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How Long Should You Stay at Your Job?

Over a quarter of Millennials think that workers should stay in a role for less than a year before moving on, according to data collected from PayScale's employee survey, and compiled in the report Gen Y on the Job. Only 13 percent of respondents in the same age group thought employees should stay at a job for more than five years. That's a big shift from earlier generations, and sign that job hopping might be gaining in popularity -- at least among workers themselves. Given that companies pay to train and hire workers, however, and hiring managers probably don't want to see a checked employment history, how do you determine the perfect tenure?

Over a quarter of Millennials think that workers should stay in a role for less than a year before moving on, according to data collected from PayScale’s employee survey, and compiled in the report Gen Y on the Job. Only 13 percent of respondents in the same age group thought employees should stay at a job for more than five years. That’s a big shift from earlier generations, and sign that job hopping might be gaining in popularity — at least among workers themselves. Given that companies pay to train and hire workers, however, and hiring managers probably don’t want to see a checked employment history, how do you determine the perfect tenure?

pondering a job change 

(Photo Credit: Death to the Stock Photo)

“If you look at one year as a guideline for staying at a job, that can work for a job (or even two), but if you work at several jobs for only a year you are creating a job hopping work history and your resume isn’t going to impress any hiring manager,” writes Alison Doyle at About.com’s Job Searching site.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

In other words, you can afford a few short stints, but you probably can’t afford a decade’s worth. There’s also the fact that 20 percent of American workers were laid off at some point during the last five years. When you’re thinking strategically about your resume over the long term, you have to account for the fact that there will probably be at least one involuntary gap in your employment, so to speak.

It is also possible to stay too long at a job, and wind up stagnating. While there’s no perfect recipe for balancing between the two extremes, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind, which will help you stay just long enough at a given job:

1. Keep learning.

One reason workers job hop is because they’ve run out of things to learn in their present role, but a new employer isn’t always the answer to this problem. Sometimes, you’d be better off taking a class (especially if your company will pay for it) or asking your manager about working with other teams or on new projects, to stretch yourself.

2. Ask for raises.

Another big reason people jump ship is because they’re liable to make more money by switching jobs. It’s true that you’re probably not going to get as big an increase by staying put, but if you’re smart about how you ask for more money, you can keep your salary moving in the right direction without leaving a job that’s still offering you other benefits.

3. Take the long view.

At the end of the day, the best approach to job hopping is to think of your career as a whole, instead of just looking at the next move. Doing so will keep you from sacrificing your future happiness for more money but an oddball title, or more security but a less interesting job.

Tell Us What You Think

How long do you stay in a job before looking for the next thing? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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18 Comments on "How Long Should You Stay at Your Job?"

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AnnCee
Guest

Just because a company offers professional development and pays for classes doesn’t mean they’ll promote you. Too often if you’re really good at something, that’s what you get to do– forever. I’m a boomer and have job hopped my entire career to earn more, learn more, and have experiences that don’t come sitting in the same chair for 15 years. As I said professional development can be lip service to real advancement and meaningful work.

John
Guest

As a Consultant who does the hiring for Clients I look for consistency and valid reasons for leaving previous positions.
None of my Clients want job hoppers. I recently interviewed a person who when asked why had had moved companies so many times in the past 10 years replied “because I can ” he was not hired.

Brian
Guest
The job that I am at right now I have been here for almost two years this November. This job is my 1st longer job I stay because I got this job through my externship/and I graduated from college. I have always thankful to have my job with my deaf. I got my career dream that I’ve always want to be working for medical billing and here I am 🙂 other companies I work for isn’t who I am anymore. I’ll stick with my current job as long as I can. And my current job is very flexible with schedule… Read more »
gresham
Guest

I am an migrant work in South Africa , due to government policy and sometimes company policies, the only openings available are short term contracts on projects, hence my CV at a glance doesn’t look nice…..I think my best option is be self employed

G. Outwater
Guest
There is no perfect contract-to-direct hire balance because reality is what makes all of our career histories so different and unique. I agree that a haphazard stint of a dozen jobs over the last 10 years may not paint a good picture for everyone. For many professionals, it could be seen as “your normal” if you have worked for the same contracting house. In this case, a dozen jobs are really nothing more than your specific assignments. If you can show a progression of learning, increased responsibilities, and skills, you have nothing to worry about compared to an industry peer… Read more »
Allison
Guest
I have been working at my current employer for 1year. I worked at my previous job for 13years. I was very happy at my previous job, but had to resign as the company moved location and traveling became difficult. I cannot complain about my new job and still do the same as what I was at my previous employment, but now only in an auditing position. I believe that if you do what you love, you will never stagnate. You will find ways to make your job more interesting, approach deadlines, tasks, etc. from a different angle. My views are… Read more »
The Engineer
Guest
Moving from job to job can be advantageous in promotion, pay and responsibility. Make sure you pay attention to brands on your resume if you plan to do this. The better the brand, the easier it is for one to move around. Yes, companies will more likely to hire someone who have worked at Google than someone who had worked at Noogle… (people don’t recognize what Noogle is but they know Google…get the idea?). Ultimately, you will need to find balance in your EQ with IQ + experience + your actions that can add value to the companies you work… Read more »
The Engineer
Guest
Moving from job to job can be advantageous in promotion, pay and responsibility. Make sure you pay attention to brands on your resume if you plan to do this. The better the brand, the easier it is for one to move around. Yes, companies will more likely to hire someone who have worked at Google than someone who had worked at Noogle… (people don’t recognize what Noogle is but they know Google…get the idea?). Ultimately, you will need to find balance in your EQ with IQ + experience + your actions that can add value to the companies you work… Read more »
Doris
Guest

In my 17 years of job history, i stay on 2 jobs for 5 years before i quit. Reason able to stay long are:
1. Great working relationship w superior n team
2. Room for learning to acquire new skills.

Eventually i left becos my rewards n my contribution is highly imbalance. I am glad that i made the choice n now i am promoted to a managerial role n my pay has almost tripled.

Fry the IT Guy
Guest

I don’t have any problem doing difficult or unsavory tasks, or sticking around until the job is done. I did that all day, everyday in the military for years.

I am looking for particular characteristics at this point in my career: opportunity for growth, family friendly, and an opportunity to be compensated based upon my contributions.

Employers will spew this, but my experience has been that few actually provide it.

I guess I need to go into sales.

Ingrid
Guest

sorry for spelling, chemo has affected my fingers , I was typing on behalf of my husband

Ingrid
Guest
if emoloyers could start to realize tgat when intimidation facttirs and fear us used. Productivity gies down. When upper management keeps hiring yet the people who produce the finished oroduct are on a hiring freeze ? Well moral goes down. What company needs 5 Vice Presudents ? Two fir the same poition. You lost a very good employee, we thought you wanted to move forward. You can only do thst if you help row the boat not rock it very sad, it cost us a lot to miove to Ontario and now we start over again.
Emma
Guest

I’ve been with my current employer for 11years, I think I’ve reached my fullest potential so I think it’s time to move on.

Dumisani
Guest
Please let us not be too rigid in applying some of the reasons why we want to hire or leave…all of us have different reasons. So it concerning when I read about people or managers who would not hire just because of frequency of change in jobs. We all bring different value for the time we are employed. The idea is find that value, extract it or deliver it whether it’s done in one year or 15 years. As hiring managers we must be realistic and stop projecting our own personal career motives on individual job seekers. Looking at what… Read more »
lucille
Guest
I have been on my job for 15 years, I am ready to start something more exciting and more of what i want to do, because of my age i was a little afraid but now im not, I need to make more more money, my son is graduating in 2015 from hs, I just feel my time is up, this is a good company and all, but I have not gotten a raise since 2008, I got my BS degree in Bus/Adm. in Human recource, so I am looking for something in that area, I’m learning or growing, I… Read more »
Robin
Guest
Working for a large corporation that has a policy of supporting professional development education & learning( support varies to education professional development (time off to % of ed fees, books or tuition paid for). -they also have more than one office so relocation is always an option It is not how long your are with the company but what opportunities and jobs you take on while working for them . Thus many jobs One employer Looks good on resume’ Like a typist can continue to complete their university and take on internship for more experience . Jobs come up and… Read more »
Tabatha
Guest

The job that I am at right now I have been here for 4 years. I don’t really plan on leaving because I enjoy the work and the people that I work with, but I was always told that when you wake up in the morning and you no longer like what you do, you might want to consider finding another employer. Also if you feel that you have learned all that you can from your employer it might be time to move on as well.

Keith
Guest

If I read your resume and see that you have worked at more than a few jobs that lasted only a year or two, I am not going to hire you period.
I am always looking for people who have a work history that projects a reliable and loyal personality. If my company is going to invest in you we are also investing in our future together as well. A resume that shows no steady work history, shows that you are not worthy of the company investing any resources in you.

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