factors in the hiring process.

Regardless of your reason for keeping the same job for many years, there are still some ways in which you can show that you have achieved growth.

  1. Extra responsibilities: Most companies during a restructure or downturn in the economy place a hold on new recruits and shift the work of other employees on the few that is still being employed. If this was you, then talk about the extra responsibilities that you were able to handle and what you did in order to complete both your job and the job of another person.
  2. Evolution of your role: Perhaps you might have been in the same position for many years, but the role evolved over that period of time. Talk about the different systems, processes or management strategy and style you had to implement. Perhaps you were involved in diverse projects or assignments that added more skills to your experience in the role.
  3. Digital skills: Think deeper about your role. With the advancement of technology and companies adapting its response to technology, you might have acquired more experience with specific IT platforms. Perhaps your skill in using certain digital equipment, software or hardware components has increased and this gives you an edge.
  4. Personal studies: If your role has been quite standard and it is difficult to show how you added value in the role, talk about any personal studies that you might be involved in. Perhaps you completed a short course on your own expense. Maybe you volunteered for community services or company events that gave you access to new networks, people and skills. Perhaps you volunteered to assist team-workers in your department to complete a project and this provided you with additional skills.
  5. Conscious choice: Talk about events as a choice. “I decided it would be more beneficial to stay in this role because…” or “It was a setback at the time and how I dealt with it was…”
  6. Meeting targets: If you managed to achieve results in a depressed environment or economy – talk about this. If you managed to succeed in achieving your project goals with little to no resources – this is a good skill – flout it.
  7. Growth: Regardless of the reason for you staying in your role, you need to show growth of you as an individual and how you added value to the organization. Show how you have kept your skills and knowledge current for the workplace.
  8. Convincing answers: Prepare a well-thought of response to the question: “Why did you stay in the role for so long?” Discuss valid reasons such as your need to see a project to completion, team loyalty, or picking the best time to make a career change in relation to what was happening in your personal life. Show that in spite of what your CV says, that you are in control of your career and that you were not steered by the events that was taking place around you at the time.


Closing thoughts

It can be a tough interview to get through your discussion of why you stayed in your job for so long. Don’t feel like you need to defend yourself. Do not blame the economy – it signals a “blaming mentality” and no one wants to hire someone who is not accountable.

Before you get into the interview, you need to be clear on why you stayed in the one job for so long. Once that story in your head makes sense, you are ready to share it with your interviewer. There is nothing wrong with keeping a job for a long time. It happens, It is part of life. Just be truthful and be sincere as your authenticity has more value than hiding a fact that could