Job longevity

I’m currently running the CTO search for one of our startups. As part of the initial phase of the search, I reviewed the LinkedIn profiles of 16 candidates with the right educational backgrounds and work experience for the role.

However, in addition to these job-specific requirements, I applied one more filter to the candidate profiles. I looked for candidates who have worked for at least two and a half years in at least one specific company. Notice that I wasn’t looking for the candidates to have worked for at least two and a half years in each of their roles. All I was looking for was one example of a company where they showed this longevity.

To my surprise, this longevity filter reduced the 16 candidates to 6. In other words, over 60% of the candidates I reviewed hadn’t stayed at even one company for more than two and a half years.

There are two reasons why you might not stay in a job for a long time. The first is if it’s the wrong job for you, in which case you made a mistake by joining the company. If this happens once or twice, that’s OK. We all make mistakes. But if this becomes a trend, it signals that you’re not correctly assessing the roles that best fit you, the people you’ll be working with, and where you’ll be motivated to perform.

The second reason why you may be switching roles very frequently is because you always think that the grass is greener on the other side. This is also dangerous. Understanding that every job has its ups and downs, and showing the commitment to fight through the down moments you face in a specific role, is necessary for your professional success, as well as the success of the companies you work for. If everyone jumped ship every one to two years, companies wouldn’t be able to execute on their long-term strategies.

For both these reasons, job longevity is a very important attribute to look for when hiring someone. Unfortunately, as my anecdotal research showed, it’s not easy to find these days. This makes those candidates that do show it that much more valuable.