How Long Should You Stay at a Job Before Quitting? – CEOMichaelHR

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I have had to answer various questions from a lot of employees on this topic one of which asked; “I just began my new job about 3 weeks ago and I already hate the experience. How long do I have to stay at my job before quitting?”

A good number of us have sometimes in our career journey experienced this awkward feeling of starting a new job full of great anticipation, only to quickly realize the role is far from what we expected.

Perhaps you feel as though your recruiters misled you; sadly, you’re not alone.

It can be somewhat difficult to throw down the anchor at a new job — especially when you’re dying to jump ship.

General believe or best practice follows the stay-at-least-a-year rule.

Nationally, the median employee tenure for wage and salary workers in January 2016 was 4.2 years, a slight dip from 4.6 years two years earlier, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Numbers trended higher for older employees: Median tenure was 2.8 years for workers aged 25 to 34 and 10.1 years for those aged 55 to 64.

We however understand that certain unforeseen circumstances can render even the best-laid plans unattained.

In a situation like this, you’ll ask key questions such as:

How long do you have to stay at a new job?

When is it RIGHT to quit after a couple of months spent?

How do you explain this circumstance to your next employer?

A Glassdoor survey conducted online by Harris Interactive, resulted that 6 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 40% employee morale, 39% job responsibilities, to 37% hours expected to work, 22% compensation, and 22% company culture.

Nevertheless, looking to quit a job is easier said than done, and leaving a job quite too early has the potential to negatively affect your future employment options.

Read on to equip yourself with all you need to know before you decide to drop your resignation.

Related post: After College How Long Should You Stay at Your First Job?


How Long Do People Stay In Their Jobs And Reasons For Quitting?


Three years can feel like a lifetime when you’re working in a nightmare job.

So, it is of importance to know how long you need to stick out at a job you do not like.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average number of years that wage and salary workers had been with their current job was 4.2 years in January 2016.

As an executive coach, one of my clients “politely resigned” after just a week on the job, she told me in an email.

I responded; since you’ve been candid about the job possibly not being a good fit, you can elaborate along the lines; given the job a try and a bid to avoid wasting company resources on training.

“The company was OK with her resignation.”

The bottom-line is that you can leave at any time but you’ve got to make the best ending possible for you, your employer, coworkers, and customers taking into consideration your needs and those affected by your potential resignation.

An early or too soon exit is acceptable in the case of a major corporate scandal — think Enron — or performance issue expected to result in significant layoffs.

Dewett said, as well as in the event you snag your dream job.

You should “jump ship as soon as you can” if the organization’s goals are antithetical to your own values, added Elizaga.

Other great reasons include your physical or mental health at stake, a toxic environment to develop and grow, or an environment that could be detrimental to your career goals, Cohen said.

You may also choose to leave because the boss, culture or demands of the job posed an obvious and significant bad fit, according to Dewett.

You might like: What to do When Boss Thinks You are Not Meeting Expectations


How Long To Give A New Job Before Quitting?

With all the explanations above, I recommend as a rule of thumb, you should stay at each job for a minimum of two years.

However, if you quickly come to realize you made the wrong decision when accepting a role, don’t feel indebted to stay at the company until your two-year anniversary.

Quit and start looking for another job immediately once:

  1. You have a feeling your job is putting your mental or physical health at risk
  2. You truly hate what you’re doing and the job isn’t a necessary step to reaching your dream career
  3. You’re a complete mismatch with the company culture
  4. The company is financially unstable


Inadequate excuses for quitting after just a couple months include boredom, dislike of coworkers or an immediate emotional reaction to job duties.

Cohen said. “You need to be able to address… ‘Is this situational and I need to learn the ropes, or is this systemic — this organization is not a fit and I’m not going to grow here’?

Already decided to leave early? Get set to “tell a story” around why — without throwing hate on the boss or company.

“You have to be able to explain what you’re moving towards,” Cohen said. “Not ‘I hated my boss’ or ‘This environment sucked’ — it should be ‘Moving to this position enables me to do XYZ.’

Note that ways in which the new job will allow you to use your skills should facilitate your focus while there should be some acknowledgement of your short stay at your last job.

You might like: Job Ghosting Is Real: All You Need to Know


Will You Be Seen As A Job Hopper?

Having just one short-lived permanent job in your employment history cannot be a serious issue, and it’s fairly easy for a hiring manager to overlook this, provided you can adequately address your reasons for leaving.

Everyone makes one mistake or another and most importantly Layoffs happen!

However, in a case where 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 be efficient at work.


How To Make The Most Of A Short-Lived Job

Looking to make the most of a short-lived job?

Get ready to throw extensive insight on what you learned from this work experience and how it’s assisted you in identifying what you’re looking for in your next role.

Articulate your wish to find an organization you can truly call home.

Then, explain why you think this new company and job opportunity is the right fit — and why you’re the right candidate for the opening.


Finish Strong

If you decide that sticking around is the better option, Reynolds advises to “make sure you’re doing as good of a job as possible. Even if you know you won’t be there long, it’s better for your professional reputation to do the job as well as you can.”

But, if you make the decision to leave, you may be able to strategically turn things in your favor by spinning your experience into one that looks better in the eyes of future recruiters.

Instead of prematurely quitting with little to show for your time at the company, you can consider identifying an initiative or executing a project as a record of a professional accomplishment before you quit.

If you can quantify key achievements, this can help furnish your ability to add value, even in a brief time frame.

You might like: CAREER SUCCESS: 10 tips on how to be successful at work


Decide To Quit Your Job? Now, Here’s What You Should Do

Are you at a verge of making this key decision to quit your job?

Try to secure a new position first.

It seems way easier to get a job when you’re already on a job.

You should focus on identifying the right job and work environment rather than getting out of your current situation as quickly as you feel like.

Remember, you don’t want to 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.

You have to sustain your personal brand, showcasing you’re still a valuable resource and a talented employee.

You don’t want your choice to define who you are as a professional and you achieve that by building on values you can contribute and offer.

As our CEO, Michael puts it; the old advice of staying in a bad job for at least two years, even if you don’t like it, “are not the rules we play by anymore.”

Ready to look for a new job? Get started with a free resume review.

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