There is increasingly a school of thought that employer and employee loyalty is dead and that therefore it is fine to have lots of moves on the CV. Wrong. Here’s why.
Firstly what is acceptable and what isn’t? There is of course no definitive answer. It does depend on what stage of your career you are at: broadly speaking one employer of less than 18 months duration is OK, two is borderline. Three is the wrong side of the line, especially if consecutive.
In these days of portfolio careers and gaining experience why does it matter?
- People DO value loyalty still. Employers don’t expect you to stay a life time but 3-5 years would be nice. The deal is that it may take a year for them to get any real value out of you: so if you leave after 18 months they lose out.
- It suggests you might have realised you made a mistake. One error is fine but multiple is not and casts doubt on your career planning and due diligence
- Sometimes you just don’t fit or get on with people and it’s clearly not working out: it happens! But multiple moves suggest the problem is you not the employer
- Ambition is welcomed but if you have to move on after a short period it suggests a short attention span and unrealistic goals. It can also suggest that the employer doesn’t think you are as good as you do
- People love to see promotions on a CV. If you are with an employer 3-4 years and have been promoted it PROVES that you are valued
- Employer moves are rarely accompanied by career progression. People tend to move sideways (not always of course!) in order to move forwards (better employer/salary/experience/career prospects/ work-life balance etc.). Several moves over short period may indicate a career is stagnating
What to do if your new job isn’t working out
So if you find yourself in a job or employer which you are certain isn’t going to work out (give it at LEAST 6 months: there are often a few doubts and niggles in the first few months) what do you do? If this is your first “problem” move then get out. There is no point hanging around hoping it will get better or trying to make it look good on a CV. BUT do take great care to avoid “frying pan to fire”. Frequently people are so keen to move they are blind to the potential pitfalls of a new opportunity. Your mantra should be “if I were reasonably HAPPY in my current role would I even be considering this option”.
If it’s the second time in a row then if you have any choice in the matter DO try and stay put because making it look good on the CV IS worthwhile.
If it’s worse than that then consider contracting: it might suit you better and there’s always the hope that you can disguise the short moves as contracts (disguise: not lie!). A possible angle which has enough truth to be the right side of the line might be “well I always had in mind that role was going to be pretty short term so it was effectively an interim assignment”!