I get asked this question a lot by candidates that I meet and find it is sometimes hard to answer, I mean the Queen this year has celebrated her 60th year and most people are in awe of this; England has spent a month long celebrating this auspicious occasion.

Here in Australia we recruit for companies like Hasting Deering and Sealy Posturepedic that have the 25 Year Service Board of which they are very proud of and should be; I know of staff that have been at Energex and Telstra for 40 years service – So how long is considered too long?

In some industries a year is considered a marathon, take our own industry as an example; recruitment – most staff last one year and then it is time for a move. If you have been in the same firm for three, it is considered an achievement and then you have people like me, working with one firm for ten years is considered a massive achievement, even “out of date”! If you think of sales, advertising or call centre work, then four jobs in five years is expected. So when can you quit without impacting your next role?

I do know switching jobs is becoming more common, especially for young workers. In Australia they are predicting that kids who are in school today will now have about 10+ jobs by the age of 38. “Job-hoppers” are becoming the norm and this is due to two reasons: the current economy and outsourcing. The Australian workforce has lost its loyalty since the GFC (or maybe even before) and I feel that it is very hypocritical for employers to ask for longevity when they can (a) downsize and (b) outsource to cheaper markets at a minutes’ notice, leaving you high and dry.

Not all jobs are a perfect fit, but even if you know you’re ready to jump ship, it is usually in your best interest to stick it out for a while. Most employers shy away from job hoppers, so it’s important to avoid that reputation. If you have left your previous role in a speedy manner it is important to stay at your next job for two or three years as this will alleviate any concerns of job hopping.

Perceptions are changing especially with Gen X and Gen Y’s. If you stay in a position for too long you may be considered “stale”, move too soon “job hopper” so my sound advice is think before you leap. If you have a solid reason for changing then by all means do so. Keep in mind we are all allowed a few hiccups along the way and if you have jumped around every six months, jut be prepared to explain each and every job change you have undergone and why!

Alicia Sumich – Group Manager, Business Development

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