This is a question that I had to do some research on because of my background. I had a job in high school at a retail store. This was my first job and the manager there took a chance that even without my experience, I would be able to do the job well. Throughout college I had a few jobs and did a summer internship. After graduation, I got one of those “big girl job” as an assistant manager at Target. Although on my resume I have it listed for over a year experience (the internship i did with them plus the extra three months I worked there full time) it really was only two summers and a few college breaks worth of work. Mid summer, I couldn’t take that job and quit. A decision I still stand by, but I quit none the less.
After much job search and applying for dozens of positions (and I mean dozens, like 30-40 jobs), I finally landed in education in the HR department. I had no experience in HR but they took me anyway, believing (just like I believed) that I could handle the stress of the job and do a good job. Well, after being there for a year, my position got cut. I planned on staying in that particular job for a while, but I still had to move on.
Now, at my current job, I have been there for about 6 months and I again do not plan on going anywhere. However, after have pretty much every position before this that has believed in my ability, it has made me question the importance of longevity. So now when I search through resumes to bring talent to my company, I very much look over longevity in a job. I’ve had supervisors ask me “do you know why they aren’t working now?” or “why did they skip around jobs so much?”. I never have an answer for them. Dates on a resume is something I kind of overlook because clearly if you can;t tell about, I’ve got a few dates scattered around. So why does it matter?
Turns out job longevity is totally a thing that employers are looking for. Dates on your resume are suppose to stand out for a reason. It can prove to an employer your commitment your current job, which will most likely mean longevity in a new job you will be looking for. I think that makes sense. It would mean that you can stick it out though thick and thin, the good times and the bad. Most employers get it, that not everything will go smoothly everyday at your job. But they need to know that you’re not going to bail or shut down when the going gets tough. If you work somewhere for a few years, it shows them that your able to stick to something. Employers simply cannot invest in training and paying someone (even if they are the most qualified for the job), just to have then quit and start the process all over again.
I think a better way to look at this is to think of the opposite. I’ve had such a luxury really to have people invest in my skills with having less than 1 year experience for my jobs that I really have to think of an extreme opposite of longevity to really get the point. If a waitress has 13 years of experience overall but has had 2 jobs within a year on average, that’s 26 jobs that a person has had in that time frame. You’re looking at about 6 months from this waitress. She might nail the interview and can interact with customers like there is no tomorrow. But after 6 months of working there is a good chance she will move on. It’s a lot about patterns that your resume creates that alludes employers to believe that you will or will not stay. It takes a solid 1-2 months to have someone completely trained and comfortable working independently for most jobs (others of course can take much more or less time). Our waitress example means after time and money from other waitstaff and managers to train her, your only looking at about 4 months of profitable work she will commit to before ducking out of there.
Now I can clearly see how longevity can prove a dedicated employee. I was getting myself so caught up in thinking people are like me, they either really really don’t like a job or they get cut from it. More benefit of the doubt, then holding people accountable for their actions.
So of course I must ask myself, how long is considered a safe time frame? I also asked this in college during a senior year job seminar. The response that I got then and still stand by is a few years. The woman that spoke about this hated her first job. She truly hated it, but she said that she stuck it out for the first year, and actually found another opportunity from a co worker because she stayed dedicated to the position. Her ability not to give up really pushed her to a better place. Furthermore she recommended that if you like your job, stay in it for a few years and see how much you can excel. Maybe you’ll find that your supervisor will give you more responsibility the longer you are there, meaning more experiences to add to the resume.
My take away from all of this….. it’s okay to move onward and upward, but I want to take my time now to absorb everything I can at my current job. I want my resume to reflect a pattern of dedication, growth and creativity. I can accomplish that right where I am. At the end of the day, achieving those things now, will make me happier at my job during my daily grind. No, I don’t plan on going anywhere but it’s good to keep this in the back of my head and remember my drives.
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