Could you do the same job for 70 years?

Graham Jones
4 min readJun 4, 2022
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Here in the village where I live, we are in the midst of celebrations for Her Majesty The Queen to mark her Platinum Jubilee. Her Maj became Queen before I was born, and probably that’s true for you too. She has done the same job for more years than I have been alive. I have done more jobs in my working life than I dare share with you…!

Until relatively recently, most people would do four different jobs in their lifetime. Predictions are that students graduating these days will do a dozen or more jobs in their careers. You may recall the days when someone at work was given a carriage clock to celebrate 25 years in their role. When was the last time you noticed that happening? None of us has stuck to the same employment, unlike Her Majesty.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a Royalist or a Republican. The fact is undeniable. This 96-year-old woman is still working in the same job she started more than 70 years ago. That is a remarkable achievement.

With those 70 years, of course, comes significant amounts of experience. When Princess Elizabeth became Queen, Churchill was the Prime Minister. These days she has meetings with Boris Johnson, number 14 on the list of Prime Ministers who have served her. Being the Head of State for the Commonwealth, she has dealt with 170 different Prime Ministers. If anyone knows how to handle these individuals motivated by ego and power, it’s Her Maj. Equally, if you ever need to know exactly how to unveil a plaque, give Liz a call because she has done that more times than anyone on the planet.

We tend to underestimate the value of experience. Many businesses focus on qualifications and personality tests when recruiting people. Indeed, there is evidence of ageism in recruitment, with the younger candidate frequently being preferred over an older individual. Yet, it is possible that the young person has less experience than the older one.

According to a report just published by the consultants McKinsey, “The most important resource in any economy or organization is its human capital — that is, the collective knowledge, attributes, skills, experience, and health of the workforce.” The report adds that businesses can benefit from what it calls “the experience effect”.

If only the air transport industry had read this report during the Coronavirus lockdowns. They got rid of thousands of experienced workers. Many of these have found new roles in other organisations. Now, though, with a surge in air travel, the airlines and airports are in chaos and struggling to recruit staff. The employees they do have are less experienced than those who have departed. The result is that some of the decisions being made are clearly not the best ideas. Indeed, I have heard several interviews on the radio with former airline managers who have said they would have done things differently. The airlines did not make staff redundant as a result of Covid. What they did was jettison experience.

Meanwhile, over at Facebook, the company’s Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg, has announced she is quitting the firm after 14 years. That is a loss of significant experience within the social media business. Facebook only went “live” to the public 16 years ago, so Ms Sandberg has considerable knowledge and experience in the company. The loss is so significant to Facebook that the parent firm, Meta, saw its shares plummet after her announcement, wiping $14bn off the value of the business. The Financial Times reported that “Facebook would not be Facebook without Sheryl”.

The celebrations for Her Majesty over this extended weekend commemorate her 70 years of service and experience. Lizzy may not be your “cup of tea”; she may not even be your head of state. But world leaders look up to her as an example of how to do the job. It is her experience that they value.

So, the question for all of us in business is how much do we value experience. I had this conversation last week with some students. They felt they could not offer consultancy to the world of higher education as they had “no experience”. I pointed out to them that having studied at university for two years using a mix of online and face-to-face studies, they had more experience of hybrid learning than any of their lecturers.

We mistake experience for age. The Queen had more experience of unveiling plaques after a year in her role than you’ve had hot dinners. Experience counts, but you do not have to do 70 years in the job to get it.

This article first appeared in the weekly newsletter from Graham Jones, Internet Psychologist



Graham Jones

Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who helps business understand online customer behaviour