Do I Have To Stay At My Job For a Year?

Do you have to stay at your job for a year? Here's how to answer that tricky question.

“Do I have to stay at my job for a year?” is one of the most common questions clients and potential clients ask me.

For the last few months, I have had at least one client as me if they had to stay at their job for at least a year.

It’s also a question that I’ve had to ask myself when a job has turned to not be such a great fit.

If you make a career move that doesn’t feel right…Do you have to stay at your job for a year before you can start looking?

I’m not entirely sure where this one year threshold comes from.

(I’m assuming, by the way, that you haven’t made any formal commitment to stay in your role for any period of time. If you’ve signed a contract, you might want to see a lawyer!)

Of course, job hopping — or moving quickly from one job to another– doesn’t look great. As someone who has sat on committees and reviewed a lot of resumes, it can definitely be hard to tell what the movement might be about.

That said, I don’t think sticking it out one year is some sort of magical threshold that somehow reflects responsibility reliability.

In fact, it feels like a pretty arbitrary timeline if you ask me.

That said, I do think there are times when quitting quickly could be a mistake.

Here are some things worth considering when you find yourself asking, “Do I have to stay at my job for a year?”

What does my work history look like now?

Do you have strong references? Have you held jobs at other places for extended periods of time?

If you feel satisfied with your resume and professional references than I wouldn’t worry too much about how it might look leaving one job after a short period of time.

You might consider how you’ll explain your transitions, briefly, in either your cover letter or at your interview, if you feel like it looks like a pattern.

(If you’re not confident about talking about your work history and abilities, especially if you’ve encountered obstacles at work, check out the Work Wonders Career Bootcamp. It’s literally created to help you communicate effectively on the job search.)

What are the benefits to sticking it out?

If there is a significant learning curve to your position, you might feel stressed out and overwhelmed at first.

But the first few weeks or months might not fully reflect the scope of the position in the long term. Ideally, you’ll feel supported in a position like this.

If you’re not sure if it’s worth it, talk to a mentor or trusted colleague for another perspective.

Why isn’t it working?

There are lots of reasons that a position might not be a good fit.

The red flag for a hiring manager would be multiple short stints at different places.

Are you able to confidently explain why you left and why the job wasn’t a good fit? If so, hiring managers will likely not be too concerned about your short time at a given  organization.

The time it takes to do some reflection will definitely pay off and help you communicate that to potential employers.

You want to be able to focus and share what you learned and what is important to you without sounding critical, angry, or resentful of your previous employer.

(Remember, that’s what friends, not job interviews, are for!).

Do I have to stay at my job for a year?

The bottom line is that your career can probably survive quitting job you’ve had for less than a year.

The most important part of making a decision like this isn’t actually the decision itself.

It’s the process of finding clarity around what you value in a job and feeling confident in communicating your experience.

Have you left a job within one year? Let me know what your experience was like in the comments below!

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