How long does a position last?

By Scot Herrick | Job Search

Jan 23

When people take a position, they don’t think about the exit strategy. A big part of the exit strategy needs to be based on how long you think the position you are currently in will be good for you and how long the company thinks it is worthwhile keeping before big changes occur.

So before developing an exit strategy, you need to figure out how long the position is likely to last.

There are ways to evaluate this, once in the position — and it is all about assigning risk of change.

General criteria

Financial strength of the company

If your company is doing well, there is less risk of management deciding things need changing. If you are Countrywide, change is more likely to happen.

Financial strength of your department

Is your department on budget and meeting growth goals? Less risk. Is your department missing on budget or goals? More likely to have changes take place and a higher risk.

Stated goals affecting positions

If your management team believes in outsourcing, your risk goes up. If a stated goal is to increase opportunities for employees, your risk of change goes up. A new policy of hiring contractors before permanent employees? Your risk of change goes up.

Turnover history

At one company I worked for, I never had the same manager for two consecutive annual review cycles. That’s not bad, but the risk of change goes up.

Job Criteria

Position longevity

If the idea behind the position is new, there is more risk of change because the value of the position hasn’t been proven. If the position has been around for a couple of years, there is more likely to be less risk of change.

Position project orientation

Projects have defined end dates. The date may change, but the project will end. After two major corporate-wide projects I worked on at one company — as a permanent employee — I had to scramble to find another position in the company before each project ended or I would have been laid off. A great reward for all that “above and beyond” work associated with the successful projects, don’t you think?

Two year strategy for the department

You can usually interpret the department direction through the budget and stated goals for the budget year. If your position is live support of a product and the budget talks about increasing self-service for the project, you’re at a bigger risk than the people working on self-service.

This is not a perfect science, of course. But with some practice using your position and tracking a few other positions in your department, you’ll come surprisingly close to figuring out how long a position will last.

  • […] is time to move on to a different job in your company or a different company. Yet, we don’t think through when a position will end and then wonder why we are out in the street looking for jobs when all the smart people got out […]

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  • Scot Herrick says:

    Yes…I should have done that earlier! It’s in queue…

  • Great strategy, Scot and one I wish I came across several years ago!

    And once you know how long it will you last you have to put into practice your own ‘exit strategy’. Will that be a follow up post?


  • Scot Herrick says:

    I had a manager once that said that you have to work with the team you have because you can’t fire everyone. But, sometimes you can.

    Your story here is a cautionary tale — and one that should remind company management why people are so unwilling to engage in the work. There’s not much in the “WIIFM” department. (What’s in it for me)

  • Steve says:


    A person should never underestimate the effect of the “Change Chain Reaction” if a position’s next tier of management has a history of short-timers. It can be much more than just someone new every couple of reviews.

    Many new seniors will insist on cleaning house and installing “their team” with out regard to the performance of the former team.

    I’ve even had it happen between being headhunted and my arrival at the new firm. Nothing like a first interview with a new director who tells you “I didn’t hire you, I don’t want you and I hate people with your qualifications….” or words thereabouts.

    Though his “little people” helped him to help himself to a career change “out the door,” it was surprising how the organization’s intents were distorted in the change.

    Minimally constant regime changes lead to a constant change in performance expectations.

    Keep up the great writing!



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