How long do I need to stay in my job?

VV 12 Jan

With working practices becoming more flexible and the ability to work from anywhere, you might start to get itchy feet in your current position. But how long do you need to stay in one job?

Having a varied career is important for both your personal development and in gaining a mixture of experience and skills to use throughout your working life.

But if your CV shows you’ve hopped from one job to the next, you might find it harder and harder to find a position as companies start to worry about your staying ability.

How long is a piece of string?

Asking how long you should spend in a job is a bit like asking how long is a piece of string. It depends on a number of factors from whether it’s a fixed-term contract to the company’s financial health.

As a rule of thumb, it’s generally understood that people tend to spend around 3 to 5 years in each position. One year is, by many, considered to be the minimum.  But just because most people do, it doesn’t necessarily mean they should.

Some people are only happy if they’re moving jobs every year, while others like to stay at one company all their lives. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. For example, if you’ve been at company for over a decade and your role hasn’t changed, you might find it harder to move jobs as you’ve failed to show any ambition.

Starting off

If you’re at the start of your career you might want to jump around jobs to get a taste of a number of positions and find your calling.

But remember, in your first jobs you’ll be learning more than just how to do your role – you’ll be learning how to work in a company environment.  This can take time, so perhaps sticking with your first role for a couple of years makes sense.

Later on

As your career progresses, things like pay rises and promotions become important. These are often easier to attain if you have been at a company for a while. Companies like to promote internally as it’s more affordable than advertising a new position and they also know what they’re getting.


And if you’re moving between firms you might find your career stalling as you never progress past a certain level or there are people that will always have been at the company longer than you.

But, you can find more advanced roles and better wages at other firms, so just make sure you make the move up instead of replacing jobs like for like.

One reason to leave a company early is if you’re having problems. These could range from a clash of personalities to issues with the way the business is run.

While you don’t want to be seen as a troublemaker by future employers, you should try and make it clear why you left your past role when moving on.

You might also find your career progression halted in one job as the company doesn’t have the hierarchical structure to promote you up to the next level.

Exceptional circumstances

On the other hand, you might have to leave a job after just a year because your dream position has opened elsewhere.  Loyalty is all well and good, but sometimes you have to be loyal to your own dreams and vision.

At the opposite end of the scale, certain industries expect a level of loyalty to one company or area such as law or medicine. Moving too frequently would be frowned upon.


Posted by The Secret Businessman