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How much time should you spend in a job?

Posted by: James Cant

The world of work has changed, and we’ve got the data to prove it. The stats show that, on average, Baby Boomers spent 20 years in one job. Nowadays, Millennials are expected to have 30 jobs over the course of their working life, which means they may only stay in a job for 18 months.

With this becoming the norm, it raises several questions. For example, what if an amazing opportunity comes up but you’ve only been in your current role for a short period of time? What would potential employers think about how long you’ve been in the job for? And, how much time should you spend in a job?

Being in the world of recruitment where we deal with people moving jobs every day, we want to give you some answers and reassurance. The truth is there’s no magic number to the length you should be at a company for. It may seem like staying in a job for too short or too long a time could give a negative impression to potential employers – but it’s not as simple as that.

Many industries view longevity differently. If you’re a contract Drilling Engineer in the energy sector, most hiring managers want to see that you’ve worked there for at least 2 to 3 years as it indicates that you’re reliable and not jumping ship for better paid opportunities. On the other hand, being a Chief Engineer in the maritime industry where you’re working on a vessel, it’s common place to change contracts every six to twelve months due to the length of the offshore project.

Quality over quantity

Future employers are more likely to look at what you’ve done and achieved than at your length of service, so bear that in mind when writing your CV. You’ll go through different phases, whether this is your first job out of University and you want to gain experience before moving onto the next opportunity, or you’ve landed the job of your dreams and you want to progress your career within the organisation. 

Should you stay or should you go?

You spend so much time of your day at work so it’s important that you don’t stay in a role that’s not right for you just because you feel like you should. Staying in a job for the wrong reasons could be just as harmful for yourself and your current employer as jumping ship.

If you’re considering leaving your role, then take time to think carefully and weigh up the choice. If you believe that you can progress in your job, it makes sense to stay. If not, a change could be the best way to grow. If you feel unchallenged and don’t get the recognition you deserve for your hard work, leaving a job earlier is totally acceptable.

Talking about your length of service at interview

Whether you stay in a job for a long time or a short time, you should be able to talk confidently to potential employers about your tenure and why you decided to leave. Interviewers aren’t there to judge your choices but will look for someone authentic who made a careful, calculated decision with genuine reasons.

Making sure you show the potential employers what kept you at the employer and ensuring all the positives are clear are equally important. It doesn’t reflect well on your or the organisation if you spend your time in the interview complaining about your old boss.

And remember, what matters to you is what’s right for you. Showing that you’ve spent a long period of time in a job can help employers feel more comfortable but it’s not the only thing that counts.
If you’re still left with reservations about leaving your current job and embarking on a new challenge, then why not give us a call to discuss it? You speak to a dedicated Recruiter with specialist knowledge of the Energy, Mining or Marine sectors, who’ll be able to offer you an insight into the job market. We talk to people about new opportunities every day so, trust us, we know our stuff and can guide you while you through this important decision.


WRS is a global workforce solutions and mobilisation company, specialising in the mining, maritime, construction, commodities, IT and energy industries. If you are considering your next move, register your details, send us your CV or you can simply take a look at our latest vacancies.

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