I’ve often cautioned readers about one size fits all rules. Too much career advice is based on the words always and never. Here’s another example: Stay at a job at least a year before leaving. In most cases, it’s good to do this. However, there are circumstances when we should leave a job as soon as possible.
Mark (not his real name) is a client who received an offer to work for a company everyone would recognize. During his interview, Mark felt uneasy about the person who would be his supervisor. He talked to his family about not taking the job. They told him that he had to take it because working at this company would look good on his resume.
Mark called me after working at his new job for only four months. In that time, his two co-workers had quit because they could not take the boss’s constant belittling and bullying. Both employees went to HR, but nothing was done to change the way they were treated. Mark was worried about how it would look if he left a job before completing at least a year. I told him that it would be a concern for some employers, but he had to weigh that concern against how he was being treated.
Why should anyone stay in such job? Mark’s challenge will be to explain why he is leaving so soon. We talked about how he can do that in a way that doesn’t bring up his boss or his problem with the job. We also discussed how he can present what he has accomplished in his short tenure. A good employer will look beyond how long Mark stayed at this job to see what he has accomplished at other jobs and in school. The worst thing Mark could do is stay in a job where he is exposed to unprofessional treatment. My advice: Why wait eight months? Start looking now.