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Should I stay or should I go? What looks good on a CV now?

Posted by Alison Keogh

Deciding how long you should stay in one job can be difficult. Questions that are asked by many a candidate nowadays are; should you stay in one job for a long period of time? Is being a “lifer” a good thing or a bad thing?

So what looks best on a CV?

In my opinion, as an employee there's a fine line between establishing tenure at a company to show that you're not a job hopper, and staying so long in the same job you stop developing and learning new skills, ultimately leading to little or no progression. 

Good tenure is still highly sought after by employers. According to Amanda Augustine, career advice expert for TopResume, in an ideal world you should try and stay at each job for at least two years as employers may cast doubts on your employability if you have more short stints than long ones, and potentially question your judgement, career goals and performance as an employee. A Bullhorn survey also found that 39% of recruiters believe that the biggest obstacle for an unemployed candidate in regaining employment is having a history of job-hopping or leaving a company before one year.

The BBC spoke to Claire McCartney, Senior Advisor for the CIPD, who had a very sensible approach to the subject and felt there was a minimum tenure for changing jobs. In her opinion, remaining at a job for between 6-12 months and then changing could make employers wary when considering whether to hire you. On the other hand, if you leave a company within 3 months it is normally because you turn up and the role or company culture is not as described at the interview, you have a change in personal circumstances, or it simply is just not the right fit for you and you know immediately. This type of tenure can (normally) be explained on a CV and if it only happens once in your career, can be the ‘blip’ that a lot of people have had to experience and overcome.

When is the best time to change jobs?

While it is true that constantly job-hopping may not send the right messages to potential employers, it is also fair to say that leaving a job doesn’t have the same stigma that it once did - particularly when a move makes sense in the context of your overall career goals.

Employers like to see clear progression and professional development in potential candidates. This could possibly include the development of a diverse skill set across disciplines, departments or even secondments. I am of the opinion that the size of an organisation can be a potential factor in determining how long you decide to stay in a role, with larger companies offering secondments, more opportunities to progress through the ranks, and a broader spectrum of departments to gain exposure to - all of which are positive, both for future employers and for you in mapping out your career.

As well as this, in certain sectors regular change is not only common, but favourable. In the sectors that we recruit for here at Pro-Recruitment Group, we often find that changing jobs - within reason - is highly sought after. People can gain exposure to different ideas and approaches, see how different businesses are run, gain technical expertise from varied roles and work within different sectors with a wide variety of clientele.

Job switches may reward you with a broader skill-base and higher compensation than if you were to work for only one or two companies during your career. In most cases, changing roles every 3-5 years if you are looking for progression or variety is seen as a positive in the current hiring market. Gone are the days when a Partner is a Partner at one firm and one firm only.

So how long should an employee stay at one job?

To conclude, you can explain a ‘blip’ on your CV albeit only once, and you are encouraged to change jobs if a move offers progression, variety and a different way of learning something. However, if you are gaining all of the above and more in your current role it is not frowned upon to stay with one firm, so long as you can demonstrate movement, variety and climbing that all important career ladder.


For more information on this article or to speak to our recruitment experts about your next career move, contact Alison on 02072696312 or alison.keogh@pro-tax.co.uk.

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