This is a question I have gotten so often over the years from either recent or experienced graduates. Some have been in an unsatisfying job for some time, but feel stuck because of financial reasons and cannot make the move. On the other side of the spectrum are young people who are very impatient and believe that they should immediately be promoted because they view themselves as having higher potential than their current position. I never feel comfortable with my responses to general questions in this area because it is such an individual thing. As a counselor, I have to assess if the client is really ready to leave and how desperate are they that they are willing to make some sacrifices that may come with a new move. It’s much easier if a person is either laid off or is going to be laid off. Recently a Pace Alum sent me this email. I think it really lays out some of the issues regarding leaving a position. I will also post my response:
Tiffany Lee, March 16
Dr. Miller, in your professional opinion, what amount of time, if any, should an employee wait to seek a new position once they realize that they don’t like the one they have after being hired?
I know employers view “job hopping” negatively, but as a candidate who feels their current position does not meet their expectations growth or compensation wise— should an employee be forced to become complacent and stagnant in a position that does not make the most of their skill set, just to show job longevity on a resume?
Isn’t the point of career advancement to always proactively seek out options that are a better match for your skill set and career goals in order to achieve career fulfillment? Why is this viewed negatively by employers?
A lot of job seekers need a source of income to cover living expenses and cannot always wait for that “dream job” to come along. Therefore they may have to take “detours” from their planned career path with jobs not in their desired fields. I would like to know your thoughts on this subject. I look forward to your response.
Barry Miller, March 17
I really like the way you framed your questions. Would you mind if I published them in an article I am writing? I would also include my responses.
1. When should I leave a dead end job?
If you can’t afford to leave because of financial obligations try to stay as long as you can.
2. If the job causes you too much pain to stay and is impacting on you mental and physical health, try to get other to help you financially until you get a job and get on your feet.
3. An explanation for leaving a job right after you were hired is that you realized that the job was not a good match and you wanted to cut your losses and the companies. Recognizing those things early is not a negative.
4. Don’t make your explanation all about money and advancement. Companies can view your rapid desire for advancement as not willing to learn and grow in position. You may value your skills more than others.
5. Dream jobs have to be earned. They are not your right. You need to build your brand by the results and value you can demonstrate. Your personal claims as to how good you are don’t cut it. Prove it by the results you have achieved. They have to be measurable and quantitative.
6. Don’t see detours as such. They are important experiences that build your knowledge and character.
What advice would you give Tiffany?