I’ve left two jobs that I had for just about a year each. One time it was my choice. The other time it wasn’t. It was a bummer for many reasons.
Regardless of the circumstances of my departure, I have always had to explain why I was in those positions for such a short time when applying for another job.
I’ve felt like it was a big black mark on my resume.
One employer told me it was why they didn’t want to move forward with me as a candidate for a position.
They said it looked like I “jumped around” a lot and I didn’t value “stability.”
They also told me they didn’t want to invest in me if I was only going to be there a short time.
I can understand from where they are coming, but I think it’s shortsighted. Many people today don’t stay in jobs for many years. They do “jump around” for many reasons, and it is okay to do so sometimes.
There’s nothing that says you need to stay in a job any longer than you have to except for the voice inside your head.
While you don’t want to job-hop too often, you also don’t want to stay in a situation that isn’t working for you.
We shouldn’t judge people’s work history without learning more about them and the reasons behind their decisions to stay or leave.
There was a time in my career where I needed a break from the hustle and bustle of law firm life after my mom died from cancer. I know that I was judged for leaving a cushy job to take on a consulting role. No one would know why I left from just looking at my resume.
Perhaps part of it is a generational thing – earlier generations stayed at jobs longer than the generations that followed them – but there is so much more than meets the eye than what’s on my resume or yours, or from what you can glean in a 15-minute phone screen.
And while there is nothing wrong with having tenure at a company, there is also nothing wrong with gaining experience from having worked in many different environments.
Leaving a job before a year is up is not a horrible mistake that will instantly render you unemployable. There are times when it’s reasonable to leave a job after a short period of time.
In my case, I found out my boss wasn’t so great after working with him for a few months. In the other role, there was a reorganization and the people at the top were the first on the chopping block.
You never really know what a job is going to be like until you actually get there and start working each day. It’s the same thing when you enter a relationship with someone!
I went on to have several successful roles with longer tenures at other organizations. In the course of your entire professional history leaving a job after a year or even sooner will likely happen to you. And it’s okay. You shouldn’t stay in a position just to get to a certain length of tenure there. You should do what makes you happy and what is good for you.
Here’s the thing – one year actually isn’t very long in most fields, so if you have a string of multiple one-year stays, you’re going to look like a job-hopper. Everyone is allowed to make a mistake here and there. Make sure to make your next job decision wisely as you’ll need to stay there for at least 2-3 years.
Put aside what you think it means if someone has moved jobs often or had short tenures at certain positions and get to know them on an authentic level to see if they are really a good fit for your team and organization. Judge me for me – my talents, my experience, my passion and ability to do the job – not how long or short of a time I spent in a role.
I wish I could tell my younger self, pictured here in the very first power suit I ever wore, but it’s OK sometimes when a job doesn’t work out. That is OK to not stick it out and to cut your losses.
The same goes for your personal life as well. Sometimes staying in something is worse than leaving. I would tell my younger self that it’s OK to make mistakes, it’s how you deal with them. And I would tell her to continue to soldier on to find career happiness and fulfillment because she deserves it.
And so do each of you.