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What Is A Reasonable Length Of Time In One Job

A job for life is very rare these days. Most people have at least three or four different positions over the duration of their career, if not more. But for many the burning question is how long you should stay with one particular company.

Many employees bag a job which looks great on paper only to find they hate their new position. Within just a few months they know the job is not for them.

The good news is that the age of sticking it out and hoping for the best is well and truly over. Times may be tough but taking stock and moving on could be the only way to secure a job you really love.

Staying with a company for at last a year is seen as a career norm, particularly if it’s your first job. The reason being that leaving any sooner could give the impression you are unreliable or have unrealistic expectations of what your chosen career path involves.

However if you really can’t stand the daily grind asking yourself a few vital questions will help you judge whether it’s time to move on. Do you like what you are doing? Are you learning professionally and does it fit in with your long term goals? If you are struggling to answer in a positive way it may well be time to brush up your CV.

For workers who have been in the same job for two or three years boredom and apathy can be major problems. Professional development is very important and something which should continue right the way through your career – a fact which many companies forget.

Some businesses are very good at offering staff training and development opportunities while others don’t see it as a necessity. If you are struggling to find enthusiasm for your current position it’s worthwhile asking if any training programmes or schemes are in place. It could help increase your confidence and your everyday performance in your current role or secure a new job in another department or even a sought-after promotion.

Looking at how your department or company functions as a whole is a great indicator of whether or not it’s time to move on. Are fellow workers climbing the career ladder or are they finding new opportunities elsewhere? You can learn a lot from watching what happens to other employees and noticing any patterns.

Health can be another major indicator of how you feel about work. A recent Mori survey carried out for the European Depression Association (EDA) discovered one in ten workers throughout Europe had taken time off because of depression.

Britain suffered the highest rates – with 26 per cent of workers being diagnosed with depression at some point in their lives.1 When work starts to affect your health, it’s time to seriously consider your options.

Many people also fail to consider how they feel about the industry they work in. You may like what you do from day-to-day but if you don’t like the industry or the people you work with, it might be a good idea to look outwith your current field.

Perhaps you could compromise in a few areas to try out a position you know you would enjoy. For instance, if your current job has equipped you with a lot of transferrable skills and you want to work for a charity, taking a pay cut or considering a longer daily commute might deliver the job of your dreams.

Similarly, looking at your strengths and weaknesses might give you an indication of where your skills might be best suited. Make sure you take note of what you don’t like in your current position and see if you can improve upon or avoid them altogether when job hunting.

With a little bit of brain storming you could use your current skills to switch industries and your working environment relatively easily. However, it’s worth remembering that every job has its pros and cons – no matter what it’s important to have realistic expectations.

If you are really unhappy in your job the urge to pack it all in can be overwhelming. But contrary to popular belief, sometimes leaving a position before you have another one lined up can actually work in your favour.

Instead of constantly job-hopping from one unsuitable position to another, taking some time out to figure out what’s best for you can help you answer a lot of career questions.

Use the time to re-train, do a bit of freelancing or even travel and focus on what you want from your working life. When you get an interview for a position you really want, explain your career break to your potential employers and why you are so enthusiastic about the opportunity. Every company wants to hire someone who enjoys their work and views it as part of their long-term career.

Of course jumping ship is not for everybody. Some people could actually benefit in the long run by sticking with their current employers. If you are happy in your current position, feel sufficiently challenged and your efforts are recognised by your superiors, staying on could deliver a lot of perks.

For one thing you could progress up the career ladder, earning more and more and as your responsibilities increase. Successful working relationships which are well established can also make your day-to-day environment very productive – creating a good work-life balance.

As long as you feel you are continually developing professionally and adding to your skills and experience, staying on is a healthy option.

Remember that there are no hard and fast rules about how long you should stay with one particular company. Weigh up how your chosen career is progressing and if your unique skills set could be put to better use elsewhere.

Be proactive and evaluate your current position for what it is. Don’t just stick your head in the sand – take control of the situation. That way if you do need to move and fast, you can do something about it.


1. One in ten European workers suffers from depression

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