That’s a comment I received recently by someone looking at my LinkedIn profile. They were recruiting for an ICT4D practitioner role at a major research institute, and they were not impressed by my many jobs.
Its true that I’ve changed employers every 2-3 years, usually because the organization or my role changed and it was time to move on. I’ve never really left on bad terms, and I am actually good friends with many of my ex-colleagues – this industry is too small not to be!
What’s the right tenure length?
Different fields have different expectations of tenure. In government and academia (where tenure used to literally mean 10 years), moving more than once a decade is rash, while in the technology field, moving companies less than every few years makes you suspect.
International development is somewhere in between. With project work, moving organizations every 2-3 years is normal, yet it’s also good to have longer stretches of 4-5 years just to show you can also survive project transitions. Hence my goal to stay at FHI 360 for at least 5 years. Plus, its a great place to work!
Best are solid explanations
Overall, while it does matter that you can show the right tenure length for your field, its best to have honest, yet flattering reasons why you moved from one role to the next. If you need q diplomatic answer to a job change, you can say, “the expectations of the role shifted, and I wanted new opportunities for growth.”
Whatever you do, don’t lie – that will come back to haunt you – but you don’t have to be brutally honest either. Also, never, ever talk bad about a past employer to a potential new one. They know one day you’ll be an ex-employee too.