How long is it smart to stay at a job? A lot 'can't be accomplished in less than a year,' expert warns

"You want to give yourself an opportunity to set goals with your manager."


Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) have long been considered the generation that job hops, or doesn't stick around at one workplace too long before switching to another. It seems Gen Z (born between 1997 and 1999) is following suit and staying at each job for even less time.

New data from careers site CareerBuilder finds while millennials are spending an average of two years and nine months in a given role, Gen Zers are staying an average of two years and three months. Both are considerably shorter durations than previous generations. Gen Xers (born between 1965 to 1980) stay an average of five years and two months at a job, and baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) stay an average of eight years and three months.

There are multiple reasons younger people might be moving on more quickly. Economic factors come into play, like the Great Recession in 2007, and the fact that Gen Zers have only recently entered the job market and haven't had enough time to stay longer than two or three years in a given role.

Regardless, Gen Z may be on to something. The ideal length of time to stay, in terms of your personal growth and prospects for the future, could be about two years, says Angelina Darrisaw, a career coach and founder and CEO of C-Suite Coach. "You want to give yourself an opportunity to set goals with your manager, track progress on those goals, and see if you have indeed made the progress," she says. "Two years allows more room and opportunity to see that through really thoroughly."

If you want to get a lot out of your job, though, she cautions, bear in mind that "typically, that can't be accomplished in less than a year."

How to know when it's time to move on and get a new job

Hitting that two-year mark can help prove to your employer that you can accomplish the tasks you're given and open up opportunities for you within the company. It can also give you an array of new projects and experience to list on your resume and LinkedIn.

If you find yourself looking for new roles even before you've hit the two-year mark, it might be time to ask yourself some questions. "Are you bored? Are you growing? Are you not learning any new skills? Is there no room for a promotion?" says Kim Perell, author of "Jump: Dare to Do What Scares You in Business and Life."

If any of the reasons you're looking for a new gig can be addressed within this one, like adding new responsibilities to your role to help you learn a new skill set, bring that up with your boss. You might be able to get more from your current position than you realize. And if you find you've really hit the ceiling with what the job can do for you and vice versa, it might be time to go.

If the reason you're looking for a new opportunity is that your mental health is suffering at work, though, the job really isn't worth it, says Perell. Don't worry about staying for a specific amount of time: "If you're being disrespected, you're in a toxic work environment, you should leave," she says.

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