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How long should you stay in a job?

It is difficult to know when it is a good time to leave a job and move onto the next. Often there are signs to look out for. We can help you make those big life choices!

How long should you stay in a job?

One of the most difficult parts of looking at a career change is knowing how long to stay in a job and when the right time is to leave. You’re keen to progress your career, but at the same time you don’t want prospective employers to think you’re a job-hopper, right?

As a general rule of thumb, you should stay in a job for a minimum of 2 years before carrying out a new job search. This shows employers you’ll stick around long enough to make an impact, and aren’t likely to hand in your notice within the first 6 months.

But it’s not always so black and white. Read on to find out more about this topic:

  • How long should you stay in a job?
  • How long do people tend to stay in jobs for?
  • Valid reasons to find a new job
  • Questions to ask before handing in your notice
  • How to explain short tenure in an interview

How long should you stay in a job?

Generally speaking, 2 years is a long enough tenure to spend at a job but every role is different. During your tenure, you want to allow enough time to settle into your role, master your responsibilities, learn new skills, and make a positive impact on the company. You may also feel it’s time to move on once you’ve achieved your personal goals like gaining a promotion or taking a sideways move into a new role, and there’s simply nowhere else for you to progress.

How long do people tend to stay in jobs for?

The average tenure for employees is 4.1 years. This tends to be higher for older employees (aged 55 to 64) who have an average tenure of 9.9 years, whereas workers aged 25 to 34 tend to spend 2.8 years at a job before moving on.

Having said that, your tenure is going to be completely unique to you and your circumstances. If your job is no longer fulfilling you and you need a new challenge, or perhaps you’re working in an environment that’s damaging your health, these are valid reasons to leave and you should make every effort to change your situation!

Signs it may be time to find a new job

As mentioned, there are many valid reasons for quitting your job. Here are just a few of them:

  • The work isn’t challenging enough
  • Negative office atmosphere
  • You’re not aligned with company’s values / culture
  • No training provided
  • No career progression opportunities
  • Poor relationship with your manager
  • You’re overworked and underpaid
  • The work is no longer fulfilling

Questions to ask yourself before resigning

Deciding when to leave your job can feel very daunting. You may even be second guessing your decision. Try asking yourself these questions to help the decision-making process:

  • If my company was to alter my role, would I stay?
  • What is my current role lacking?
  • What have I enjoyed about my current role / company?
  • How long have I been feeling like this? Is it temporary?
  • Will my CV look strong enough to land the role I want?

How to explain a short tenure

Sometimes things don’t go as planned and it ends up being necessary to leave your job before you’ve hit that 2 year point. If you’re leaving your job after less than 2 years of being there, expect employers to probe you on this during their interview questions

Acknowledge the elephant in the room

Acknowledge that your tenure was short. The best thing to do is to recognise that you didn’t stay at the company for as long as you would have liked, and explain the reasons why you needed to move on.

Be transparent but positive

Talk honestly about your reasons for leaving your job but don’t dive into any details of ‘he said, she said.’ Keep it as professional as possible and avoid showing any feelings of frustration about your old workplace. 

Talk about the skills / experience you gained

Always finish off your answer by talking about your achievements in the role and the skills you gained, even if you were only there for a short time. 

Dream job pending

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to leaving your job. In general, 2 years is a solid tenure, but what’s right for you may not be right for someone else. If you’re certain you want to leave your job, make your next career move count and take the time to define your dream job before launching your job search.



2 years ago

How on earth can I/we stay in the *Same job for 2 years. When you get a job with SONIC APP, and SURPRISE, SURPRISE it is with an AGENCY!!... Started off well, and now I have not been working for TWO weeks, have a house to keep (thank god I don't have kids) And, to make thing's worse, I am without any Universal Credit for over ONE MONTH NOW... So, just make sure that your not with an AGENCY & the company. This was the 1st time I had been working with an agency for over 15 to 20 years & they have only got worse to work for. £8.91 PH 8am-5pm. Never again for me.

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