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Guest Comment: why six months isn’t enough

Before the current crisis, candidates had it easy and could jump from one firm to another, sometimes after only six to 12 months’ experience with a particular employer and sometimes for only an extra S$500 – S$1k a month.

It became the norm in Singapore that just six months’ experience qualified candidates as experts in their given discipline, open to offers from large global banks. And before the downturn, there always seemed to be a hiring manager in the marketplace that was desperate enough and would take someone with such little experience.

Candidates here have a lot to learn from their counterparts in London and New York, where no financial services firm would even consider someone unless he/she has a minimum of two years’ experience from their last employer. Candidates must understand that developing a career and moving up the corporate ladder is not all about earning that extra buck every six months by moving. Growing with your current employer is a better strategy.

As a candidate you should not be looking for new opportunities so soon after joining an organisation. You need to show commitment and dedication, a willingness to be the expert in your field and movement through the ranks internally.

From my point of view, becoming an expert in a discipline takes the following:

· Six months to learn the culture of your new employer, how your team operates, and the new systems and processes.

· The second six months should be spent consolidating relationships and building on your experience and understanding of your duties.

· The second year is when you really get to know your organisation, how to work the relationships you have built and improve the processes you have learnt. Then, once you have become the “go-to” member of staff within your discipline, I would claim that you might have become a subject-matter expert.

It is at this point (two years-plus) that candidates should take a step back and look at their career and their time spent at an organisation. If they are a career-minded and can see progression and opportunity within their company, they should choose to stay and move up the value chain. If, however, there appears to be limited career progression, no internal transfers and limited exposure within their company, then this is a suitable stage to look at other opportunities.

An employer likes nothing more than dedicated members of staff who want to build and develop a career with the firm: people who get to know the key stakeholders, make a name for themselves within their function or department, or even better, make a name for themselves within the market as a whole.

As a candidate you don’t want to be out there every year looking for that new job. You want the people in the market to come looking for you, but you will only achieve this if you are dedicated and committed to your employer, and a subject-matter expert in your field.

My argument to new and young candidates in financial services is this: if you want to get into a position of responsibility and become one of the hiring managers that you meet so frequently, then you need to stick with an organisation and become part of it.

Kyle Blockley is a director at KS Consulting.

Comments (9)

  1. Dear Kyle,

    I fully agree with your statement on employee’s stability and commitment to one organisation for some good length of period. I myslef have worked for one MNC in New Zealand for over 5 years. Long term stay not only gives credibility and trust on employee’s resume but also gives a level of confidence and sincerity to future prospective employers.

    kind regards,

  2. I agreed. With the current economic downturn, I think 3 yrs of relevant experience would be more appropriate.

  3. Jumping from one job to the next in 6 months is like jumping from one girlfriend to the next in 6 months. But in this day and age where employees with 15 years loyalty get booted out because quarterly results are bad, I question the concept of loyalty. As much as the firm expects loyalty from an employee not to jump for a ten dollar increment, I question the firm’s loyalty towards the employee when 18 hour days and 10 hour weekends are cut short by a locked out computer and bonus earned unpaid. Hmm when I am married 25 years should I look in the market, benchmark my mate with what’s out there, and find a younger cheaper replacement who performs better?

    A contract works because it binds both parties. The same goes for loyalty. If it doesn’t go both ways, its as good as nothing. Employers shouldn’t expect loyalty if they can’t be loyal to their employees.

    I used to be old school, but in this day and age, if an investment banker or trader doesn’t have a recruiter on speed dial, there is something very wrong.

    The author is 30 trained with a nobel prize winner, qualified for 3 gifted programs and is currently a Harvard post grad student because he doesn’t have a job.

    Young and unemployed Reply
  4. I concur with “Young and unemployed yesterday”. I used to think that loyalty was important but after seeing how colleagues who have almost given their lives (>20 yrs) and waking hours (60 – 80 hrs week) to the company, yet unceremoniously dumped onto the streets – it makes one seriously rethink about the concept.

    Personally, I (and 1/3 of my dept) had the experience of being asked to go recently after years of dedicated work. So excuse me if I do not feel inclined to buy into this “loyalty” thing. Seems to me its like a cliched tool to brainwash the others into mindless obedience.

    If its a free market that the captains of the industry are always talking about, then be prepared for the free movement of labour as well. They are simply talking out of the both sides of their mouth if on the one hand, they want staff to be loyal but on the other hand, throw their staff out (while keeping their own perks) when the going gets tough.

    Nonetheless, while it is an employers’ market right now, people will remember how they were treated.

  5. I take the point of “et2” and “young and unemployed” that loyalty ought to be a 2-way street, and that blind loyalty does not pay.

    However, I agree with the article that cronic job-hoppers will not be valued by any organisation. A lot of Gen Y employees these days change job at a ridiculous rate. Their CVs look long not because of their career achievements but because of the long list of employers that they have had in the past few years.

    When I look to hire for a position, I would usually eliminate such candidates at the CV stage and won’t even bother interviewing them.

  6. I am one of those that change jobs at a average of once every 2.5 years. Currently I’ve worked for 15+ years and had 5 employers.

    My perspective is every organisation offers something different, the employee must make the best of learning the good and bad practices that prevails. In everyone of my past jobs I had given my best, clocking averages of 50 hours per week… in the process my learning was also accelerated by the sheer stress of having to learn and deliver.

    Being too long in the same job same organisation breeds stagnation and complacency, the end result is an inability to work in another organisation as the culture differs. In the same vein, by moving around I gained lessons on how the same process/issue is addressed in different organisations and can clearly see the good and bad effects of the implementations (lessons that helped me to learn form others’ mistakes)

    I had never intentionally moved jobs for monetary gains, but rather for new learnings. Howvever I am happy to say on average my salary increased 17% every year for the last 15 years

  7. Precisely what loyalty are we talking about?

    If when the recession hits the contributors to the organization are asked to leave before spongers who by very virtue of their ass-licking capabilities are glued to their chairs?

    When companies/ managers choose their targets on the basis of personal ‘loyalty’ and not loyalty to the company, then both the organization and the loyal workers are bound to suffer.

  8. What about having 5 jobs in 10 years?
    You found out that the industry is a joke/big lie even before crunch started. It makes no difference where you work, so do not talk about loyalty. It is about earning a decent pay for your worth and your efforts, and move around every 2-5 years before you hit certain age…
    If a company rewards loyalty ONLY, that is the last place you want to stay, unless you are the Boss!

  9. Same as Singaporean.
    I’m Gen Y. Jumps often, more than Singaporean.
    CV looks long and awful but had NEVER jump for $ except once.
    Rest of time all for opportunities. Climbing up corporate rank or becoming a hiring manager not attraction nor motivation. Main motivation is to grasp macro overview and explore and absorb across functions.

    Suggest to LTTL – don’t give up all the Gen Y. Ask how much increases or bonuses or years of bonuses or any guarantees they have received before….You’ll filter out those eager learning new experiences absorbing paassionate pour their heart and souls out beavers from the money seekers/suckers.
    (this is what my current manager (40+years of work experience) who sits on all the funny funny cos cos did during the interview…

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