How Long Should You Stay in a Job?

The length of time that someone stays in a role is declining year-on-year. According to our research, 20% of employees across FTSE businesses stay in a role between one and two years and the average UK employee turnover rate is around 15%.

While in the past workers would look to stay in a role for an extended period, a shift in working attitudes means more and more people are ‘job-hopping’. During 2023, there were over 40,000 searches for ‘resignation letter template’ each month, highlighting just how many professionals are constantly looking for new opportunities.

Finally, statistics suggest that more than 1-in-10 people have never stayed with the same employer for more than a year. Modern professionals are always looking to improve their position, increase their salary or develop their skill set, which a new role often facilitates.

So as the professional landscape shifts, how long should you stay in a job?

How long should you stay at a job role?

Fundamentally, how long you stay in a job role depends on your individual circumstances. The amount of time you remain in a role depends on your goals, your attitude to the work environment and the competitiveness of your market.

A key milestone that many people use as a signpost is their position. Promotion is usually the main goal for professionals as it means potential for salary increases, career development and further advancement. If your employer isn’t actively promoting from within or offering the potential for advancement, you may want to consider a lateral move. 

Businesses often speak about length of time in terms of staying within a position. While there’s no specific rules around how long you should be in a role, it’s generally agreed that two to three years is enough time to establish a network, develop experience and build your skill set.

Likewise, two years is a reasonable duration to start expecting advancement, providing you with a window to start considering a lateral move to another role.

Should you constantly move job roles?

There’s a growing school of thought around spending less time in one role and finding new challenges across different businesses. By consistently moving between roles, you give yourself the opportunity to re-evaluate your market worth, build more experience in different settings and develop a much more varied skill set.

While the average employee spends 3 years in a role, it should be noted that 1 out of 5 employees never stay with an employer for more than 2 years and this number has increased significantly over the last twenty years.

Ultimately you should be taking new opportunities based on your goals, your own intuition around your career development and your own relationship with the workplace.

Just remember that many employers still have a negative attitude to ‘job hopping’ and working in a role for less than a year may actually have a negative impact on your chances of finding a new job.

While culture shifts mean this is less of an issue, there are still potential drawbacks to leaving a role after a few months. An employer may see you as a flight risk and be less inclined to invest resources to train you. Generally you want to highlight that you’re committed to improving the business, regardless of how long you stay there.

Take a look at our vacancies.

Ready to find a new role? Browse the vacancies we have available below.

What to consider before you leave a job

If you’re asking yourself ‘how long should I stay in this role’, there are some follow-up questions you may want to think about before making the leap: 

Is switching roles going to advance your career?

As we mentioned, leaving a job is generally done because there’s no room for development or the employee feels unmotivated.

The most important question to ask yourself is, will this move be a positive step for my career? Take the time to research your potential new role and company. If the new business is much more proactive about advancement and promotion, it’s probably a great lateral move.

How am I going to find a new role?

It’s important to perform all of your due diligence when you’re considering moving job roles. If you’re going to switch businesses, how are you going to go about it? Do you have a potential role lined up? Do you have support in your job search?

This is where working with a recruiter can vastly improve your chances of success. Whether you’ve already worked with an agency or it’s your first time, the experience and market knowledge of a recruitment consultant can ensure you’re taking a step in the right direction.

Am I leaving for the right reasons?

Fundamentally, if you’re leaving a role, are you doing it for the right reasons? As an example, moving for a better salary won’t necessarily equate to a positive career step and might be a wasted move in the long-term.

Ultimately, you’ll want to think about how the move aligns with your career goals and whether you’d be better off trying to improve your situation with your current employer. This is where communication is vital, particularly with your existing business.

Find Your Next Job Today.

We're ready to help you find your dream role. Contact us today.