Ask your counsellor — Is it okay to leave a job in less than a year?

Someone recently asked me if leaving a job in less than a year would hamper their career because someone advised them against it. Here’s my take on it as a career counsellor.

While growing up, I changed many fields. First, I wanted to be an architect, then studied IT, later early childhood education and career counselling, and finally ended up with an arts degree. During each shift, I would hear from people around me about how I should find stability in my career. Stick to one domain.

I have changed jobs in less than a year, for various reasons. Even then, I would hear how I should stay at a job for at least a year before I make a shift.

It surprised me when clients who came to me for career counselling started mentioning similar reasons for being stuck at a job they didn’t enjoy. It gave them a tough time with long working hours and no considerable growth in sight, but they continued because somebody told them they shouldn’t leave a job in less than a year.

Harvard Business Review mentions how the current labor market is more ‘candidate-driven’ and more than employers, it’s the job seekers that hold power in this ever changing market.

Now, I am not saying it is wrong to find stability in a job you might not necessarily like at first. There is no rule of thumb. It depends on your current situation and priorities. I am saying it’s not okay to stick to a job when you really don’t want to, just because someone advised you so.

I left my first job in education because my workplace became too toxic for me to handle. Similarly, your workplace can be too toxic or you might have to relocate for some other priorities.

The same article in Harvard Business Review also talks about how short stints do not hurt the resume anymore. With the pandemic, and the increasing demand of freelancers, short stints are not as consequential as they were maybe some decades back. John Sullivan, author and professor, talks about how millennials are especially prone to short lived jobs.

While this is one take, Alison Green, a columnist at inc.com has a different take.

The catch is this: You can only do it (quit in a short time) once with impunity. If you do it a second time, then yes, employers are going to start wondering what’s up with you.

But you get one freebie. You get it because things happen, and employers know that. It’s when it’s a pattern that they start wondering about the real story and you start looking like a risky bet.

So whether you should jump your job in less than a year or two depends on various factors. And the one thing you should not consider is someone’s opinions without sitting down with yourself and prioritising stuff first. In this ever changing job market, the one thing that you don’t want to do is internalise something like this.

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Tanisha Venkani

Tanisha Venkani

Subscribe to my free newsletter: https://thehitandmiss.substack.com/

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