One Year is Not Enough

In a recent conversation with a coworker, we were discussing the fact that some people had been working at our company for over 30 years. We moved from there to the other side of the story, in which there were some people who had really short stays at the company, working there for between 6 and 12 months. I then commented that the first year at a company doesn’t really count.

In fact, I continued, if you work at a company for less than a year, people think of how long you’ve been at the company in months, and are therefore a newcomer. You don’t know how the company operates (true or not), and you haven’t established your credibility and expertise yet. Once you cross that one year mark, things change, and you start to be accepted as though you’ve always been working there.

When looking for another job, a one-year stint at a company on your resume will immediately raise the question as to why you were there for only a year. While there are a few good answers (the company was bought out, I moved to another city), most are not. At only a year, it’s unlikely that you reached the limits of your potential at the company – if you did, it raises the questions of why you elected to work at a company with such a short career path.

The sweet spot is somewhere between two years, at which point you could have established yourself in the company, and 7 to 10 years, by which point you run the risk of being trapped in your seniority.

Yes, there can be such a thing as staying at a job too long. Many jobs have benefits and perks that come along with seniority. At the point that the value of those perks makes a jump, it can be difficult to make the decision to leave the job for a new position, in the process giving up those benefits that you spent years working your way toward.

When looking at your career path, make sure that the stops and pauses along the way are long enough to gain the benefits and lessons of the stop, but not so long that you appear to have become a permanent fixture there.