How long should you stay at your second job?

I’m pretty close to leaving my job for a better one, in fact I’ve got an offer on the table that I’m 90% sure I’ll take.

The job I’m leaving is also the first “real” job I’ve held since gradating college. I’ve been there for over 2 years, but it has gotten to the point where I can see its just about time for me to move on.

Now, I’m absolutely going into this new job with the attitude that I’ll be there for a long time. I’m not looking at this as a stepping stone or a temporary thing, this is my new career. Ideally this company will be the one I retire from, but I realize that is getting to be very unusual these days. Basically, for the immediate future I won’t be considering other jobs.

But, what if this doesn’t work out, or if I end up not liking my new job? Or, what if something better comes along? Would I be being unfair to my new employeer if I continued to “keep my eyes open” for better jobs? How short of a tenure at job on your resume would be too short?

Also, any other general adivce on changing jobs would be appreciated too.

Thanks for reading.

There are no hard and fast rules for this. It isn’t unreasonable to leave one job in a short period of time but you certainly don’t want to make it a habit to the point your resume shows you as a job hopper. Keep a balance. Some folks say you should alway be looking for your next job but the decision to take an opportunity should be weighed against the ethics of walking away fom your old one.

In my own case I was warned when I took my job that there is a high turnover because of the pressure of working on the road and they didn’t want me if I was just going to bail in six months. That and the fact that they hired me after being outright fired from my previous job prompted me to make a personal vow to stick it out at least two years. Another co-worker who left the same previous employer bailed in a few months.

There isn’t a lot of employer loyalty to workers these days but make your own ethics a little higher than they have to be.

I would say it really depends on the level of the relationship you have for your coworkers.

If I hated my job but liked my coworkers, for example, I wouldn’t leave at the drop of the hat knowing my absence would screw them over in some way. Similarly, if I had a mager whose position/presence/etc would be helpful in getting me a better job/promoted/etc somewhere, I would be careful not to alienate them.

I just don’t hire anyone who has a string of jobs lating less than 2 or 3 years. I don’t mind a short-term stay or two, and if someone bails from one job at 6 months or so, I can understand that it didn’t work out, but I like to see someone with at least 5 years at one or more jobs. It takes a person a year or so to become really productive, and I won’t take a chance on someone who solves live’s problems by quitting their company. There are plenty of people out there who will only work for 6 months to 2 years and then move on.

If it really doesn’t work out, then don’t stay in a bad situation for too long. This is a reason that you really need to “interview” your future boss before taking a job, to get an idea if this would be a job from hell or not. Naturally, you can’t completely tell, just like a company can’t competely tell if someone is really good just from an interview.

And congrats on the new job if you take it.

It depends greatly on your occupation. I have 2 simultaneous careers in utterly separate occupations.

In one occupation, changing jobs unless your former employer went out of business is unheard of, a sure sign of major problems in your past. Job-hopping even once is effectively a lifelong blacklisting.

In my other occupation, most workers are effectively temps who are hired for a project, frequently from a 3rd party staffing company, used for 6 to 12 months and then unceremoniously dumped. For those folks, staying in one place more than 18 months is a sign of stagnation and weak drive, not a sign of stability. Hiring managers want to see frequent moves.

So without knowing what country you’re in, nor what occupation, nor the training requirements, nor the employer expectations, nor the professional level, etc., of the various jobs you’re asking about, I’ll suggest that none of us can give good advice.

A concensus of individual guesswork is still just guesswork. Give us more info and we’ll try to give useful advice.

Thanks for the replies.

For a little more background:

My new job would be in purchasing. Old job was kind of a “do everything” position, I deal/dealt with a lot of areas of the business, a lot of it being stuff no one else wants to deal with. To be honest I really don’t have a field I’m focusing on, I’d be open to a very wide range of jobs now and in the future.

Also, I should be leaving my current job on great terms. I have really exceeded my current company’s expectations I think, and I haven’t had anything negative come up in the 2+ years I’ve been there. The main reason I’m leaving is that even when I started it was a job I kind of just settled for. I did make the best of it, but I think I’ve done almost all I can do with my current position. Inernal promotions would be out there, but still wouldn’t get me to where I want to be.

So, that’s where I’m at. I plan on putting in my 3 weeks notice this morning. I will be going into the new position with the hopes of being there for ever. But, I also plan on keeping my resume updated just in case.

Thanks again for the help.

Well, I’d like to revisit this question if possible, because I’m starting to think I’d like to look for a different job. I’m not at the point where I really hate my new job, but I’m definitely starting to dislike it. I really don’t think I’ll be here long term, but another few months to a year wouldn’t be too hard either.

I’ve got a few reasons I don’t like this job, and to be honest I think they’re pretty reasonabe. One main reason is that I’m working with a good buddy of mine (he actually got me the job there), and it may sound weird but I just don’t think that was a good idea. Other reasons include the fact that a lot of the work is boring and repetitive, there isn’t really enough work to take up a whole day, and I never really get away from my desk except for lunch. I’ve also found out since I started this job that this position has had a lot of turnover, and even at 4 months I think I’ve been here longer than a lot of my predecessors. The main redeeming thing about this job is that it pays about 20% more than my previous job.

As far as new jobs I’d be looking for, they really vary greatly. I don’t have a specific field, or area or career path I want to concentrate on, and there are a lot of potential areas I’d be interested in.

Right now my resume has 2 “real world” jobs on it (this one and my previous), since I graduated college. I was at my first job for about 2.5 years, and have been at this one for just over 4 months. I’ve also got a job/internship listed that I worked while in college and was at for 4 years. I do have my jobs listed by years, with my current job is listed as “2005-present”, so it isn’t immediately apparent that I’ve been there for less than a year.

So, just over 4 months into this job, it is it too early to start looking to move on? Would be 6 months be to early, or should I really try to stick it out and make it a year? Longer?

Thanks again for the responses back in November, and thanks for reading this thread again now.

My advise as someone who changes jobs on average every 18 months is that you need to think in terms of what is the ultimate path for your career track - partner in a law, consulting or accounting firm. CEO, CFO, CIO, VP of marketing? How long you stay and whether you should change jobs should depend on your answer to the question “is this taking me closer to my end goal”?

The alternative is possibly falling into the trap of changing jobs every 18 months in what amounts to a lateral move for slightly more money.

But realistically, what jobs are these people who say “I won’t hire anyone who changes jobs every 2 years” really hiring for? Yeah, it’s nice to build some longevity, but a truly talented candidate will have likely grown out of his/her job after 2 years. Are these employers going to keep pace with that candidates salary and promotion requirements? Or are they going to be scratching their heads and grinding their teeth because their best employee showed the audacity to give up 2% raises for a bigger better deal?

“Loyalty” is the last resort of cheap and self absorbed employers.