Each week, TopResume’s career advice expert, Amanda Augustine, answers user questions like the one below from Quora and the Ask Amanda form. A certified professional career coach (CPCC) and resume writer (CPRW), Amanda has been helping professionals improve their careers for over 10 years. Have a question for Amanda? Submit it here.
Q: How long should I stay at a job?
I just started a new job a couple weeks ago and I already hate it. How long do I have to stay here before quitting? — Tori H.
There’s nothing worse than starting a new job full of anticipation, only to quickly realize the role is NOT what you expected. If you feel as though your interviewers misled you, sadly, you’re not alone.
According to a Glassdoor survey conducted online by Harris Interactive, six in 10 employees say they’ve found aspects of a new job to be different than the expectations set during the interview process. These include everything from employee morale (40 percent) and job responsibilities (39 percent), to hours expected to work (37 percent), compensation (22 percent), and company culture (22 percent).
However, quitting a job is easier said than done, and leaving a job early on has the potential to negatively affect your future employment options. Before you decide to hand in your resignation, here’s what you need to know.
How long do people stay in their jobs?
The median number of years that wage and salary workers had been with their current employer was 4.2 years in January 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While the number varied based on age — for example, the median tenure for workers between the ages of 25 and 34 was 3.2 years — and occupation, it’s clear that the typical employee stuck with their employer for at least three years.
When you’re working in a nightmare job, three years can feel like a lifetime. So how long do you really need to stick it out at a job you hate?
How long should you stay at a job?
In an ideal world, you should stay at each job for a minimum of two years. However, if you quickly come to realize you made the wrong choice when accepting a position, don’t feel obligated to stay at the company until your two-year anniversary.
If your job is putting your mental or physical health at risk, if you truly hate what you’re doing and the job isn’t a necessary step to reaching your dream career, if you’re a complete mismatch with the company culture, or if the company is financially unstable, start looking for a new job immediately.
Will you be labeled as a job hopper?
If you have one short-lived permanent job in your employment history, it’s fairly easy for a hiring manager to overlook this short tenure, provided you can address your reasons for leaving — or being asked to leave — the job. Layoffs happen. Everyone makes a mistake from time to time.
However, if your resume is riddled with brief stints of employment and the jobs were not short-term contract positions, you can expect employers to regard you as a job hopper and question your judgment, career goals, and your ability to perform at work.
How to make the most of a short-lived job
Be prepared to explain what you learned from this work experience and how it’s helped you to identify what you’re looking for in your next employer and role.
Highlight your wish to find an organization that you can truly call home. Then, explain why you believe this particular company and job 0pportunity is the right fit — and why you're the right candidate for the job.
What you should do once you decide to quit
If you decide to quit your job, try to secure a new position first. It’s much easier to get a job when you’re already employed. Focus on finding the right job and work environment rather than getting out of your current situation as quickly as possible. The last thing you want to do is repeat the same mistakes you made during your last job search and end up working for a company and in a position that’s not a good match.
Ready to look for a new job? Kick things off with a free resume review.