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3 Reasons A 5-Year Career Plan is full of $#!+

by on September 22, 2013

Remember way back, when there was an established line of questioning that job applicants were asked?  You know the things to determine if you would stay with the company forever, what your ambition was, how organized you are, etc?

5 year plan

One of the standard questions was of course, where do you see yourself in 5 years.  Way back “then” I always dreaded this question.  Why?  Not because I didn’t know what I wanted to be doing in 5 years. Just the opposite.  For me, that was a very personal question.  I liken it to someone asking me for my age or weight.  So, of course the standard answer was:  “I want to be in your job.”  This was not meant to be threatening of course, but rather the response was supposed to mean that I had ambition and therefore will want more and better things “at the company” and would stay forever.  Therefore, it was safe to invest in me.

Today however, it doesn’t make sense to ask this question and here are 3 reasons why:

1.  Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A)

M&As have resulted in layoffs or reassignments for an increasing number of people.  Even those that survive the cuts begin looking elsewhere. Knowing what things will look like in two or three years would mean you have a crystal ball.  Five years, is well, just impossible.

2.  We Have Created A Monster –  A Culture of Job Hopping

Whether we like it or not, we have created a culture of job hopping.  According to Forbes in 2012, the average worker stayed at his or her job for an average of 4.4 years.  And, Millennials expect to stay in a job less than three years.  As hiring managers, we need to realize that this is reality and plan accordingly.

3.  We Are Creating New Jobs

In 5 years a lot changes.  A lot.  Today people work in roles that were non existent 5 years ago. There are far too many exciting possibilities to limit yourself.  Who can predict what new roles will emerge a year or two down the road? People want to keep their eyes wide open and avoid being pigeon holed.

So, it is not to say that people are non committal.  It is not that at all.  Times have changed and as a result people have changed.  The likelihood that people under the age of 45  will work for one employer for his or her entire career is just not the norm any longer.

Who knows, maybe the trend will be to question people who stay with the same employer for more than 5 years?  Maybe they will be looked upon as lacking ambition and drive and are really satisfied with the status quo?  What do you think?  Will this trend continue, or will things change yet again?

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