Mar 162007

Staying Power

Staying Power

I interview a lot of people.  We are hiring a ton at Return Path, and I am still able to interview all finalists for jobs, and frequently I interview multiple candidates if it’s a senior role.  I probably interviewed 60 people last year and will do at least that many this year.  I used to be surprised when a resume had an average job tenure of 2 years on it — now, the job market is so fluid that I am surprised when I see a resume that only has one or two employers listed.

But even the dynamic of long-term employment, as rare as it is, has changed.  My good friend Christine, who was a pal in college and then worked with me at MovieFone for several years before I left to start Return Path, just announced that she’s finally leaving AOL — after almost 11 years.  Now that’s staying power.  But most likely the reason she was able to stay at MovieFone/AOL for over a decade is that she didn’t have one single job, and she didn’t even work her way up a single management chain in a single department.  She had positions in marketing, business development, finance, operations, planning, strategy.  Most were in the entertainment field, so they did have that common thread, and some evolved from others, but the roles themselves had very different dynamics, skills required, spans of control, and bosses.

That’s the new reality of long-term employment with knowledge workers.  If you want to keep the best people engaged and happy, you have to constantly let them grow, learn, and try new things out or run the risk that some other company will step in with a shiny new job for them to sink their teeth into.  Congratulations, Christine, on such a great run at AOL — it’s certainly my goal here to keep our best people for a decade or more!

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