By: Bill Reagan

A 10-year analysis released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in September, 2016, revealed that the median tenure of U.S. workers is just over four years. Millennials (ages 25-34) had the shortest median term at just 2.8 years; professionals 55-64 averaged 10.1 years.

It’s no surprise that the shortest tenures are among younger workers. People at the start of their career are still trying to find their path, so they’re willing to take a job to try it out – and in the current talent crunch, they have more opportunities than ever to quickly find something new. This sets up an interesting catch-22 for younger workers:

  • Many experts point out that changing jobs is an excellent way to gain new skills, contacts, and experience, yet…
  • Frequent job changing can limit a worker’s opportunity to develop deep subject matter expertise and the ability to guide a project to completion.

Think of it from the employer perspective: they want workers to stay more than three years in order to get a return on the time and training they invest in the first few years of employment. This explains the results of another recent study by a leading workplace consulting company that revealed hiring managers and recruiters showed preferences for candidates who have had steady employment and reasonable tenures. These factors can ease the employer’s concern that a candidate will move on within a short space of time.

Staffing firms work with a broad roster of clients, often in multiple industries, and they are continually seeking qualified people to fill open positions at every level for their clients. This means access to a wide array of positions, and because many contingent jobs with staffing firms feature a predefined duration, successfully completing contingent assignments provides advantages from both of the above scenarios:

  • Provides real-world experience and skills
  • Demonstrates ability to commit to and complete projects
  • Builds good references because employers weren’t left in the lurch by early exit
  • Offers opportunities to explore different jobs and industries on future assignment

Employers are always looking for workers who have the skills and experience to benefit their business, and working with a staffing firm is a great way to get both. Commit yourself to the job you’re doing on each assignment, and when it’s completed, determine if you’re on the right path or you want something different. It’s a great way to maintain short-term flexibility while building long-term value.