What Job Longevity Indicates

Ever wonder what a given span of years in one company on your resume means when you’re considered for another position? While a number of other factors — experience in particular skills or soft skills, for example — might be ultimately more significant, there definitely is an unofficial evaluation on the part of hiring managers regarding the time people have spent in their previous positions and what that means.

Job longevity is scrutinized on resumes along with profiles and objectives.

Employees Shouldn’t Leave Too Soon…

Staying at a job for under one year, for instance, could be viewed negatively. It could mean that the person’s skills do not measure up or that the corporate fit is not only suboptimal but actively poor. It may be viewed as indicating poor choices on the employee’s part in accepting the job, leaving earlier than reasonable, or both.

Staying in a position less than one year might also be viewed as a sign of a job-hopper in the making. Thirty-nine percent of recruiters think that job-hopping or leaving too soon is the largest obstacle to job-seekers obtaining new employment.

The only time that a tenure of under one year in a job will not run the risk of negative judgment is if the company decided upon layoffs for strategic or economic reasons. In that case, the employee bears no responsibility.

Lack of reasonable longevity affects employers because the time and effort they have put into onboarding and training can’t be fully amortized by a short tenure. It’s therefore not a good business strategy to choose someone whose record indicated that they may not return the investment.

…or Too Late

So when can employees leave a job without their longevity running the risk of a negative judgment?

Four years is generally considered fine. It means that employees have done good quality work and performed consistently over a period of time, simply because poor employees are terminated by then. Any costs and efforts involved in their onboarding and training have resulted in a competent and stable employee.

It is possible, though, to receive an implicit negative judgment for staying too long in one company. If employees have been doing the same job without receiving a promotion or better assignments for six years or more, they could be viewed as adequate performers, not stellar ones. It could also be seen as a lack of interest in expanding one’s responsibilities or driving a successful career.

Employees who are comfortable with where they are and what they are doing should be aware of potential negative judgments they could arise if their resume shows a six-year or longer tenure. It’s prudent to accept or proactively seek expanded responsibilities and new challenges.

If you’ve ever wondered how the lengths of time on a resume matter, it’s important to know that either too little time or too much without change may affect your chances of getting a job.