How long is too long? How long is not long enough? Times have changed and it’s not always looked upon as favorable that you have stayed with a company for 20 years.
According to an online article in Forbes, over 90% of people born between 1977 and 1997 expect to stay in jobs no more than 3 years, meaning most of them will have between 15 and 20 jobs over the course of their lives. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that median employee tenure in 2012 was 4.6 years.
Employers want to hire people who have learned and progressed in their last company and have not grown stale in their role. They want to hire people who have succeeded in multiple environments, worked with many types of personalities, thrived under various management styles, solved issues, and experienced the different systems and processes.
People are much more focused on their own careers and the idea of staying with a company for loyalty is outdated. Many times, growth opportunity, promotions, and compensation increases are not always available at your current company. So even if they have treated you well and you have a sense of loyalty to them, you may have to make the tough decision to leave.
On the other hand, there is definitely such thing as “not long enough.” The risk here is that the new employer will question your ability to make a sound decision. They will wonder if you did your due diligence on the position, people, culture, financial state of the company, etc. They will also wonder about your ability to stick out something that is difficult. Nobody walks into a new job and knows how to do everything right away; there is always a learning curve. Are you willing to push through that learning curve and be out of your comfort zone for a while?
People need to manage their job changes in order to reach their goals; nobody will do it for them. Meeting or even exceeding expectations is no longer enough for many companies. You need to be proactive and sometimes that means going to a new company.
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics
2. Meister, Jeanne. (8/14/12). Forbes Magazine online