There’s no such thing as a job for life anymore. Recent data from the ABS shows that 54% people have been employed in their current job for less than 5 years, with a significant amount of job mobility in sectors such as hospitality, mining, retail and IT. So, how long should you stay in a role? What’s the advantage of staying put? And can you put a positive spin on job-hopping?

Should you stay or should you go?

Staying in a role for a few years (or more) can be positive for a number of reasons. It can provide you with the opportunity—and time—to develop and use new skills, work towards your goals and achieve success. On your resume, job tenure also shows loyalty and commitment to an organisation, which will enhance your potential appeal to potential recruiters. No-one wants to invest on recruiting and training a new employee only to see them leave after six months. But what if your role is not ticking all the right boxes? Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself:

  • Is there scope to learn new skills and use them in your role?
  • Do you feel that you are achieving your potential?
  • Are you acknowledged for your contribution to your role/the organisation?
  • Are you sufficiently rewarded for your work?
  • Do you feel supported by your team/management?
  • Do you have a good work-life balance?
  • Do you have opportunities for a lateral move/promotion in the organisation?

If the answer is “no” to any of the above, it could be time to move on. First, though, consider whether your needs and expectations can be met in your current role and organisation. Sometimes, it can seem easier not to address the tough questions. Before you jump ship, discuss your concerns with your manager. You may be able to find a solution.

To job-hop or not to job-hop?

That is the question. Sometimes, staying in the same role for a few years just isn’t possible. Perhaps you’re a casual worker who has been stood down or is needing more hours. Or maybe you realise you’ve made the wrong career choice two months into a role and can’t stick it out any longer. Moving on after less than a year on the job is acceptable, although if you make a habit of it, recruiters will be seeing red flags. Try to overcome their hesitancy – before interview – by explaining your move(s) in a carefully worded cover letter. It’s best to avoid any negatives, such as personality clashes with your manager, and instead highlight your commitment to your next role.

There is no hard-and-fast rule about how long you should stay in a job. Yes, you’re more likely to stay put if you feel valued and rewarded by an organisation. Conversely, moving on after a few months for a valid reason should not stand against you, especially if it’s a one-off. A job may not be for life anymore, but every individual should have the opportunity to shape a career that meets their wants, needs and aspirations throughout their working life.

For information on how we can help shape your career, contact the Optimal Recruitment team on or 02 8416 4181.