This is how long it should take to gain new opportunities at work

September 23, 2015, 4:00 PM UTC
Photograph by Getty Images/Cultura RF

The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question: How do you know it’s the right time to switch jobs? is written by Adam Ochstein, founder and CEO of StratEx.

As a CEO, I bring up what we call the social contract during interviews. As the employer, what I’m getting from an employee is his or her talent and hard work, and as an employee, he or she is getting experience, professional growth and development. I don’t expect someone to stay at my company for 25 years and retire with a gold watch. In today’s workforce, that’s not happening as frequently anymore. If employees feel as though they can no longer learn or grow, then they should consider other opportunities — they’re only holding themselves back from excelling professionally if they stay.

How long is long enough? It takes three years on the job to really know whether or not it’s the right fit. Five years is too long, and one is too short. The first six months on a job is the honeymoon stage. Six months to a year is when employees build character and work ethic, and 12 to 18 months is the period they get the opportunity to really settle into the role and grow. During the second year, the employees are hopefully growing and evolving. If not, they should leave.

Not many people land the right job right out of college, especially if they’re not be focusing on the right things. However, if they quit, that’s their one get-out-of-jail-free card. Quitting shouldn’t become a trend — having three jobs on a resume within five years is a red flag to hiring managers.

Here are other reasons to consider a job change:

No trust
If an employee doesn’t trust the leadership or management team, it’s a recipe for failure. Without trust, there is no investment from the employee, and without investing in the work, there’s no passion or loyalty. Employees should trust that their managers want to help them improve and have their best interests at heart. They should be able to trust that what they discuss with managers is confidential, and that they can turn to them with issues — personal or professional.

See also: Here’s how to tell if your job is at risk

No investment
It’s hard for employees to invest in a company that isn’t investing in them. If the company can afford to provide resources but is ignoring an employee’s request, or if managers aren’t investing the time to meet with employees to train them, that will stunt their professional growth and development over time.

No lateral moves available
Employees should consider talking to management about joining a different area of the business — it may be that the employee enjoys working for the company, but not the role. If there aren’t available spots elsewhere, it may be time to look for opportunities elsewhere.

Going back to the social contract, if employees recognize that they can’t move within the organization to grow — whether that’s lateral or upwards — and the opportunity to do so won’t be available for years to come, then they should consider looking elsewhere.


Real all responses to the Leadership Insider question: How do you know it’s the right time to switch jobs?

What a failed negotiation could mean for your career by Shadan Deleveaux, co-founder of Technology For Families in Need.

Why a low paycheck isn’t enough to leave a job by Mike Guerchon, chief people officer at Okta.

This is how long you should wait before quitting a job by Edward Fleischman, chairman and CEO of The Execu|Search Group.

3 signs it’s time to switch jobs by Karen Appleton, SVP of industry at Box.

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