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How many jobs are too many?

08 Aug 2018

Brendan McCarron

I work placing HR professionals into all types of employment: permanent fulltime/part time, fixed term contracts and temporary assignments. In the HR field statutory and maternity contract covers are commonplace, yet occasionally good HR professionals I represent not even considered based on their career structure and career history. Particularly the amount of jobs they have had within a space of time, or how long they have spent with one employer.

Recently I presented a CV for a very experienced HR Manager to a client for maternity cover contract, this candidate had the right seniority for the job, had worked in the sector before and was available to take on the contract role at short notice. The feedback I received was that they had ‘moved around too much’ which was a concern for bringing them on-board.

It felt contradictory.

I gently reminded the company that the job they were offering was a 10-month maternity cover, fixed term contract which would ultimately end up on someone’s CV and career history as well. I also highlighted that having worked on a contract basis for several years, this candidate was not only able to bring direct industry experience of their sector (amongst others) but also showed versatility in company structure, culture, size, management style and how HR service is delivered – meaning that they would likely come up to speed far quicker than someone coming from 3-4 years with another company.

Happy ending to the story, reconsidered their decision, interviewed the candidate and hired them for the job.

But it made me think about what is perceived as the right experience or an acceptable timeframe to move between jobs.

Does contract work undermine the value you could bring to a new job?

Does moving roles every 12 months make you a ‘flight risk’ for a new employer?

I think the modern working environment encourages this flexibility and versatility. The emergence of gig economy, job sharing, working remotely, flexi hours, international mobility and the wealth of online resources and material ‘to help you upskill in a new areas, show that these notions are out-dated. There is a perceived shift away from the job-for-life era, or at least the fear of changing jobs within a 3-year period.

Should we place greater value in the experience brought by someone working the same job, within the same company for 10 years, or someone who has worked 10 different jobs within 10 different companies?

There are pros and cons for each but no-one should be not considered for a role because of it – perhaps it’s time for employers to reconsider their own prejudices?

 Brendan McCarron, Assistant Manager of Brightwater's HR Division.