by Richard James, Head Editor, INALJ Delaware
Grass is Greener?
In the corporate/commercial world, it’s becoming a reasonable expectation that many employees, particularly younger ones, are not going to commit long-term to their new employer. Cultural and economic shifts on both sides of the employer/employee divide have taken us a long way from the type of expectation that a DuPonter would have had up until about 30 years ago, where a good job, adequately recompensed, would bind both parties in a mutual relationship- perhaps for an entire lifetime of employment.
So how do you answer “what do you expect to be doing in five years time” when you are sitting at the interview table? Libraries have not been subject to the same trends in the HR world- at least not at the same rate of change. It still seems normal to work with people who have been in their position or in other positions at the same institution for 10, 20 years or more. But is it reasonable to expect that libraries will continue to see this continue? Even so, is it desirable?
It’s a tricky dynamic during the interview stage- and it’s well known that job-skipping is not an attractive resume trait. But there’s a natural tendency for job seekers, particularly those starting out in the field, to always be looking for a new and better position. Pay scales vary pretty widely between institutions, and the same dynamic that creates long-term employment for some means that some new positions may in fact be a “once in a lifetime” opportunity! As long as your application or overall trajectory isn’t obviously lateral, I don’t think there is any harm in applying for new jobs even if you’ve only been working for a short while.
In these times, unfortunately, there is far less mutuality between employees and employers. But it does work both ways- an employer who is cutting positions and budget probably wouldn’t give you four weeks notice! Maybe it’s not too unreasonable to think that an employer shouldn’t have higher standards for their staff than they would practice for themselves.