How to Explain Why You Stayed in the Same Job so Long

If you’ve been fielding a bit of push-back from people saying you’ve stayed in one job too long, you’re not alone. Let me start by saying; there’s no such thing as the ‘perfect candidate’. Forget profiles on paper, all humans have imperfections and they’ll show sooner or later. Rough career edges won’t always be deal breakers, as few hiring managers look to employ impersonal know-it-all robots anyway. You’re great just the way you are.

Now that you’re feeling a little loved-up and relaxed with your qualms somewhat quashed, it’s time to get realistic. The thing is, the jobs market is so competitive these days that you might be the perfect fit for a role, but you’ll never even come close to having the opportunity to prove it. Why? Hiring managers and recruiters are inundated with applications for every open role they have, which means they have to go through a ruthless weeding process to arrive at a high-quality shortlist. And yes, there will be casualties.

When you are one of a hundred applicants with similar skill sets, factors like the length of time you’ve spent in your job becomes important. In the same way that serial job-hoppers will have to explain why they move between jobs frequently, those who’ve stayed in one job for many years will also have some explaining to do.

Is the old norm the new negative?

Gone are the days when staying with one company for life was the done thing. Different people will have different ideas as to what’s ‘too long’ in one job. Some say 5+ years is ‘getting up there’ into dangerous territory, whereas some are less lenient and point the finger at those with any longer than 3 years a piece. Nowadays, if you’ve been in the same job or with the same company for a many, many years, longterm commitment and loyalty don’t always immediately spring to mind. Instead, hiring managers can become suspicious of your long tenure:

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