Your career path: stay with one employer or move for broad experience?

By Robert Half on 13 July 2017

IT professionals often share a common concern – is it better to focus on a long term career with one firm or gain diverse experience by moving between different employers?

The overarching issue is that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer. It’s all about following the path you believe is right for your individual circumstances.

That said, there are pros and cons to each strategy.

Stay with one employer

The decision to remain with one employer for the long term can be a viable career path. It can offer an opportunity to progress within the organisation as you develop industry-specific skills and experience, and continually work hard to demonstrate your value to the company.

Over time you may come to be regarded as an individual with good leadership skills and who can be groomed for senior management roles. And for some IT professionals, staying with the same firm can be a very comfortable option from a personal perspective.

The downside of remaining with one firm for your IT career path, is that you may not develop the breadth of skills and business acumen needed to achieve significant professional development. Continually updating your technical skills – and soft skills – is important, and if you decide to remain with one firm, this sort of progression can usually only be achieved through formal staff training and development.

Indeed, the value of ongoing professional development shouldn’t be underestimated. Here’s why.

Unless your professional skills progress at a particular rate, you run the risk of slowed growth in remuneration. This may not always be the case, but it pays to know your current market value and understand what it takes to warrant the remuneration you are looking for. Bear in mind, stale skills make it hard to demand a market-pegged salary.

Keeping your skills sharp can mean taking ownership of the issue rather than simply relying on your employer’s sense of obligation to pay a higher salary. Spend time researching the latest technology and business trends, and invest in the training you need to stay professionally relevant for your IT career path.

Switching employers frequently on your career path

There are pluses and minuses to changing jobs frequently though Robert Half research in Asia indicates employers are becoming wary of ‘job hoppers’.

Some of the IT career benefits available from frequently moving between roles include the potential to accelerate your learning and gain a broader skill-set and wider experience. Moving from firm to firm can see you become more of a well-rounded IT professional, and this can enhance your market value.

If it comes down to a remuneration angle, an IT career path characterised by multiple job switches has the potential to offer remuneration jumps each time you change jobs.

Nonetheless, it pays to tread carefully. As mentioned earlier, business leaders in Asia are looking for IT professionals with a reasonable record of tenure. This reflects the challenges and cost of recruiting new IT professionals.

You could also find yourself susceptible to the ‘last in, first out’ mentality that can accompany a company reshuffle. Sure, this is not always the case, but business leaders value loyalty among their people and a history of job shifting has the potential to hinder your IT career path.

Seeking the advice of a professional recruitment consultant can give you a broader idea of the IT market and what you can do to enhance your IT career path – both now and in the future.

So which path do you choose?

All too often, career-planning discussions only begin when an issue or conflict arises at work. These conversations can be awkward and even tense, as they’re coming from a place of negativity.

Don’t wait for a situation to trigger this type of thinking. Instead, take advantage of times when everything is running smoothly – or better yet, when you are celebrating an accomplishment – to start a strategy process that comes from a positive place. Your future career path could be right around the corner.

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