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Planning - high turnover rate?

SW MI Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
3,194
Points
26
I've been out of grad school for over three years. I am still at the same job that I got out of school, and plan on staying here for quite a while. However, a few of my friends that graduated with me are on their 3rd, 4th, or 5th job. I know a lot of planners here in MI that have switched jobs every couple years (some shorter, some longer), for whatever reason. I don't think they are always a step up, but at least lateral.

Is it like this everywhere? How often have you switched jobs, and about how long have you stayed? Do employers take this into consideration when interviewing? Does it affect your marketability? Is it bad to stay in a position for too long - for example because it shows complacency, lack of initiative, etc.? Or on the other hand, does it look bad to employers if you have changed jobs every other year or so - because it would appear your unstable and a flight risk?

Just curious....
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Two-and-a-half years.
Seven months.
One year, ten months.
Six years, four months.

I think most employers expect a fair amount of turnover in a person's early career. A fresh graduate will often not have much choice in jobs, and may be expected to look for an improvement (job or location) after a short time. It would concern me to find someone with ten or more years of experience and no more than a year or two at any one location. It would also concern me to find someone who had never left their first employer, especially if they had not had some substantial promotions or pay increases. I think it is beneficial to practice in more than one locality, or even state. Of course, those who leave their country are another matter.
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,549
Points
25
I did a bit of switching. I worked here in Glendale, WI for about a year and a half as an Associate Planning & Zoning Administrator. I left because I felt that I had reached my ceiling in that position. Frankly, I was bored and I thought that the guy above me was going to stay for a long time, so there would be no room for upward advancement. I left and worked for a consulting firm for about 5 months. Then the Planning & Zoning administrator in Glendale took another position elsewhere, so I came back here for more money and more responsibility. I have a hunch that this jumping back and forth may hurt me if I tried to look for a job now, but in a few years I don't think it will matter.

I think that there are a lot of new planners that work at their first job for 1-2 years and move on because the duities associated with entry level planning are easy to "master." Part of it is attitude. Entry level planners have master's degrees and you can't help but feeling under-utilized if you are working on mundane tasks. You see what people above you are doing and think to yourself "I could do that." Plus, the pay as an entry level planner isn't great so there is that push to make more money too.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,995
Points
31
HS
College
Army
College
3 years
2.5 years
1 year - evil life force sucking boss from hell.
Current job going on 1.5 years

My philosophy is to try and stay at least three years at a job if you can. Looks more stable. If the place I am at now grows I might stay for the duration. But, you never know.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,623
Points
34
2.5 years
5.5 years
16 months (a jump to the dark side)
4 years

Early job changes arent a negative in my mind, provided the resume shows advancement (like jtfortin returning to Glendale) and not just lateral moves. Staying in one place does not hurt you IMO.
 

NHPlanner

A shadow of my former self
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,945
Points
40
3 years at my first job, approaching 3 years at my current job. It all depends on where you start, and the ceiling for the position I think.
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,852
Points
39
2 years
8 years
7 years
8 months (same organization as last, different dept)

I'm a little suspicious of anyone who's bounced around too much, and there are a lot of resumes coming thru here with, say 6 or 7 jobs in 5 years.

On the other hand, staying too long in one position, you end up seeing the middle-of-the-roaders (change every couple years, always up) coming in at high-pay, management positions at an early age. Having a "director" title, even if it's in a very small jurisdiction, seems to help getting highly placed in this area; management sees it as better "all-around" experience.
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,918
Points
37
2.5 years,
1.5 years,
1.8 years and counting.

I've jumped around a bit for a couple of reasons - primarily for advancement. I'm making almost 30K more a year now than when I first entered the workforce almost six years ago. My first job was a great entry-level position, but after a few years there I had gone about as far as I could. Of course, looking back now, if I had stayed I could have got my bosses' job when he retired last year. C'est la vie.

I moved back to the Toronto for my second job, working for a suburban municipality. The work sucked, and my boss was pretty crappy - the turnover there was incredible, and when the chance came up to work for the "big city", I couldn't resist. I'm very happy now, and can see myself staying here for the long haul - the pay is good, there is opportunity for advancement, etc., and I love Toronto.

I think the only way I see myself moving on is due to my wife. She's okay with Toronto, but I think she'd rather live somewhere a little "smaller", and a little more French. We both like Ottawa...
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
I think it will depend on the job market and if you can explain the reasons why you moved around.

My employment history:

6 months - contract - tech job
3 years - entry level job with a supervisor from hell, research assistant/planner
4.5 years - mid level job, with the ever popular progressively more responsibility, including 1 year as the acting director.

I have started looking for another mid to high end job and seem to be on the border between the two level.
 

NHPlanner

A shadow of my former self
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,945
Points
40
Tranplanner said:
I think the only way I see myself moving on is due to my wife.
I think most of us are that way. If the right job opens up in Maine, I know I'd move in a heartbeat so that my wife could move closer to family.
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,549
Points
25
I am pretty content here, but I always keep my eyes open, just in case something great comes along. I also look at jobs in places that I wouldn't mind moving too.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
I think the only way I see myself moving on is due to my wife.
I am on the reverse of this statement, one of the reasons I want to move, is to find a wife.
 

jmf

Cyburbian
Messages
594
Points
17
HS
4 year undergrad
2 yrs grad
4 months - retail
6 months - publishing company
8 months - peon in grad. env. engineering department
6 months - contract, reviewed and revised planning documents
3.4 years - contract, then permanent; awesome job, great co-workers; location sucked from a relationship perspective
1 year - contract, the dark side; location better (2 1/2 hr commute daily); pay incredible
1.5 years and counting - contract, probably about a year left, location better (50 min commute daily), pay on the low end of the scale.

I would apply for anything closer to home. The bonus is that most jobs closer to home would pay more than here.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
18,710
Points
69
Now I don't feel so bad.

4 years (NM - planner 1)
3 years (NY - grad school GA/TA)
2 years (CO 1 - planner 2)
2 years (CO 2 - planner 2)
2 years (FL - planning director)
4 months (KS - senior planner / present)
 

Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
Messages
3,217
Points
29
Well, I'm new to the planning field. I have a grab bag of experiences before making the jump to planning. I envy all of you with years of experience!

Here's my CV since undergrad:

1 year - environmental policy program assistant

1 year - research assistant at Yale University

6 months - substitute teacher

1 year - dealer at a casino

2 years - surveillance operator at a casino

...grad school begins...

1.5 years - AmeriCorps member placed at an economic development NGO

1 semester - TA for an urban design grad course

...grad school ends...

2 months - dreaded unemployment

6 months - planner at a planning consulting firm
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,176
Points
51
OK I feel alittle better

Under grad,
4 months Retail & Landscapeing
7 months *and counting

I am looking for a new job because I have feel I have gone as far as I can in my current situation, and there is no place to move up here. (that and the CD Director does not understand planning, great with economic, but horrible with community development)

Did I mention that I would like to be back in the mid west?
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
My first job (Knoxville, TN) I stayed almost exactly two years. Left for mercenary reasons and because I wanted to try California.

Current job I've been at 11 years! Fairfield has had SOME turnover, but overall, our staff is quite mature, with almost everyone except our last two hires here at least eight years.

Some of the factors:

*We have good management

*A RELATIVE lack of interpersonal/office politics

* Very fair pay and benefits (plus, California municipal employees are not on Social Security-and I prefer PERS!

Not a lot of reason to move on-except for the upcoming budgetary doom facing almost all California cities. Another factor is housing costs if you want to stay in California. Many of us "own" our homes, and relocating to central Bay Area cities (even if they were hiring, which given budgetary doom is not likely) would be almost impossible.

Only personal negative for me is I would prefer a more traditional "old urbanism" setting. But, since I can't afford that and don't want an hour commute. . .
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
I'm a jumper...

Right out of college there was a recession, so I worked two intern jobs for 10 months. From there, I went into permanent jobs lasting about 3 1/2 years each. And now I'm on job #4, which I've been in for about a 16 months.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
BKM said:
plus, California municipal employees are not on Social Security-and I prefer PERS!
Is PERS really such a good deal? As a public employee I pay into and may get social security when I retire. But I am also part of the state retirement system, where the city contributes an amount equal to ten percent of my base salary every year into the fund. There is no requirement for an employee match.
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
Michael Stumpf said:
Is PERS really such a good deal?
It is pretty good... depending on the state. California's PERS system is good, Oregon's is very good, and Washington's is okay. It also depends on if the municipality pays for the employee's match. It is common in California, and less common in Washington.
 

NHPlanner

A shadow of my former self
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,945
Points
40
Michael Stumpf said:
But I am also part of the state retirement system, where the city contributes an amount equal to ten percent of my base salary every year into the fund. There is no requirement for an employee match.
EDIT: Nevermind....I read the original post wrong. :)
 
Messages
3,690
Points
27
1 year South Carolina (but including internship there, 2 years)
1 year NY - consulting
2 years current job, I can very easily see myself here for life. NYS retirement, baby!
 

pete-rock

Cyburbian
Messages
1,550
Points
24
Ugh...

Let's see. After grad school:

- City government planner, five years.
- Local university community/university program manager, two years.
- Neighborhood chamber of commerce, six months (ugh.).
- Return to city as a planner, 2 1/2 years.
- Private consulting firm 1, five months (ugh again.).
- Private consulting firm 2, one year (laid off).
- Ten months unemployment.
- Private consulting firm 3, five months.

I've gotten into some bad situations and also had happy feet over the years. I need some stability in my career; I'm finding the work in private consulting more rewarding, but less stable and more demanding.
 

PlannerByDay

Cyburbian
Messages
1,827
Points
24
After under grad..

14 months - assistant to the Senior Planner - municipality

4 years - currently Project Planner at a private firm

While I have been "stable" so for I have seen 3 planners with my company show up and leave. The reason vary from personal to they can't handle the fast paced environment.
 

Bullwinkle

Cyburbian
Messages
176
Points
7
2.5 years in Ohio, working for a county
1 year in NH, working for a regional planning commission
2.5 years in NH, working for a town
3.5 years so far in ID, working for a city
 

SGB

Cyburbian
Messages
3,388
Points
26
Ok. I'll jump in the fray:

NGO land trust: 3 mo summer internship
Assistant planner - municipality: 1 yr 1 mo
Greenway coordinator - NGO land trust: 6 months
Planner - regional (summer internship): 3 mo
Circuit rider planner, regional planning commission: 1 yr, 5mo
Planner - municipality: 3yrs 8mo
Economic Developer - municipality: 2 years
Planner - municipality - 2 years
the dreaded unemployment: 4 mo
Planner - regional: 6mos & counting

oh yeah - grad school was mixed in there, too.
 

prudence

Cyburbian
Messages
688
Points
20
PLanning jobs, huh?!?

2.5 years
1.0 year
4.5 years

I thought the middle one would hurt me, but it hasn't. It just wasn't the right place for me to be.
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
Interesting. I always heard 2 yrs was a good time to stay at the first planning job for marketability purposes, which I am on and have been for about 10 Months, and after reading this post this looks to be about the standard amount of time (more or less).

Is there a braking point when marketability goes up or down? I would think anything under 1 would raise Q’s, but anything over ?? might appear stagnant*? And I am asking not telling.

*This is to assumes that one wants to move on, and obviously would not apply to planners that only want to be in their current community.
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,549
Points
25
I don't think that stagnation would be looked upon in a bad way. It shows that you are committed. Plus, if you can show professional growth in one place over a long period of time it would be similar to working at two different places.

This coming from someone who has never hired anybody, so I may be wrong.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Huston said:
Is there a braking point when marketability goes up or down? I would think anything under 1 would raise Q’s, but anything over ?? might appear stagnant*? And I am asking not telling.
As to staying under one year, that really depends on whether you have a good reason for leaving. In my case, I can say that the job was a mistake. I got in, found that it was not what had been advertised, was not challenging, would not contribute to the career path I wanted, and was at times asking me to do things I found ethical. All good reasons to leave. I have interviewed people with similar stories and it has not been a concern for me.

As to staying too long, I will look at the person's progression within an organization. Have they been a Planner I for ten years or have they moved up in status and responsibility? Have they simply done one thing, or have they covered many different roles in the organization? Are they earning just a bit more than when they started or have they received good raises, and are they earning roughly what someone with their experience should?
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
Michael Stumpf said:
I got in, found that it was not what had been advertised, was not challenging, would not contribute to the career path I wanted, and was at times asking me to do things I found ethical.
Yeah... I hate when I have to be ethical too. ;)
 

Mastiff

Gunfighter
Messages
7,181
Points
30
6 years in Civil Engineering (while in school)
2.5 as an Associate Planner
3 years as Community Development Director
1+ at curent job...
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
Ultimate Career Aims (OT?) (Confession)

Maybe this is slightly off-topic (If so, mods can move it, please).

But Dan, EG, et al with higher management experience: Am I a failure because I don't WANT to be a Planning Director?

Although I find my profession frustrating at times, my career here has offered enough variety/changing topics that I can't say I have faced stagnation too much. I have been promoted-and hope to rise to maybe the "Senior Planner" position, but I am not even driven by that very much.

I don't think I want to be a Planning Director. Maybe I lack ambition, but budgeting, personnel management, AND POLITICS are of little interest to me at this point. I have no problems being the technical support person, in the background, etc.

I must confess that I like having a more balanced life than many directors.

Just curious as to others' opinions (and goals and objectives). Is this a "failure" attitude?
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,623
Points
34
You are absolutely not a failure for not aspiring to a Directors job! Although I do encourage my employees to think about their carer advancement, as a Planning Director, I would be thrilled to have a highly skilled and tenured employee that I know is content with their position.
 

Mastiff

Gunfighter
Messages
7,181
Points
30
Everyone keeps asking me if I want to be a City Admin...

I see what hell they go through, no thanks.
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,852
Points
39
I only want to be a Chief Planner like my last boss; what a job! And he's going to retire there. Unfortunately, it's in a little teeny town I don't want to go back to.

Anyway, we are not all cut out to be directors (too many chiefs!). I will be happy to stay out of the "at will" sphere and work in the trenches. Who wants to spend all their days in meetings, doing budgets, etc??
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,623
Points
34
Mastiff said:
Everyone keeps asking me if I want to be a City Admin...

I see what hell they go through, no thanks.
Ha me too. I quickly discovered that labor relations, insurance, and finance bore me to tears.
 

SW MI Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
3,194
Points
26
Am I a failure because I don't WANT to be a Planning Director?
BKM, Right now, I feel the same way you do. I'd rather be in the middle of things getting my hands dirty. I'm the only planner in the City and I really like that because I get to be involved with as much stuff as possible.

I don't think I would like doing mainly administrative/supervisory stuff. Plus, something I need to get over - I have a tendancy to do things myself rather than delegate or ask for help. That wouldn't be good. I find myself bogged down now because of that.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
Being the Boss!

Well, its good to see that I am not the only one. Budgets, personnel, and internal/office politics bore me to tears-and I would not be very good at them. In one sense, I am "self-directed," but I work better as part of a team.

I know people who ARE driven to be the boss.

One I know is an excellent planner, but he is an absolutely terrible manager whose subordinates all dislike working for him. He probably should have been a senior planner for a large agency that can use his ability to grasp complex projects and planning issues.
 

MD Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
2,522
Points
38
I've had three jobs in the last seven years:

5.5 years
11 months
6 months

I loved my first job. I had increasing responsibility and great people to work with but I just wasn't ever going to move up due to a numbers game, so I took a job that sounded great but it just wasn't the place for me. My current job (just got off probation yesterday) is a place I see myself staying awhile. I don't think a short stint in one place is a red flag for future employers unless there is a pattern of that on your resume.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,995
Points
31
Re: Ultimate Career Aims (OT?) (Confession)

BKM said:
Maybe this is slightly off-topic (If so, mods can move it, please).

But Dan, EG, et al with higher management experience: Am I a failure because I don't WANT to be a Planning Director?....I don't think I want to be a Planning Director. Maybe I lack ambition, but budgeting, personnel management, AND POLITICS are of little interest to me at this point...I must confess that I like having a more balanced life than many directors.
I think it is a sign of wisdom and maturity to stop the career rat race at a level you enjoy and feel comfortable. More power to Ya BKM. I wish more people didn't feel the presure to advance or take jobs their hearts are not in. You have the opportunity to really develop your depth in the position you love.

I don't feel the burn to advance either now that things are starting to change in my organization. Maybe in the future that will change. But I am happy where I am at and I have a life I enjoy.
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,889
Points
26
Re: Re: Ultimate Career Aims (OT?) (Confession)

6 mo - (the dark side)
1yr 5 mo - public (then got laid off)
3mo - and counting, a place i like!!!

when i was interviewing, i was repeatedly asked...did you really get laid off?

I was like.. ya.. it does happen.. you know economic collapse, illinois city and state budget look like crap.

A few even called my former employeer, after i gave them a copy of my release sheet, and that was the first question they asked.
 

Mud Princess

Cyburbian
Messages
4,898
Points
27
boiker said:
when i was interviewing, i was repeatedly asked...did you really get laid off?

I was like.. ya.. it does happen.. you know economic collapse, illinois city and state budget look like crap.
That happened to a friend of mine, who had always received accolades in her performance reviews. The interviewer asked her, "If you were so important to the organization, how come you were laid off?" How are you supposed to answer such a question? You'd think prospective employers would be a little more sympathetic to the situation.
 
Messages
3,690
Points
27
I'm with BKM, I have absolutely NO aspirations to Planning Director. While all the other planning positions are civil service, the director is a political appointee. In fact, our current director is the first one in maybe 20 years that has actually had any PLANNING experience. I could see maybe, if I've already done my 25 years working my way up through to senior planner and the position came open once I'd gotten all my time in, just maybe. But that's assuming the powers that be want to appoint you. :)
 
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