The official blog of Abacus Group — a place to share our knowledge and thoughts on trends in recruiting

April 02, 2019

How Long is Too Long to be at the Same Company


Most members of the workforce used to have the mentality that once you attain a steady job, you should stay at that company, slowly climbing the management ladder, until retirement. However, this is no longer the outlook that people have. According to Monster.com, “The median tenure of workers ages 25 to 34 is 2.8 years, compared to 10.1 years of workers ages 55 to 64.” Although people are eager to work for a variety of companies throughout their career, this shift in thinking has resulted in an unprecedented conundrum. Many employees are now asking “How long is too long to be at the same company?”

According to Terina Allen, Human Resources expert and Forbes columnist, 4 years in is a good time to start looking, so you will be in your next position before the 5-year mark. However, if you have grown within the company and are now in your second position, the time to start looking outside your organization is postponed until 6 to 8 years after your original start date, depending on when you were promoted. Allen’s belief is echoed by many other professionals, as well as reflected by the national average of 4.2 years, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Although 4 years is a good benchmark to keep in mind, the signs that it is time to begin your search might start to show before. One indicator that it is time to look for a new job is when you no longer feel challenged in your current position. Staying in a role that feels boring or mundane can result in you no longer learning or staying up-to-date within your field. Another sign that you should be looking for a new position is if you feel like there is no room for growth within your current company. If outside hires are being brought in for positions that you could have been promoted to, reaching that higher role might be more easily attained at another company. However, it is important not to leave your current position too soon after starting, a year and a half should be the bare minimum, as it will be a red flag for those reviewing your resume in the future.

At the end of the day, when deciding if it is time to move on, you know what’s best for you and your career trajectory. If you feel like your current position is becoming mundane and the opportunity to be promoted isn’t there, start looking for a job that will excite you. If, even after 5 years, you still feel challenged in your role, keep growing at your current company. There isn’t one right answer, but make your 4 year work anniversary a reminder to evaluate where you are and what you want to come next.

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