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How Long Should I Stay in My Job?

27 April 2018
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​This is a question everyone will ask themselves throughout their career. What is the answer? Well…there really isn’t one clear solution to this problem. It relies on many variables, most notably, how much are you learning and what are the prospects for progression or what the job is doing for you future career.

In the staffing industry we have a rule of thumb with four key numbers; 8,18,48 & 72.

Under 8 months – This can and will raise some question marks in a permanent position. If you are to leave a role in under 8 months you will want to have some objective and verifiable reason as to why you chose to make the move and back it up with rationale. It can suggest that you didn’t pass your first performance review and if done more than once will give the impression of “Job Hopping” which, from the perspective of an employer, holds a stigma.

This being said, If you are in a job where you feel like you are not gaining any new knowledge from the role and it is not adding any value to your future career ambitions it is best to nip it in the bud. If you are confident you can give a nonpartisan & logical reason for leaving the role and it will stand up to scrutiny then it is better to leave as soon as you realise the position isn’t the right fit.

18 Months is the socially acceptable time to move from one job to another on multiple occasions. This confirms that you have passed at least one performance review and have settled into the job. Experts say it takes around 2 years to learn everything about a position so this close enough to comfort employers that you have given the job an honest try.

At this time if there isn’t opportunities for progression in site it can be best to look for career advancement outside of the organisation. Keep in mind the two key factors that contribute to the answer to how long should I stay in my Job? Learning and development.

48 Months which equates to 4 years and is a significant period in modern times will display commitment and that you were of value to the business. This being said, if you aren’t on a progression path or haven’t received an increase in the scale or complexity it can appear as though your career has “stagnated”. Top employers are always seeking professionals who display serious progression in their careers and who are overtly ambitious.

18-48 months is a great place to start looking for the next step in your career. You’ve made a serious commitment to a company and can now add a lot of value to a new business. Over this period the learning curve tends to plateau and progression opportunities can dry up. You’ve positioned yourself well to spring board of your previous role into a position where you can accelerate your career.

A word of caution here. It is imperative when moving role you don’t end up moving into a role that doesn’t offer new learning opportunities. One of the biggest criticisms I hear from people who have been in their roles less than 18 months is that they haven’t found the role stimulating and it isn’t adding any value to the career. It is critical to ensure you understand the full extent of the role before moving to avoid finding yourself in a position where you want to leave in a matter of months.

72 months or 6 years is the period where a move should be seriously considered. If you aren’t progressing through a successful company, attaining new and relevant knowledge and overseeing larger projects it is time to move on. Four years with an on-boarding year and 2-3 in the same role is fine, but after this, question begin to appear over a person’s capabilities and their career ambition.

If you keep getting promoted, however, there’s no upper limit on how long you can stay at a job.

Although it may raise some concerns with potential employer it does show substantial commitment, loyalty and integrity. These virtues are becoming increasingly valued in an economy where professionals move jobs more than ever before.

So the answer to the question “How long should I stay in my job?” – Well there isn’t one. My advice is to follow your gut. At the end of the day there are no strict rules on tenure and if you’re not enjoying the job then you shouldn’t be there. Life is short and careers are shorter so spend it doing something you enjoy and feel fulfilled by. If you want to leave a job then take action and have the confidence to back yourself to future employers. Tell them the truth and what you learned from that process. They will respect it.

Written by Finlay Barry

If you are looking to make your next career move, get in contact with Finlay today!

(01) 685 4414

f.barry@masonalexander.ie