The Tenure Dilemma – Should I Stay or Should I Go?
The Tenure Dilemma – Should I Stay or Should I Go?

The Tenure Dilemma – Should I Stay or Should I Go?

How much time should you really spend in a job? It’s the eternal dilemma.

The question of whether you should you move onto greener pastures every 12-18 months and risk being seen as a ‘job-hopper’, or should you stay in one place and risk being seen as part of the furniture? However one thing is clear, the days of ‘career employees’ – those who stay in one company for all or most of their working life – are over. Deciding how long one opts to stay with the same employer in now the question each employee needs to consider.

With plentiful opportunities and broader options, many people now demand more from their employers and more from their own careers. This means they’re more likely to hop around different companies until they find the conditions they want and the potential for career development and advancement they seek.

But as job-hopping becomes the new norm, it raises the question: how much time should you spend in a job?

As always, there are pros and cons to weigh-up on both sides. A lengthy tenure with one company can give the impression that you aren’t interested in growing your career. Rightly or wrongly, the perception is that you may not have the flexibility to move to another company, or that you haven’t kept your skills up to scratch.

On the other side of the coin, job-hoppers – a term often (incorrectly) used to describe Millennials – may find their lack of loyalty troubling to employers after two or three short stints: they may see their very expensive assets, with all the training and support they have received, walking out the door before any return on investment can be seen.

Unfortunately there is no magic number: it’s about quality, not quantity.

If you are still learning in your role and getting satisfaction from it, you shouldn’t feel pressured to move ‘just because’. Staying in the wrong job for the wrong reasons can be just as harmful for both the employee and employer. Remember: what you achieve in your time in a role is more important than how long you were in it – and that applies to long and short tenures.

SEEK research found that 29% of Australians expect to progress internally within their current organisation. If this sounds like you, then it makes sense to stay. But if you’re in the 45% of Australians who feel they need to leave their current employer in order to progress in their careers, then a change might be needed in order for you to continue to grow professionally.

If you’re looking at your resume and are concerned about being perceived like this – and perhaps you’re thinking of moving again – ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I leaving for the right reasons (better job, more money, more development, greater flexibility)?
  • Am I prepared to assure employers that I’m not a ‘flight risk’ within my first 12 months in the job?
  • Will changing jobs now going to help or hinder my career? Are there opportunities for advancement or development just around the corner in my current organisation?

Whether you’re a loyal-to-one-employer type of person or a job-hopper-and-proud-of-it type of person the message you need to convey to a new employer is similar: explain why you opted to stay as long as you did, or why you opted to move within a short timespan. Outline why you made the choice you did: you left to gain greater exposure to new fields; you stayed because you enjoyed the role. Employers value both curiosity and loyalty, so either way you could potentially use your tenure length to your advantage.

It’s clear that spending a considered amount of time in a job helps potential employers feel comfortable investing in you as your skills increase. But at the end of the day, you can only do your best work if you’re happy. So finding a balance of both is crucial.

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