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A year is a long time

Q. How long should you reasonably be expected to commit to a new job? I'm in an entry-level position currently and have been looking for a new job on-and-off for the last 18 months with no success. I'll likely move out of state next summer when my boyfriend finishes graduate school. Advancement within my company isn't an option. I’ve promised myself I'll stop my search once I know I would be at a new job for less than a year, but I still feel uneasy submitting applications. I'm very unhappy with my current job, but don't want to make enemies at a new job by leaving shortly after starting. Any advice would be most appreciated.

A. P., Huntington, NY

A. While the time frame can change, a one-year minimum commitment to a job is a good rule of thumb. That time frame can be affected by the type of job it is and how long employees typically stay in the particular position before advancing or changing jobs.
Before springing your time limitation in an interview, try to ascertain the expectations of the particular position. Ask how long the person before you held it and if that was the typical tenure. If the interviewer asks how long you’re able to commit, be upfront about your time constraints. You’re correct in thinking that you’re less likely to get a good recommendation or future career network support if you leave a job soon after taking it.

A year is a long time and plans can change. There are a variety of factors that may influence your situation a year from now. A new job may turn out to be your dream job that you don't want to leave. Your boyfriend’s plans may change. While I hope it’s rock solid, your relationship itself may change. Your instincts are correct: if you arrive at a point where you will be in your present job for less than a year, then staying there until your future is well defined may be your best option. You’ll be able to give your employer reasonable notice and leave on a positive note and, perhaps, with a letter of recommendation.

You’ve looked for a new job unsuccessfully on and off for 18 months. If you decide to continue your search, shake things up. In your off hours, make the job search your number one priority, not an on- or off- again effort. Examine your current network and how you can modify or add to it to help you be successful. A one-year position could be a perfect opportunity to try something different outside your career experience or education. There may be interesting opportunities at a local hospital, retail store, dot-com, financial business, or non-profit.

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