Every third Thursday of the month, we answer questions submitted to us from Kansas City area job seekers and employers. This week, Senior Recruiter in our Information Technology Division Josh Mugge answers a question from an anonymous job seeker.
How soon can I leave a job without it looking bad on my resume?
Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer to this question. It varies greatly from industry-to-industry. For example, the average tenure for an IT professional at Google is 1.9 years. For Facebook, it’s 2.2 years — and that’s considered a long retention rate in Silicon Valley. Conversely, other industries, like human resources or accounting, may view anything less than 1-2 years as too short.
It also depends on the company you’re looking to leave. If that organization has a bad reputation in the industry, other employers may forgive your early departure. The same can be said for organizational leadership — if your boss is known for their volatile management style, other hiring managers will be more understanding if you’re exploring other opportunities.
Your profession and job title are also factors. If your role is in high demand, a shorter stint at a job is more palatable.
Of course, there are many acceptable reasons for leaving a job early, like a hostile working environment or harassment. But in general, I advise my candidates to give it six months to one year before they decide to jump ship. Things could seem rough in the beginning of a job, but most of the time it gets better. You learn how to work with your new coworkers, get used to the management style of your new boss, and eventually, things start to come together.
Sometimes, though, you find that your new job just isn’t for you. Life’s too short to be unhappy at work. You spend more time at work than with your family, so it doesn’t make sense to be miserable at your job.
If you decide that you must leave your new job early, here are a few guidelines to follow:
Don’t make it a habit
One short job on your resume isn’t a big deal. But, if there’s a pattern of early exits, it will raise big red flags for potential employers.
Have an acceptable excuse
“I hate it there” isn’t a good reason to tell a hiring manager why you want to leave your job. Better reasons to leave your new job early would be:
- No growth opportunities
- Hostile working environment
- Job wasn’t as described in the job description
Work with a recruiter
Most hiring managers will be understanding of your reasons for leaving a job early. But, you may not get a chance to explain yourself. The hiring manager will only have your resume to go from in the beginning. If they see that you’ve only been there six months, there’s a good chance you won’t be brought in for an interview — unless you have someone on your side to explain your situation.
A recruiter can be your biggest advocate. When I present candidates with short stints on their resumes, I can easily explain away any concerns they may have about my candidates’ desire to move on so soon. Sometimes, having that extra help with your job search can make all the difference.