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Movers and shakers

Published: Tuesday, 05 December 2006   Category: Graduate Job sector Reports

Graduates no longer expect to stay at one firm for ever. In fact, many don't want to. Julie Ferry talks to three 'job tarts' who believe switching helps their career.

Always on the lookout for their next opportunity: that's the conclusion of a survey of workers published this week. Although 82% say they will be in the same job 12 months from now, 40% have applied for a job or registered with a recruitment agency in the past year, according to the Adecco poll of 1,000 employees.

It's often said the job for life is a thing of the past and it seems some graduates are happy for it to stay that way. In another survey, this time by SkillSoft, 26% of respondents plan to stay in their current job for less than 12 months, with a further 24% saying they will leave their existing employer within one to two years.

In fact, two years seems to be the norm for staying with a company now with many employees not satisfied to motor along in the same position for the same pay. People want to go up the career ladder and fast, which means pushing company loyalty to one side.

Richard Gott, 27, is a self-confessed job tart and is convinced that his policy of moving jobs every two years has helped him build a successful career.
Gott works as a project manager at the National Assessment Agency after stints as marketing officer at the British Dental Association and marketing manager at the Royal College of Optometrists.

"It was a conscious decision to move every two years. It made sense to me that at the beginning of a marketing career, where you don't need to prove loyalty to an employer, that you should learn as many transferable skills as you can and then move on."

Gott graduated from Nottingham Trent University with a degree in business studies in 2001 and admits that during the past five years, he has seen his salary rise massively. He puts this down to being an ambitious person and not getting too comfortable.

"I have never thought that one job is for life - I think that would be very limiting. However, as I get higher up the career ladder things are changing.

"The role I am currently in is at a much more strategic level and positive results are more far-reaching and take longer to achieve. In a role like this one I think it takes more like three to five years to really get there," he advises.

Dan Rhodes, 29, is a project manager of a different kind.
He works in the rail industry on projects such as the high-speed link from the Channel Tunnel to St Pancras. He agrees that changing jobs regularly has helped him to get a higher salary and more responsibility, but also believes that this attitude will be less useful as he moves higher up the ladder.

"I have worked for seven different employers since graduating, which has given me lots of experience of working on various projects. By moving around in one sector I have picked up a broad sense of the whole rail construction industry and that makes me very employable.

"However, now I am at a senior level I feel I've got to commit myself to a project and prove myself in a team capacity," says the engineering graduate from Loughborough.

Rhodes freely admits that money was a large factor in choosing the career route he has taken. Keen to pay off his student debts, he believes that he wouldn't have been able to attract the salary he does now if he had stayed loyal to one company.

"Moving around was a necessity more than anything else as it enabled me to earn a higher wage," he says. "If I had chosen to go through the ranks at one employer I know my pay wouldn't have gone up significantly and that just wasn't an option."

Understandably, money seems to be a preoccupying factor for most recent graduates. The SkillSoft survey found that 23 per cent of employees who wanted to change their job cited not earning enough money as the main reason.

Jenine Jones, 25, is head of sales for publishing firm Food and Drink Guides in Bristol. Since graduating from Swansea in 2002 she has changed jobs on average every 18 months.

She says ambition has driven her to her current position and believes that keeping her options open means she has a broader range of skills than if she had taken a more traditional view of her career.

The geography graduate spent a year traveling after university then went on to take up sales jobs with Ford and Food and Drink Guides.

"I had been a sales executive at Food and Drink for a year but I was getting to the point where I thought it was time for a change. Food and Drink is a relatively small company and I wanted to get experience in a multinational so I moved to a large pharmaceutical company as a territory manager.

"I was promoted to regional sales executive after six months and then Food and Drink asked me to come back as head of sales and a sales director of the company. If I hadn't left I doubt I would be in the position career- and salary-wise that I am now."

Jones says she would recommend moving between companies to any graduate in a sales role. "To get on in sales you need to get as much experience as you can with different products and different clients. Changing jobs every couple of years is a perfect way to do this."

However, isn't there a danger that these career tactics can appear flaky to employers? Not so, says Mike Hill, chief executive of Graduate Prospects.

"If you are moving sideways all of the time then it can be considered negatively by employers. However, if you are moving upwards through the gears every two years then people see you as someone who is going places."

So, for those who aren't eager to hang around, want more responsibility and a pay packet to match, becoming a job tart could be the right move. With a bit of luck and a lot of hard work you may just be a hop, skip and a jump away from the chief executive's chair.

Source: The Guardian

Saturday November 18, 2006

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