“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” — Lao Tzu
Sometimes, staying in the same company year after year waiting to get promoted isn’t the best strategy for your career. It may be that your company isn’t growing, or that there is no clear path for promotion in your current role. Or it may be that your company often looks to outside candidates when top-level jobs open up.
For many people, the best way to move forward in their careers is to change companies. However, too much job hopping can be detrimental to your resume. How long is the right amount of time to stay at your job to show that you’re a trustworthy and reliable employee, yet not too long to be wasting your time and missing out on valuable career-advancing opportunities?
There are no hard and fast rules, but there are some good guidelines to help you determine the right answer for your situation. Here are a few things to consider:
Are you still developing your skills?
You need a solid foundation to excel in your career. Every job teaches you something new – or at least it should. Are you still learning valuable skills in your current job? If you are, then you should consider staying on until you have learned all the lessons you can. Developing more skills on the job will only help you to land a better job or promotion when the timing is right.
If you are not longer learning or developing any skills in your current job, it might be time to leave.
What have you accomplished?
When potential employers look at your resume, they want to see what you were able to accomplish in your time with each company. Did you implement a new program that brought results for the company? Did you oversee a big project that funneled in a lot of sales?
If you haven’t yet accomplished anything substantial in your current role, it is probably best to stay in it until you do. The more results you have to show for yourself, the more marketable you will be in your next job, no matter how long you have been in your current role.
What is your pattern?
Leaving your job after six months might be perfectly acceptable. However, leaving every job you’ve ever had after only six months will start to make it very difficult to find another job. Employers don’t want to hire someone who is going to leave them in a few months. If you have a pattern of consistently short stints at jobs, it will be difficult to convince employers to take a chance on you.
The Bottom Line
The answer to how long you should stay at a job will vary from person to person. However, most advisers would agree that anywhere from two to three years is a good time frame. You can find new opportunities quickly without running the risk of looking like a serial job hopper. However, many say that a solid six months is all you really need before you jump ship.
A pattern of behavior and the skill set you have to offer your potential employer will be what makes the difference.
How long do you think you need to stay at a job before you can leave? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!
Heather Green is a Christian mom, freelance writer, pet lover and the resident blogger for OnlineNursingDegrees.org, a free informational website offering tips and advice about online nursing school and online guides.
This is a Guest post. If you would like to submit a guest post to CareerAlley, please follow these guest post guidelines.
Good luck in your search.