Back in the day many of our parents and grandparents got a job with a solid company and worked there until the day they got their gold watch and sailed off into retirement. Those days are, for the most part, over. Most of my friends and associates are closing in on double digits as far as the number of companies they have worked for. I graduated from college 18 years ago and I am currently working for my 7th company (not including a few extras I have done consulting work for). Compared to the previous generations this varied job history may be viewed as a negative thing. I would argue the opposite. I think if done right, switching companies can make you a more valuable employee for the next company you work with.
Throughout my career I have changed jobs to take on greater challenges. My first accounting job I worked under a great guy who was the CFO, after 6 years though, I was ready to take on leading the accounting department of a company on my own, so I had to move on. That move turned out to be a so-so fit for me personally but I gained some great experience and after a couple years I was able to land with a great company in the same area where I was able to even have a small ownership stake. Then life happened and the economy forced me to seek greener pastures outside of the Accounting field with a couple years in economic development. Seemingly off course it ended up being a great experience, starting up a company from scratch and I was able to meet with many CEOs and leaders from all over the region to learn about their companies. It was a great outside perspective on what people were dealing with and it rounded out my skill set a lot and made me a better employee for when I moved on to my current position. My main point here is if I had stayed with my first employer for the last 17 years I don’t feel I would have near the depth of knowledge and experience that I now have because of my career moves.
Great for me right, but what about the employers I worked with? Did they train me and spend money developing me only to have me leave? Is that a raw deal for them? I would disagree with that. I think if you can make a difference in the company that you work for and leave them better off than you found them, then they have benefitted from your association with them. By bringing a well rounded skill set to each company you can provide as much benefit as you receive from them as a result of your experience there.
I think if the employee can bring their experience and value to a company and the company provides a challenging work environment and competitive compensation then both parties benefit which is the ideal scenario. There is a cost to employee turnover that all companies have to manage, so the more things you can do to reduce it the better, but when considering an employee who has multiple stops along their career paths you may want treat that as a positive instead of a negative. From the employee side, make sure when you make a move that it is a positive step that will enhance your marketability, changing jobs every 6 months just to change jobs probably will not help you or the companies you are working for.
Justin Himebaugh leads the accounting department at HRU, (or The Necessary Evil Group as he calls it). A Graduate of the Haworth school of business at Western Michigan University, Justin has specialized in systems implementations and streamlining the accounting function for the companies he has worked with. Besides having a well rounded skill set when it comes to accounting he can still hold his own in the pool if a game of water polo breaks out. You can follow him on Twitter, @necssryevil