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Management article
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Reference no. R1007Q
Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Published in: "Harvard Business Review", 2010

Abstract

Executives stay with an organization for only 3.3 years, on average. But does switching employers offer a fast-track to the top jobs? Research suggests the answer is no. In fact, that's one of four career fallacies identified in a study examining how managers get ahead. Fallacy 1: Job hoppers prosper. An analysis of the career histories of 1,001 CEOs and 14,000 non-CEOs in top corporations shows that the more years executives stay with the company, the faster they make it to the top. Lesson: Build a r sum that demonstrates a balance between external and internal moves. Fallacy 2: A move should be a move up. Among the executives studied, about 40% of job changes were promotions, 40% were lateral, and 25% were demotions. Lesson: While a downward move will detract from your CV, a lateral move can often lead to a promotion or enhance your CV when the new company conveys brand value. Fallacy 3: Big fish swim in big ponds. When making a move, 64% of executives trade down to smaller, less-recognized firms. They gain better titles or positions, cashing in on the brand value of their former employer. Lesson: Join top companies as early in your career as you can, and transfer to a lesser company only if the job is very attractive. Fallacy 4: Career and industry switchers are penalized. It's not always a bad move to change industries, or even careers, as is often assumed. Firms hire employees from different businesses for many reasons: For example, another industry might simply offer superior human capital. Lesson: Look for industries where your skills represent a genuine asset. Every career is unique; what's important is to look at each move with a critical eye.

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Abstract

Executives stay with an organization for only 3.3 years, on average. But does switching employers offer a fast-track to the top jobs? Research suggests the answer is no. In fact, that's one of four career fallacies identified in a study examining how managers get ahead. Fallacy 1: Job hoppers prosper. An analysis of the career histories of 1,001 CEOs and 14,000 non-CEOs in top corporations shows that the more years executives stay with the company, the faster they make it to the top. Lesson: Build a r sum that demonstrates a balance between external and internal moves. Fallacy 2: A move should be a move up. Among the executives studied, about 40% of job changes were promotions, 40% were lateral, and 25% were demotions. Lesson: While a downward move will detract from your CV, a lateral move can often lead to a promotion or enhance your CV when the new company conveys brand value. Fallacy 3: Big fish swim in big ponds. When making a move, 64% of executives trade down to smaller, less-recognized firms. They gain better titles or positions, cashing in on the brand value of their former employer. Lesson: Join top companies as early in your career as you can, and transfer to a lesser company only if the job is very attractive. Fallacy 4: Career and industry switchers are penalized. It's not always a bad move to change industries, or even careers, as is often assumed. Firms hire employees from different businesses for many reasons: For example, another industry might simply offer superior human capital. Lesson: Look for industries where your skills represent a genuine asset. Every career is unique; what's important is to look at each move with a critical eye.

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