Your Job Tenure Is Shorter Than You Think

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last year that the median number of years that wage and salary workers had been with their current employer was 4.4 years compared to 4.1 years when the survey was taken in January, 2008.  They attributed the increase in tenure among those at work due, in part to large job losses among less-senior workers in the most recent recession.

The Bureau also reported that the median tenure for men was 4.6 years, up from 4.2 years in January, 2008 while for women the median tenure was 4.2 years in January, 2010, slightly higher that the 3.9 years reported in January, 2008.

Among the major race or ethnic groups, 20 percent of Hispanics had been with their curent employer for 10 years or more in January, 2010, compared with 30 percent of whites, 26 percent of blacks, and 21 percent of Asians.  The shorter tenure among Hispanic workers can be explained, in part, by their relative youth.  Forty-six percent of Hispanic workers were between the ages of 16 and 34; by comparison, the proportions for whites (35 percent), blacks (38 percent), and Asians (36 percent) were smaller.

Workers in management, professional and related occupations had the highest median tenure of 5.2 years among the major occupational groups.  Within this group, employees in management occupations (6.1 years) and in architecture and engineering occupations (5.7 years) had the longest tenure.  Workers in service occupations, who are generally younger than those employed in management, professional and related occupations, had the lowest median tenure (3.1 years).  Among employee working in service jobs, food service workers had the lowest median tenure at 2.3 years.

Though there continues to be no comparable numbers for Association Executives it is contended by numerous Executive Search Firms, when you discuss these matters with them that the average tenure is about 6 to 7 years for professional and trade association CEOs.

There are certainly exceptions to the rule with icon association leaders being in one role for 30 or 40 years, but the vast majority of professional society and trade association CEOs transition to other organizations in less than 3/4th of a decade.  With such a tenure length in mind it is quite obvious that association executives find it manditory to maintain a cadre of contacts, network profusely and retain an up-to-date resume at all times.

Though the old saying “that it is always easier to find a new job when you have a job” still holds water, it is an unfortunate fact that many executives don’t maintain a valid resume while being employed and only thinks about updating that document when either they start getting “antsy” to move on to a new challenge or see the “handwriting on the wall.”

Currently employed executives are encouraged to:

*  Maintain an updated resume – revisit it every 6 months or so; consider using an external writer to jazz it up.

*  Don’t forget your professional networking contacts –  they deserve more than a Christmas Card – keep in touch.

*  Keep in contact with Executive Search Firms –  let them know that you are available for the right move.

*  Invest in such newsletters as CEO Update – if for no other reason than the articles.

*  Participate in ASAE and your local/state  association groups – you always want to be seen as an active player.

*  Comment on Professonal Blogs – keep your comments and name out there for all to see.

*  Write an article or make a presentation on your unique association abilities.

* Maintain a marketing plan for yourself and your brand – you never know when you will need it.

*  Get involved in a local philanthropic cause – a “well-rounded” executive is always important for marketability.

*  Update your references and your LinkedIn recommendations – another reason to keep in touch.

Though we continue to maintain that getting a new job is a full-time job it is not unachieveable while still being employed.  In today’s economy, those occurrences of a new job falling in your lap unexpectedly are quite rare so it behooves every upwordly mobil executive to not fall into the usual midset that I am perfectly happy where I am and that I need not worry about tomorrow.

When association executive tenures are as tenuous as 6 to 7 years it is certainly necessary for all to think about the future because tomorrow seems to arrive so much quicker these days.  Even those individuals who are prepared for the worst find themselves on the outside looking in.  Preparation will make the inevitable transition so much more tolerable.


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