Is Less Than a Year Too Soon to Switch Jobs?

Peggy interviews for new job
We received the following questions below from Rosemary (not her real name), 29, who is working as a librarian in a medical context, but wants to make the switch to an academic library. She asked a question that many people worry about: Is it too soon to switch jobs?

I have a question about changing jobs after less than a year in my current position. After eight months of unemployment after moving for my spouse’s job, I took a job that was in my field and that I am qualified for, but it’s not with the kind of organization that I’d like to be working at. I’ve been here nine months now, and have learned that the environment here is somewhat toxic—one person quit because she couldn’t deal with being undermined constantly by some of the more seasoned employees. There is not a lot of professional development or innovation happening, and I feel that it’s a poorly managed department. That said, I’m full-time salaried and the pay is okay and benefits are good.

There’s an open position at a place that is the kind of organization I would love to work for, in my same field, and closer to my home (my commute now is not ideal). Even though the position is less than full-time, I am considering applying for a couple of reasons: a) the hourly rate is higher so I’d take about a 15% pay cut for a 25% decrease in hours that wouldn’t greatly affect my livelihood (see spouses job we moved for) and b) It would give me experience/a foot in the door at this type of organization (which can be kind of hard to break into).

My main reservation is that it would look bad on my resume to go from full- to part-time, and to leave a job after 10 or 11 months (by the time I go through the application process, if I’m considered).

What do you think?

— Rosemary

Hi Rosemary,

You should definitely apply for the other job!

First, an application is not the same thing as actually taking the job. Applying and interviewing is a perfect way to gain more information about the organization. Ideally, you will apply and interview—and you’ll learn more about the job and organization and make sure you actually want to work there (e.g. that you’re not moving into another toxic situation that you will want to quickly leave). You can also assess if there is potential for this to become a full-time job (if that is your goal).

Second, if you are offered the new position, by the time you actually leave, it will be close to a year at your current place. We think this is a respectable amount of time, and is easily explained considering the switch in focus areas. It won’t look bad on a resume—especially since there is a career-related reason behind it (in this case, wanting to work for this specific kind of organization) beyond just being unhappy in your current position.

Finally, we don’t think that planning for future career moves is a good reason to stay at a job if the environment is toxic! We understand your concern that moving around a lot doesn’t look good, but if you move somewhere that you are thinking you’ll stay for a while (assuming the organization thinks this too, something to ask during the interview), then it’s just a one time blip. Also, if you have some longer previous positions on your resume, then we really wouldn’t worry about it much at all.

The most important thing is that you can craft a story about your history, and moving towards the type of organization that you want to work for is a good story to tell. If someone moves positions too much, then employers will wonder if the problem is the employee, rather than their jobs—but you don’t seem close to this level of concern.

Good luck with your application!

 

The Grindstone” is a series about how we work today by Billfold writers Leda Marritz and Stephanie Stern. Looking for advice? Want to see a specific issue covered in the future? You can email them here.

Steph Stern works in energy and environmental policy in the San Francisco Bay Area. She writes about careers and life choices at Small Answers (or follow on Twitter: @smallanswers).

Leda Marritz lives in San Francisco. You can read more of her writing at smallanswers.us.

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