Head of Badenoch & Clark
"You should stay in the same job for at least two years".
It's sage advice. However, whether it’s correct is subjective. It depends on the job and the industry you are in. Yet, I’ve often heard this statement repeated by both candidates and clients.
I’ve grown use to hearing it over the years. But let me be clear – this is not advice I follow. My objective is to find the right candidate for the right client. I'm more interested in the candidate's story and how their career has progress. This gives me a much better sense if a candidate is right for a position.
Nonetheless, I still find this conventional piece of advice fascinating. It reveals a lot about the concerns that many candidates have when they changed jobs. And this appears especially acute for people who are well-paid and respected in the companies they work for.
Fear versus reality when it comes to moving jobs
What’s even more intriguing is when you contrast these fears with Switzerland. The country has a strong candidate-driven job market. Highly skilled professionals are widely respected and sought-after. There is actually a shortage of skilled high-calibre talent here.
Consequently, if you are a candidate, you hold a lot more bargaining power with your current and future employers than you realise. This is a challenge that I work with every day. Quite often candidates I place can be reluctant to accept what most would consider a career-changing offer.
What holds them back is fear. They often worry that if things don’t work out with the company they have joined, they could be left unemployed for a long time. This is especially true for high-paid senior positions.
I’m not going to deny that there is a risk. You always take some risk when you change jobs. However, if you stay put and you allow your career to stagnate, then you place yourself at even greater risk down the line. It may be more difficult to build new skills and acquire new experiences if you stay comfortable in your current position.
The Coronavirus has presented fresh challenges
The Coronavirus pandemic certainly hasn’t helped candidates facing tough career decisions. This has been the most disruptive work-life event we have experienced in modern history. It has completely reframed the way we think about how we work and even how we are remunerated.
From the viewpoint of a candidate, it has suddenly given them a lot more to think about. Firstly, the massive amounts of economic disruption have caused businesses to go bankrupt and unemployment rates to rise. Consequently, the primary concern for most candidates is now job security and safety. Taking a dip into the unknown is probably the last thing they would consider.
The other issue is work-life balance and flexible working. Many of us have found that we can work quite comfortably from home without the need to commute to an office daily. This has reframed the way we think about work. Consequently, flexible working for many candidates has now become an important part of the overall job package.
Where there is disruption there are opportunities
There is no reward without taking risk. Those candidates that are willing to take advantage of the disruption caused by the Coronavirus could benefit considerably. Swiss companies will have fewer candidates to choose from as some will have been driven away from making a career change.
Consequently, there could be more opportunities now than there were prior to the pandemic for some roles. Furthermore, the shortage of skilled candidates in Switzerland’s job market could get even tighter. Therefore, those candidates that remain in the job market will have even more bargaining power than they did before.
It’s not just higher salaries that candidates can ask for. Work-life balance may become equally important, so flexible working arrangements might be on the negotiating table. This may mean that location becomes less important, allowing candidates to craft the lifestyle they’ve always wanted. For instance, you could live in the mountains near a ski piste and make a single commute to the office a week.
The other aspect is that less skilled candidates might be able to secure more senior positions. From a career perspective this could be a golden opportunity to advance, build experience and upskill.
Consequently, the Coronavirus pandemic could actually be positive for our careers. It all depends on our mindset.