Time Is(n’t) On My Side

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Straight Answers to Real Questions

Question:  I was having lunch with a couple of pals, both of whom are on the market for a new position and the subject of position tenure came up. One of my friends, Andrew, is the CFO of an industrial parts distribution company that’s just been acquired by an American private equity firm. He joined the firm right out of public accounting and he’s been there for about twenty years.

My other friend, Grace, is the VP of Finance of civil engineering firm. In the course of her twenty five year career, she’s worked for six different companies in three different industries and her average tenure is about four years. All other things being equal, how does the market regard someone who’s been at the same place for twenty plus years versus someone who’s moved around quite a bit?

Answer:  There’s no one correct answer to your friends’ question. On one hand, if Andrew has been at the same company in the same industry for twenty odd years, I’m sure he knows that particular business and industry inside out. And of course, he’s demonstrated that he’s a very loyal, stable employee. So if a prospective employer is in that same industry, especially if that company is a direct competitor of Andrew’s current employer, Andrew should have the inside track on that CFO position.

But if a prospective employer is in a different industry, someone with Grace’s resume may be perceived to be the better candidate. Since Grace has worked for six companies in three different industries, she will probably have seen a much greater variety of issues over the course of her career. Andrew’s knowledge may be much deeper but Grace will probably have a greater breadth of knowledge. So if Andrew and Grace are competing for the same job with a company in a different industry than Andrew’s current employer, all other things being equal, Grace will probably get the nod.

If you think you may be in the market for top financial talent in the next few months, call me direct or email me, for a no obligation consultation.

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