Climb the Ladder

How Long Should You Stay at a Job?

We get it. Some jobs just aren’t what you imagined they’d be. Whether you’re really not feeling the office culture or you see a pattern of requests for you to do things that weren’t exactly in your job description, you could have several reasons for why a job just isn’t working out. But how soon is too soon to leave? Of course, you don’t want to be labeled as another #millennial job-hopper, so how and when do you leave a company so it doesn’t hurt your chances at landing the next job?

First thing’s first.

Should you stick it out?

Let’s talk about your reasons for wanting to leave your current company. If you’re brand new and still getting used to a new role at a company, it’s normal to feel a little out of place and overwhelmed. There’s a learning curve to every job. And while it may feel uncomfortable going from a place where you knew exactly what you were doing and what to expect to a brand new office environment and set of responsibilities, ask yourself if it might be worth sticking it out. 

Also read: 3 Ways To Maintain Your Integrity In Difficult Workplace Situations


Even if things at your new job got off to a rocky start, there may still be hope. Why not try scheduling a meeting with your manager to communicate some of the challenges you’ve been facing in your new job? You never know, you may be able to get things back on track before they become the new normal. Just be sure to give your team and company the benefit of the doubt when discussing your concerns. If you’re worried about getting in trouble or fired,

Lea McLeod of The Muse says, “It’s a big fat hassle for organizations to recruit and hire employees, only to lose them in a few short weeks. That means, as a new hire, you have leverage.”

So before you hand in your resignation letter, do your best to make an effort to make it work whether that means simply sticking it out or communicating with your boss on how to make your work environment slightly more pleasant.

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Why you might want to rethink leaving a new job

Of course, we won’t be the first to tell you there’s a stigma attached to young job seekers and that is job-hopping. But there is truth to it. According to a study done by Robert Half, “Seventy-five percent of employees ages 18 to 34 view job hopping as beneficial” which is an increase of 18% in just 4 years. So it’s easy to understand why a hiring manager may be wary of hiring you if you were only at your last two jobs a total of 20 months. Besides this, if you choose to leave after only spending 6 months to a year in a position, a new hiring manager may assume that you didn’t make the cut after your trial period or annual review, even if you say you left for your own reasons.

However, it’s important to note that according to the same study mentioned above, “when asked the number of role changes in 10 years that constitute a job hopper, professionals said five and CFOs cited six.” So even if you leave your current job after just a few months, that alone probably won’t be enough to hurt your career. Just as long as short time spans at various companies doesn’t begin to look habitual. If the rest of your work experience tells a positive story about you and your work ethic, the important part will simply be learning how to explain why you only worked at your previous company for a short amount of time and what you were able to learn from the experience.

Also read: How to Explain an Employment Gap

So how long should I stay at a job- minimum?

For any job that you had for under a year, you might want to consider leaving it off your resume. If you can, try to make the years you were at a position span as long as possible. For example, saying you were at a job from November 2016 to March 2018 looks a lot better than January 2018 to December 2018 although the difference is only 4 months. According to, staying at a job for 4 years is the point at which any candidate can get “full credit” for staying at a job. Anything less than this, you should do your best to prove that you did well in your annual reviews and were able to make something of a difference at the company.

Of course, the longer you’re able to stay with an employer, the better. However, even if you were able to stay at the same company for 5 or more years, you should still be able to tell a story of upward movement or at least show that you were trusted with more responsibility during your time there. Staying at the same company is great, but if you’re doing the same thing on your last day that you were doing on your first day, that could also be a sign to hiring managers that you’re either unmotivated or, at the very least, not that spectacular.


Always leave a job on good terms

We all have those “the grass is greener on the other side moments.” But what if you get to your new job and discover that the grass is not as green as you imagined? If you’ve spent a few weeks at your new company and you just don’t see it working out, there may be a chance you can ask for your old job back, as long as you left on good terms. Even if your old job isn’t still available, there may be a fit for you in another department. Of course, none of this would be possible at all if you had a Hollywood-worthy storm out moment.

If you do decide to quit and look elsewhere…

If you find yourself making the decision to quit after being at a job for less than a year, again, you may want to leave it off your resume unless you can clearly point to things to accomplished and did for the company while you were there. Alex Twersky of MediaBistro says, “If you haven’t left your job yet and you’re working on a defined project, it can be better to stay and complete it, so you can clearly define your contributions and measurable outcomes.” If there’s not much to point to at the end of your time with the company, you might consider leaving it off your resume to avoid being seen as a job-hopper.

Overall, if you’re extremely unhappy at a position, don’t feel like you need to sacrifice your quality of life just to make your resume look better to future employers. Evaluate your situation and determine if there’s anything you could do to make it better- ie. ask for a raise, ask for more or different responsibilities, or even ask to switch departments. In the end, if you’ve put in a small chunk of time at a company and were able to make a difference during your time there, don’t be nervous to tell a potential employer that you’re ready for the next challenge!


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