Have I stayed too long in one job?

I have been in HR for almost 12 years and practically all of this experience
has been in my current organisation. I have never felt the need to move on as
there have always been new challenges. But now we have merged with a sister
company and my role is under threat. I’m applying for jobs, but have been
surprised that I’m not getting interviews. I wonder if my long service is
counting against me. Do you think it’s possible to stay ‘too long’? And how can
I turn this negative into a positive?

Clive Sussams, recruitment consultant,Malpas Flexible Learning

You are right to consider that some recruiters may initially take a negative
view on the length of employment with your company. Changes in the workplace
have resulted in employers seeking people with a broad skills set gained in
various business sectors.

The major issue is to persuade prospective employers that you are a good
candidate who has held several positions with increasing responsibility, albeit
within one organisation. I would suggest you review the format of your CV and
prepare another version which highlights your competencies. This will therefore
be more sales driven and hopefully gain the reader’s interest at the outset.

As an HR professional try to think about the kind of specific experience that
employers are seeking and write your CV accordingly.

Louise White, consultant – EJ Human Resources

You are correct in believing that some employers will hold long service
against you as they feel it shows a lack of drive and some complacency to stay
in the same firm for so long and fear you may be ‘institutionalised’.

In your covering letter explaining the challenges you have experienced in
your role, the different groups of people you have worked with and changes the
company has been through may alleviate the concerns an employer will have about
you being able to cope with a new environment.

Emphasise how your company has been keen to keep you by promoting you and
presenting you with new challenges and your commitment and loyalty to them.

Allison Sheard, consultant, Chiumento

The fact that you have been with the same organisation for 12 years should
not count against you at all. Your letter demonstrates that your career has
progressed and that you have had a series of roles that have offered challenge
and interest, while working for your current employer.

However, it is worth exploring in more detail why it is that you are not
getting interviews. Try to get feedback about your CV, ask colleagues and
people whose opinion you trust in HR what they think about it.

There could be a number of reasons why your CV is not doing you justice.

Are you taking a general approach for all of the jobs that you are applying
for, without modifying your application for each different role? It is
important to consider the detail of each role for which you apply, in order to
tailor a really good application – one that demonstrates your suitability and
relevant skills and achievements.

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