As a permanent sector recruitment consultancy, Maxim is always assessing the stability & continuity of candidates that we speak with. Therefore, for those companies wanting to employ on a permanent basis, why is this aspect of your CV so important even if all of your other skills are good enough?
So why is stability so important for permanent employers?
- A risk to the employer
- Signs of not being able to overcome problems at work
- Team player/loyalty doubts
- Long term value added
Let’s discuss some of these in more detail
A risk to the employer
When an employer takes you on, there is always an onboarding process which takes time. Even if you are an experienced professional who doesn’t need “training” as such, there is still a settling in period of embedding in the team and learning the company processes. An employer wants to be confident that after they and your new colleagues put in the effort with you, you won’t then disappear making the whole thing not so worthwhile. The financial cost is also a factor, as the salary costs them money as well as a potential recruitment fee. So, if your track record is a “jumpy” one, it can put employers off from the offset. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t move for a better opportunity, however – we will come to that later I this article.
Signs of not being able to overcome problems at work
Everyone experiences problems at work. Whether it’s workload, certain colleagues that grate on you (not here at Maxim of course!), friction with management, not getting that promotion you’d like, or project frustrations. An essential skill you must have is how to deal with these problems instead of running at the sign of one – this is how you’ll reach the higher echelons of senior management one day. You’re not the only person who experiences problems at work – most people do. The main difference in people is the amount they complain about them. It’s part of working life and unless someone is metaphorically stabbing you in the back for no good reason, you’re earning a salary in the career of your choice, and it may just take a bit more time to get to where you want to be. If you move around quite a lot, it could be a sign that you’re unable to deal with these problems, which could be a concern for a new employer.
Everyone likes a team player. At the end of the day, humans are a social species and interaction is how we survive, and it boils all the way down to team environments at work. Sometimes we have to make sacrifices in order to show our commitment to our team and employer, which in turn shows loyalty. A strong continuity on a CV is a good sign of being a team player.
Long term value added
A company wants you to join them and add value over a long period of time. A good continuity record will persuade them to believe this is a likely outcome if they are to bring you on board.
Hence, what is the optimum duration at each place of employment?
It’s impossible to give a specific answer due to a variety of reasons. The optimum time is very variable depending on the situation you are in.
For instance, if a genuinely better opportunity comes along and it’s clear as day, there is a strong argument for taking it (after careful assessment) even if you’re not far into your current role. However, jumping ship for a similar role/just because you’ve encountered a small problem is usually a bad choice. It looks sketchy on the CV, and think of the problems you may incur in the next job – they may be worse than your old one. We always say that if making a move is clearly explainable on the CV at a future interview (i.e. it was a much better opportunity for your preferences), then it is worth doing.
If you’re progressing well at your current company, it may not be a great idea to move into a similar role with a different company that promises you the same progression or even slightly better. There is a risk that the promise will be empty, and if it’s proven in your current workplace that you are valued and are progressing well, it may be best to take a risk-averse approach and go with the flow in your current role until things tail off.
It’s also the case, that in terms of stability, this can be measured based on the length of a project or completing a dispute that you are involved in from start to finish. For instance, we are currently recruiting senior Programme Leaders for a major Aviation project in Canada, who we expect would take the project from inception through to completion. It is equally attractive to see a Quantity Surveyor / Quantum Consultant or Delay Analyst see a construction dispute through from start to finish, not leaving their employer in the midst of an important time. This, of course, can be done on a freelance basis should you see out the full contract period.
Generally, we say moving around every 2 or 3 years is a slight “put off” for certain employers unless you’re at the very early stages of your career and widening your experience.
Benefits of Freelance work
Of course, some people prefer freelance for personal reasons, and all the power to you if this is you.
Some benefits can be:
- The hourly/day rates can be fantastic
- You get flexibility at home
- You can be your own boss
- Pick and choose your project (however, it isn’t as easy as it sounds, very market dependent)
These being said, there are also far more risks to being freelance. So to counteract the benefits of freelance that are stated above, let’s run through some of the freelance risks against the benefits of a permanent job.
Risks of working on a Freelance basis
- Cut throat
- Can lead to longer hours (looking for jobs more regularly) – stress
- In recessions, you’ll be first to go
- Career progression (you won’t be favoured in a team environment)
Security / Cut throat
You run the risk of not being in work when you need to be if you are a freelancer. You can’t control the market but the market controls your workload. If there is a dip in your region, or even if it’s just bad timing, you could be left scratching around looking for work which might not be how you planned it.
Can lead to longer hours
It can also lead to longer hours. Not necessarily in the working environment, you’ll likely do similar to everyone else in many cases. However, the time spent searching for your next assignment and keeping your toe in the water will add on hours to your day. Applying for jobs takes time and care, and so despite being paid a good hourly/daily rate, you will have to work extra hours for it if you find yourself needing to apply for other jobs throughout your tenures in order to ensure you stay in work.
If the market takes a downturn, you’ll also be the first to do. Work dries up and the easiest people to let go are the freelancers. They are a high cost to a business, and it is no hassle for their contracts to be terminated at no extra cost.
Limited career progression
You may fall shy of easier career progression as a freelance professional if you haven’t yet reached the senior levels you wish to reach. Permanent employees will be favoured for promotions due to team environments, and although you will be gaining experience on projects, you will be less likely to be considered to moves up the ladder than someone who has built strong relationships internally whilst working on a permanent basis.
Benefits of Permanent Work
(Basically, the opposite of the above!)
- Fewer hours (i.e. no job hunting)
- A valued member of a team, a good employer will try to keep you in hard times
- Be pushed up the seniority ladder
To expand on the benefits of being permanent would be to almost repeat many points I have just stated above.
One key factor however that hasn’t been covered above, is how sociable permanent work can be. As a freelance professional, your time spent at a place won’t always be long enough to create meaningful relationships with colleagues, whereas in a permanent role you can be at places long enough to become friends with the people that you work with and create stronger relationships for your future career. This also eludes to you being a more valued member of a team and being favoured for promotions should they become available and you prove yourself to your peers.
It’s also the case that in permanent employment, the company will invest more in your training and qualifications for you which will push you up the career ladder more quickly. It is very rare for a company to invest in such training for a freelance member of staff.
There are various benefits to working on a permanent and freelance basis. I hope this article makes clearer those assumptions that you may have already made about these pros and cons. For Maxim, we are permanent recruitment specialists and so continuity of employment is a key factor that we look for in a CV. If you have moved around quite a lot, it isn’t to say you won’t be suitable for one of our jobs as long as the reasons for the moves are explained clearly, and are understandable from ours and an employer’s perspective, so as to lower the risk of issuing an offer to you for permanent work.
About the Author
Construction Recruitment Director, Hong Kong
I am responsible for the recruitment business in Hong Kong, Asia, and the Middle East. I was a civil engineer and project manager for 15 years before becoming a construction industry recruitment consultant in 2004. I am based in the Hong Kong office and specialise in placing professionals in engineering, project management, planning, HSEQ and risk. www.maximrecruitment.com