Samantha: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, executive recruiter Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both employers and job seekers in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary organizations hire top talent, while helping animal health and veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that improve their quality of life.
In today’s podcast episode, we’ll be talking about why you should be loyal to yourself first in your career. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.
Stacy: Hello, Samantha. As always, I’m glad to be here.
Samantha: Stacy, loyalty is a rather touchy subject, isn’t it?
Stacy: Yes, it is. It’s also a very subjective subject.
Samantha: What do you mean by that?
Stacy: I mean the concept can change from person to person. For one thing, some people are just more inherently loyal than others. For another, what one person might consider to be loyal another person would not. Today, though, I want to discuss loyalty within the employment marketplace, specifically within the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession.
Samantha: Stacy, when you say that you want to discuss loyalty within the employment marketplace, do you mean how long a professional stays with their employer?
Stacy: Yes, that’s what I mean.
Samantha: Isn’t it true that people are changing jobs more frequently these days?
Stacy: Yes, that’s absolutely true. It’s especially true for the younger generation, Specifically Millennials. There are some Millennials who are changing jobs as frequently as every 18 to 24 months.
Samantha: Wow! Aren’t people who change jobs that often referred to as “job hoppers”? And isn’t that a derogatory name?
Stacy: Yes, they’ve historically been known as “job hoppers,” but the stigma attached to that has worn off in recent years. Not only are people not working their whole careers with the same employer and retiring with a gold watch, but they’re not working their whole careers with two or three different employers. Instead, they’re working for 10 or 15 employers. That’s become the norm.
Now before we go any further, I don’t want people to get the wrong impression from this podcast episode.
Samantha: How’s that?
Stacy: There’s nothing wrong with being a loyal person. I don’t want our listeners to think that’s what I’m saying. I am absolutely NOT saying that. Loyalty is a great characteristic to have. What I want to do today is discuss loyalty against the backdrop of the employment marketplace.
Samantha: Stacy, that certainly makes sense. Thank you for that clarification.
Stacy: We’ve talked about this before, but I’ve been a recruiter for more than 21 years now. When I started in the profession, I would say that more employers valued loyalty than they do today. Now once again, I’m not saying that employers do not value loyalty now. Back then, though, when a person stayed for a long length of time, their employer placed more value on them.
Since that time, though, I’d have to say that the degree to which employers value loyalty has decreased. And I think proof of that can be found in looking at what happened during the Great Recession.
Samantha: What was that, specifically?
Stacy: Well, first employers decided that they weren’t going to hire. Then they decided that they had to cut staff. And when it came to cutting staff, loyalty was not much of a factor in their decision-making process. In some instances, employers laid off employees that were costing them the most money, and the employees who cost the most money are usually those who have been there the longest.
Samantha: So what you’re saying is that a lot of people who had been loyal to their employer for many years were not rewarded for that loyalty during the recession?
Stacy: Yes, that’s what I’m saying. And it could be argued that they were actually penalized for their loyalty. Now of course, the Great Recession was a time of distress in the country, but if you’re not going to be rewarded for your loyalty during times of distress, then one could argue that almost makes your loyalty a moot point.
I think it’s important to point out that at the same time employers were valuing loyalty less, they’ve been valuing other things more. That has contributed to the current state of the employment marketplace.
Samantha: They have? What things are those?
There are two main instances when loyalty becomes a factor for an employer.
First, when an employer has to lay people off. And second, when an employer is looking to hire new employees. We’ve already talked about the first one, what employers did during the Great Recession. There were plenty of people who were laid off who would say that they were let go despite the fact they had been loyal to their employer and given them years of service.
Let’s examine the second instance, when an employer is looking to hire. The question becomes how much is loyalty a factor in that employer’s hiring decision?
Samantha: If I had to guess, I’d say that an employer would want to hire someone who has a track record of being loyal. Would that be correct?
Stacy: Unfortunately, I’d have to say that while that has been the case in the past, it is not as much the case today. In fact, as a recruiter, I’ve been involved in some situations where one of my clients did NOT want to hire a candidate who had that track record of being loyal.
Stacy: Really. I once worked with a candidate who had been with the same employer for 17 years. We’re talking about a solid candidate with plenty of skills and experience. After speaking with some of the hiring managers at my client’s organizations they had concerns about this individual’s tenure with his current company.
First, these hiring managers were concerned that the candidate would have trouble adjusting to the new company culture. After all, when you work for the same organization for 17 years, you get used to the culture. Second, the hiring managers believed that the candidate would have difficulty adjusting to doing things differently than he had done them in the past. As part of that, they were concerned because the candidate had primarily seen things done one way at one employer. He didn’t have the advantage of seeing how other organizations operated. So these hiring managers considered that a strike against the candidate.
Samantha: It sounds like there was more than one strike against the candidate. What did the candidate say when you told him about it? Was he surprised?
Stacy: Oh, yes he was very surprised. That was the last thing he expected to hear about his candidacy. He thought the fact that he had worked for the same organization for 17 years would work in his favor. Not only did it not work in his favor, but it actually worked against him! That was quite a surprise to him, to say the least.
Samantha: Stacy, did you say this was not an isolated incident? Has it happened more than once?
Stacy: I’ve seen it happen multiple times, especially during the recent years. And I want to go back to what I said earlier, about employers valuing other things more than they value loyalty. As you could see from my case study, the hiring managers involved valued other things more than they valued loyalty.
Based upon what I’ve seen, I would say that the things they value in a candidate more than loyalty includes:
Samantha: And people are more likely to have these things if they’ve worked at multiple employers, is that right?
Stacy: That’s right. It’s all about perspective. What you might see as loyalty, the hiring manager of another organization might see as someone allowing their career to become “stale.” You definitely do not want to brand yourself as someone who is stale, especially when you’re pursuing a new employment opportunity.
Yes, loyalty is admirable. But when it comes to the employment marketplace and your career, you should be loyal to yourself first and foremost.
Samantha: Stacy, thanks so much for joining us today and providing all of this great information.
Stacy: You’re very welcome, Samantha, and thank you. Once again, it’s been my pleasure, and I look forward to our next episode of The Animal Health Employment Insider!