Credit: synergygbl

You’ve probably received the “don’t switch jobs too quickly” advice from one too many people, and felt guilty applying for a new job only 6 months into your current one. The average worker aged 25 to 34 will stay in the same company for 2.8 years, Pew researchers discovered that more than 1 in 5 millennials in 2016 had been with their employer for at least five years. 

It’s considered a sign of loyalty and commitment to stick with one company for years and then retire, maybe even with a fat pension or a gold watch in return. In today’s job environment, that’s no longer viable for many. The time spent in a company says a lot about a person as a potential employee. If you stay too short a time at several jobs, you’ll be considered a job hopper; too long, and you might be regarded as uninspired or set in your ways.

It Could Cost you to Stay in One Company

Most people change jobs for a higher salary, more benefits, and a better title with more challenging work. Sometimes, you can get the salary, the promotion, and the growth in the same company. However, in this age of little or no appraisals and the “be happy you at least have a job” mentality, advancement isn’t reliable, and we might end up staying in the same position for years in fear of job security. Make sure your company reviews individual performance closely and that your contribution isn’t going unnoticed.

The next thing that’s important to consider is your experience. Usually, someone with an experience of more than 20-25 years will have a hard time job hunting- because the professionals reach their peaks in terms of their salary. That means, if you’re approaching your 40s, the next couple of years can be the best time to go looking for a salary hike.

However, in some cases, changing companies might be the simplest way of boosting your career and getting better compensation for your work. Research even suggests that your salary can increase by 18-20% as an external hire as opposed to moving up in your company, i.e., promotion.

“Changing jobs at least once every four years can make your resume more attractive to employers for several reasons. For one, It says, ‘I’m willing to try new things and not get too comfortable,’” says career and job search coach Joanne Meehl.

After a certain amount of time, the longer you stay in the same organization can raise concerns about your ability to adjust to a new professional environment. You are perceived risk-averse and settled in your comfort zone if you stay in a single organization and work with the same set of people for too long. 

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Expertise is More Valuable than Experience

There’s no stringent time frame that one must spend with a company or leave the company within a particular period of time. Time spent in the last organization is only a part of one’s career, and although it can be significant, factors like past projects and skills will also play a significant role. If the experience is relevant and you’re able to establish an excellent professional network, it is never “too long”.

It can also be advantageous in some cases. Staying in a single company for an extended period makes sense if one has gained seniority and leadership opportunities and have a say in the company. To potential employers, you’ll be considered dependable and loyal – two qualities employers love.

The Alternate Aspect

Instead of counting the organizations, the better question is how long can become too long to be working under the same boss. When organizations change managers, the company culture makes a significant shift with which employees must adapt. Working under different bosses and handling projects and different styles of reporting can show one’s adaptability. If someone has been in the same organization for an extended duration, it’s worth mentioning the ability to enter a new culture and operating efficiently.

Whether you’re considering searching for a new job or not, it is worth it to keep learning, advancing, and searching for ways to grow in your current position.

A handy tip to mark the milestones are keeping in mind the numbers – 8, 18, 48, 72; here’s how

8 months or below is considered a terrible tenure with any organization. The only reason that can justify such a short span is a large corporate decision. A change in upper-level management or large scale lay-offs is understandable, but if layoffs were less than 5%, it indicates a performance-based termination.

18 months with a company is generally an acceptable minimum. An 18-month cycle includes 6-month probation (maximum) and an annual performance review. This shows future employers that the applicant had achieved goals and targets which is why they were retained for so long.

48 months, 4 years, will put you in a position of full credit for your time in the last company. As long as nothing in your professional history implies that your performance was questionable or stagnant, this is a good milestone. 

72 months, 6 years, is the point at which if you’re not moving up in your company, it can start to hurt your career. The first year in a company is usually on-boarding, the next 3 years in the company means you did your job right with angering the least amount of people. After that mark, if senior positions or better projects are not offered, it raises questions on your productivity and efficiency. It can suggest that the person is ambitionless and, although not bad enough to lose a job, thoroughly mediocre.

Job Hopping: Is it Acceptable? 

Staying too short a time at one job also has a fair amount of stigma surrounding it. Job hopping can be a right and healthy decision in some cases. It helps in maintaining one’s passion, building a network much quicker, keeping challenges fresh, and find what one should be doing with their life. With young individuals changing jobs frequently and millennials moving into management and hiring positions, job-hopping is neither as complicated nor as harmful for a career as it once was.

The advisable way to evaluate the time in a company and whether to move on to a new organization is the same for job hoppers and long-time employees: position and explain your professional history in a way that sounds suitable for the company and puts you in the best light. Talk about the projects handled, the new skills acquired, responsibilities and other tasks that you were delegated or supervised. When a company is interested in someone as a potential employee, they will be very interested in the career history of the person.

To evaluate the company you’ve just settled in, give them a year, and if you’re able to, give them two. Try pushing the number until something comes along that makes you stop counting the years. Something that you’re passionate about and for which you’re willing to sacrifice.

It’s more than likely that some people will spend more than half their careers before finding something they are interested in and perform effectively. The trick is not to go out looking for the best company, boss, manager, or employer for oneself; it’s to make the current position look and sound so fantastic that future employers are impressed.