Aug 11, 2015

Stability vs. diversity

Is it better to be faithful to an employer, or to diversify you career?

Author: Oana Bucurica

I come across this debate more and more often, and there never seems to be any consensus here. On the one hand, there is the ‘school of thought’ advocating for changing jobs approximatively every 3 years, in order to not be seen as ‘stuck’ in a single company’s way of doing things. On the other hand, there’s the argument that career advancement is easier in a bigger company if you stick around longer, because there is mutual trust and you don’t need to prove yourself all over again every other year. Let’s look at these contradicting points of view together, and try to determine which applies in which cases.

The pro stability approach

Those who advocate staying in one place argue that too frequent changes will raise questions on one’s CV. If you’re going for a certain job title and wish to channel your efforts in that direction consistently (like becoming a team leader or project manager), the argument here is that having more patience will shorten the time it takes to get there –there’s not a need to waste time on onboarding, on getting to know one another and win trust, which is rumored to at times take as much as half a year overall.

All of this could be true, in some cases. But it could also scare people into staying stuck in potential-crushing jobs. It’s not always the case that an employer has the resources available to provide an adequate career path, and waiting for your boss to change jobs so you can take their place might mean you’re growing faster than the company you’re working for. If, on the other hand, you work for a fast-growing company with a solid employee-training-and-certification policy, stability can prove most beneficial. It’s great to build a lasting relationship with your employer, if the employer is compatible with your career needs.

The pro diversity approach

Every company is unique, as are the people behind its vision, and has its own way of doing things: project management approach, formal procedures, and its client niche and so on. This is mostly true for small and/or narrow niche companies, who deal with a consistent, corner-case type of client base. The argument here is that staying around for too long will make you become stuck in that company’s mentality and way of doing things, making it difficult for you to adapt to other points of view, when the time does come to move on. However, leaving a good job that provides strong opportunities for advancement just for the sake of diversity itself is not only tiresome, but can in some cases become counterproductive. The pro-stability advocates were right about one thing for sure: it does take time to start growing within a company. The company has to know you in order to suggest appropriate opportunities, and you have to know them, in order to adapt to their culture. This can’t happen overnight – though many larger companies have efficient, time-honored onboarding procedures, and this can help significantly shorten the transitional period. Still, many tech companies offer enough diversity to put on your resume for diversity itself to no longer be a solid argument for change. Companies with a comprehensive client base, who constantly have a varied flow of new projects coming in, offer enough career excitement to justify stability.

Stability for the sake of stability itself doesn’t make sense in today’s climate anymore

Europe’s work culture has shifted from stability-oriented to goal-oriented. Though attrition rates have had an overall Europe-wide tendency to increase in the technology field over recent years, I don’t believe stability in itself has dawned. Companies need to reevaluate their retention strategies, and offer valuable employees real incentives to stay, if they are to remain competitive in the recruiting market. Employees must evaluate their own priorities, in order to be aware of what they look for in a long-term employer. As technology diversifies and advances and our lives become more and more fast-paced, human interactions need the invested extra mile if they are to function healthily and fairly for both parties involved. This is also true of company-to-employer interactions: both the employer and the employee need to invest a little more in their growth strategies, to insure rewarding stability for everyone involved.

What’s your experience with stability vs. diversity? Do you have a coherent career strategy, or do you just go where the projects take you? Share your thoughts with me, and be sure to follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+ for insights into our culture.

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