The “Less Than 1 Year” Rule for Jobs Needs to Go
I was just reading Tim Denning’s recent story on how he wasn’t hired because he was at one job less than a year. That lit a fire in me. In college, I had a teacher who said, “Always stay at a job for one year, minimum. Less than one year looks really bad.”
She had worked for two employers over the last 20 years. Which is great! But that’s not the way things work anymore.
Millennials tend to job-hop, but it’s not because we can’t settle down. Employers no longer value longevity. The 401(k) has replaced the employer-funded pension. After the economic recession in 2008, many people lost their jobs, and learned the hard way that companies have no loyalty to their employees, seeing them as expendable. Often, the only way to get a raise is to switch jobs.
So why do employers balk if someone had a short bout at a job? After all, a year is a long time, and a lot can happen. Seasonal work can end. People may have to move. Layoffs can occur, hitting newest employees first.
And, sometimes, a job is just horrible, and people would rather leave for greener pastures than stick to an arbitrary guideline, and be miserable.
I stayed in one job for only a few months. Working there was, without a doubt, my worst job ever.
When I started, I was excited. The pay was great, and for the first time, I was offered benefits like health insurance. But it came with a catch: they were extremely short staffed. Having to stay hours after your shift ended was normal. Working a 16 hour shift, two or three days in a row, was seen as being a team player.
And I could never get a day off. Even unpaid. The reason given was always “not enough coverage.”
This quickly affected my personal life. I was stressed and exhausted. The final straw was when I asked for a day off six months in advance for an important event — denied. I was told to reschedule the event. The short staffing became a self-fulfilling prophecy, because I found a job with a better work-life balance, and left.
The rest of my jobs, before and after, lasted one year to six years (and counting).
Yet, I hit the “but it needs to be a year!” wall with one potential employer. I was sitting through an excruciating phone interview. Even though the job was local, the HR person worked hours away, and was not familiar with my area. She was going line by line down my resume. I had to describe all of my jobs and the cities they were in, because she’d never heard of them.
Then, she reached the line with the job I left after a few months. I explained why I quit and why it wasn’t a good fit, but emphasized that this was unusual and I didn’t expect to do that again.
“I think that will disqualify you,” she said. “I mean, I’m not 100 percent sure, but I can ask. I’m about 97 percent sure. My supervisor hates when people work at jobs for a short time.”
Okay, I thought, why am I doing a phone interview if there’s only a 3% chance you’ll hire me?
Then she described the job, which was completely different from the posted ad. I told her I was no longer interested, since the job didn’t match what I had applied for, and ended the interview. Good riddance.
Employers need to look at the whole picture. If someone’s worked for five different employers for six months each, well, they may not stay for awhile. But problems with jobs happen. Rather than scrutinize each job-seeker’s past, make your jobs the ones people will want to stay in.