The HR Place

How long should you stay in a job?

Just as we see patterns in relationships, we can see them on our CVs. What’s your average staying power? 

A friend of mine once insisted on staying in a job for a minimum of two years, even though it wasn’t working out. I understand the logic,  but I don’t think it’s necessarily the right move to stay just for the sake of the dates on your CV.

Some of our ideas about the perfect résumé may be out of date because:

1. Career ladders no longer exist in all professions, and so your career is likely to be non-linear, with sideways steps and a range of skills acquired across different industries and specialisms, or even more than one job at a time (“portfolio careers”).

2. Career success is not measured by how long you stay with an employer (although leaving every position after 3 months might make future employers nervous about employing you – unless you’re a contractor of course). As long as you can explain your (good) reasons for changing jobs, you’ll have plenty to talk about at interview.

3. Employees need to shape their own careers by proactively managing them and deciding where they want to be. If you can access the right experience and skills development in one organisation, fantastic. It’s not always possible, and most employers recognise that.

4. Personal lives are less static than they were traditionally, with people being more mobile both nationally and internationally. 

What path has your career taken? Has it been straightforward, or non-linear? Are you where you expected to be, or have you ended up in a different career to the one you expected?