There are generally two kinds of job seekers: those who’ve had ten jobs in five years, and those who’ve spent the last ten years in the same role.

Now let’s ask: if you’re entering the job market, which is the worst situation to be in?

Most people would probably say that it’s worse to be a job hopper, and they may be right.

But according to research on, staying in a role for more than two years could mean that you earn 50 percent less than those who leave.

This figure shouldn’t be surprising. Most employees will only receive a 3-5% salary increase each year within a single organization. But when you go out into the market to negotiate your salary, you may end up asking for 10-15% more than what you’re currently earning.

If you do this every 3-5 years or so, you can see how these increases could compound.

So having a long job tenure comes with its own costs. Read on to learn more about how this could impact your current and future job prospects.


Is Job Tenure Actually Hurting Your Career?


One of the hallmarks of a great professional is their ability to divide loyalties. While you should have some loyalty to your employer, you also have a responsibility to yourself. If you don’t own your own professional development, no one else will do it for you.

So while your loyalty to your employer may prompt you to stay in a job over the long haul, it’s important to seriously consider what this means to your career long-term.

When many recruiters and hiring managers look at lengthy tenures, it can give them the sense that:

  • You aren’t motivated or driven to achieve
  • You’re too comfortable with the familiar and unable to adapt to a new job, leadership style, or corporate culture
  • You don’t have a diverse enough skill set to thrive in a modern company and economy, simply because employees gain perspective about best practices as they move from one company to another

If you earn a promotion (and a real promotion, not just a job title change) within a company, that can help to soften the blow. In fact, vertical growth is a good sign, because it shows that you’re willing and able to take on new responsibilities and challenges.

But overall, while job tenure comes with significant advantages, there are costs involved. The costs just happen to be long-term; you won’t notice them until you have to get back out and search again.


How Long Should You Stay at a Job?


So that leads us to the million dollar question: how long should you stay at a job?

According to 2018 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some of the most common trends:

  • Workers in management, professional, and related occupations had a median tenure of 5.0 years
  • 22% of workers had tenure of 1 year or less
  • Younger workers were more likely to have a short tenure than older ones; only 9 percent of workers aged 55 to 74 had a tenure of less than 12 months
  • Median tenure for employees aged 55 to 64 (10.1 years) was more than three times that of workers aged 25 to 34 (2.8 years)

In general, three to five years in a job without a promotion is the optimal tenure to establish a track record of success without suffering the negative consequences of job stagnation. Of course, that may vary depending on your specific industry or role.


3 Signs You’ve Stayed in a Job Too Long


Not every problem can be solved with a job switch. Sometimes you need to stick it out and take advantage of all the opportunities that you have in your current organization before moving on.

But staying in a job isn’t always the solution either. There are many good reasons why you should move on to another organization or role. If any of the following red flags pop up, that’s a good sign that it’s time to think about a change.


1. Your job no longer challenges you.


If you end the day with time to spare, that means that you’ve almost certainly mastered your current responsibilities. While it’s great to be confident and knowledgeable, staying there won’t help you grow.


2. There’s no risk associated with your job.


No one likes being on the boss’s bad side. But if you find that you can make a mistake without consequences, odds are that you either are too good at your job, or you’re working for an organization that doesn’t value growth and excellence. Either way, remaining in those environments will cause you to stagnate.


3. It’s hard to justify sticking around.


Health insurance, vacation, and retirement contributions are all important benefits, but they shouldn’t be the sole reason you stick with a job. Other companies offer those same benefits, and they may be able to give you a job that challenges and fulfills you.


Final Thoughts: Is it Time for a New Job?


If you’re wondering whether you should consider a new job, you’re certainly not alone. The market is filled with people who are looking to improve their situation. There’s a good chance that you should join them.

Our recruiters have placed thousands of candidates in great-fit jobs & contractor roles. We would love to help you find your next best opportunity.

Click here to get in touch with a Brightwing recruiter.

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