How Long Should You Stay at Your Job?
By Catherine Conlan
Monster Contributing Writer
If you change jobs often, how does that look to potential employers? It depends, experts say, but it’s important to show that you’re getting something out of every job you’ve worked at -- or consider leaving it off the resume.
Many experts say it’s ideal to stay at a job at least a year -- especially if it’s your first “real” job. “For someone's first professional job, unless either the job is abusive or asking you to do something illegal, and you want to put it on your resume, you need to stay for a year or until you have found another better job,” says Susan Hay, career coach at launchingu.com and executive recruiter for Haywood Search. “If you find another job that is significantly better, it is OK to leave before a year is up, but be thoughtful about the move because then you want to show an 18-month to two-year stint at a minimum.”
Job hopping is more acceptable in the current business market, especially compared to even 10 years ago, says Evan Hutchinson, principal of Hutchinson Group. As companies recover from the great recession and start hiring again, hiring managers know there are many people willing to take almost any job, he explains. “Hiring managers also know that once these new hires get back on their feet and establish a new work history, they will leave to try and get back into their field or take a better paying job.”
Because of this, job hopping is more acceptable for potential employees in their 20s and 30s, he says. “By the time you get into your 40s and 50s, however, job hopping is still a big red flag to recruiters. Since almost all new jobs require some sort of training and probation period, you should be expected to stay in your new position at least 6 months. Any amount of time less than that is frowned upon by most companies.”
Perception may depend on the industry, as well. For example, in the sales industry, it’s still frowned upon to job-hop,” says Tracey Russell, recruiter at Naviga Business Services. “This is because in sales, high-performing reps stay at companies where they are doing well and earning commission. Sales reps who are not performing have a tendency to change jobs because they aren’t meeting quota.”
“Too much jumping around makes you look like a flake,” says Hugh Taylor of Life Reset Site. He recommends staying at a job long enough to make it a stepping stone to something better, such as a position that pays more or is more satisfying. “How long that will be will depend on you.”
If you end up leaving a job before a year is over, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will look bad on your resume. Just be prepared for questions about it in your next interview, as hiring managers will take notice and wonder what’s up if you hop around frequently.