How Long Should You Stay in One Job?

Would You Stay in One Job for Decades?

Once upon a time, not that long ago, it was considered a sign of loyalty and achievement to remain in one job. “A job for life” was a gold-standard and a status to strive toward. With today’s job environment, that’s no longer a realistic option for many of us. With plentiful opportunities and broader options, today’s job seekers demand more from their employers. This means they’re more likely to shop around different companies until they find the conditions they want.

On the other hand, how long you stay at a company can still say much about you as a potential employee, and stay too short a time at several jobs, and you’ll be deemed a job hopper; too long, and you might be considered unmotivated or overly set in your ways.

The truth is that these days, we only increase our skills by trying new things and staying in the same job does not give the same opportunity to try new things that a person gets by changing assignments. It boils down to this – have you really had twenty years of experience – or one year, repeated twenty times?

It should be said from the outset that being in one job for ten years or more, but having demonstrably moved up the ladder via promotions is not the same thing as having one job title for the same amount of time.

stay in one job

Are You In A Rut?

It’s a valid question. It’s easy to fall into a routine, no-one like change and familiarity with colleagues, surroundings and duties can be an attractive proposition for many. But in many cases, a year is suddenly five, and then ten, and swiftly the bulk of your working life is behind you. Salaries tend to hit their plateau when people are in their forties — and finding a new opportunity gets harder past the age of 45. That means if you’re approaching 40, the next few years could be the best time to go for a higher-paying, better status job. Have you fulfilled your potential or has career advancement passed you by, forsaken because you’ve taken the path of least resistance?

Many people reading this will think it’s not a bad option, but the fact is they have most likely squandered not just their earning possibilities but the opportunity for a genuinely fulfilling career.

stay in one job

The Dangers You Face If You Stay in One Job Too Long

You need to think about what you want. An HR manager looking at a resume that has one position at one company for ten years will give them the impression that you lack drive and don’t enjoy learning new things. They may consider you someone afraid of change.

There are other dangers too. When you remain in one job for too long, your confidence can erode over time. You can easily start to think that success means getting a good performance review. That is a very narrow definition for success, and then there is the fact that when you stay in one job for too long, a sudden jolt, like redundancy can utterly destroy your confidence because of what your lengthy tenure represents to you. When you change jobs every few years (voluntarily or otherwise), you get used to picking yourself up and carrying on.

Ultimately, to stay in one role in one job too long makes you stagnate, and simply does not bode well for your future employment opportunities. The mere fact that you are reading this blog article means you are considering a job change. But is it because you want to or because you have to? If you’ve stayed too long in one job and are now job hunting, you will find it harder to dispel certain preconceptions.

stay in one job

It’s Time to Reevaluate

If you have languished in your career by staying in the same job for too long, you can wake yourself up. You can begin to think about possibilities for your career beyond your current situation. The general consensus is that – if you’re taking a long-term strategic view to maximise your earning capacity and job satisfaction, you should consider changing jobs approximately every four years.

However, at the end of the day, when considering a new job, the advice for job hoppers and long-time employees is not dissimilar – position and explain your career history in a way that sounds good to the company and puts you in the best possible light. If you have had a series of short jobs, string them together to show you’re on an upward career arc. And if you’ve been loyal to one place, show how you’ve evolved and continue to keep growing. As with other job searching situations, it’s all about positioning yourself and dealing with the cards you’ve been dealt with.

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