Your Career, Your Choices

How to tackle the ‘long service in one job’ question at interview

You have been working in the same place for the last 15 years, and you just know it’s going to come up in the interview. You can use this to your advantage: all you need is a strategy writes Sabina Trench, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.

There are a few different approaches you can use to deal with the ‘15 years is a long time to be with one employer’ statement. Here are five strategies you can consider:

Break it down: By this I mean, break the period of employment into meaningful segments or job titles. For example, I started as a Junior Sales Assistant, and once I learned the ropes, I advanced to Sales Assistant, and finally secured a coveted promotion as Sales Manager. This shows progression throughout the years, not just one long period doing the same thing.

Highlight training: Maybe you didn’t fly through the ranks, but you did complete several training courses along the way. This shows that you have been keeping up to date with industry trends, or adding to your professional qualifications, for example. Please make sure these are up to date, and not the ECDL course you did in Transition Year or any defunct qualifications that won’t add value for your new employer.

Life stage: You may have spent the last ten years rearing a young family, and this job suited your life stage needs in that regard. But you are now ready to take your career to the next level. The kids are on their way, and now it’s your time to shine. Maybe you had a significant voluntary involvement over the years which took up a lot of your personal time, and didn’t allow you the opportunity to go for promotions where travel or working long hours was a requirement.

Showcase your achievements: This is another option for someone who hasn’t been promoted over the years, but who has excellent track record of performance on the job. It could be anything from your involvement in a long-term project over several years, or supporting the business through the recent difficult economic conditions. Have some good examples of achievements in your back pocket if you are going with this answer.

Professional plan: Maybe staying with this employer has been part of your long-term career strategy. For example the business was small when you started and over the years you were given the opportunity to gain experience and expertise across a wide range of areas. This might not have been possible had you gone to a large multi-national where roles tend to be more defined.

Working with one employer for a long period of time is evidence of a range of qualities that are invaluable in the workplace: commitment, loyalty, dedication, and persistence. In a world of ‘job hoppers’, you might just be the type of employee this company is currently lacking.

And finally, be ready for the ‘how would you cope with working for someone new?’ question. Give your answer with every ounce of energy you can muster. Communicate your excitement at the prospect, and if you wanted to be cheeky, ‘is this a job offer?’ could be your enthusiastic response.

Sli Nua Careers (www.SliNuaCareers.com ) have offices in Galway (Patricia Maloney, 091 528883 ), Mayo (Ballinrobe, Claremorris and Westport ), Limerick, Sligo, Enniscrone and Athlone. Their services include CV preparation, interview training, job-searching strategies, public speaking and presentation skills, and career direction. For more details, visit www.slinuacareers.com/galway

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