How long is too long at one job? How short is too short? Microsoft's ex-VP of HR explains.


In the last 40 years of my career, including serving as Microsoft's VP of HR, I've noticed a significant shift in job tenures. Initially, the advice was to stay at a job for at least three to five years, perceived as a sign of loyalty and commitment. However, today, prolonged tenures can raise concerns among younger recruiters, who value varied experiences.

The emphasis has shifted from job tenure to accomplishments. Hiring managers now seek individuals who have made an impact on the business, regardless of the length of their tenure. Factors such as leading significant projects, contributing to revenue, profitability, or customer satisfaction, and demonstrating measurable impact have taken precedence.

Job-hopping, once viewed negatively, is now more acceptable given valid reasons such as a poor fit, family-related hiatus, or challenging work environments. Changing jobs can often lead to higher pay, as companies prioritize new hires over internal promotions. However, it comes with the cost of rebuilding networks, and reputation and adapting to new work processes.

Conversely, staying in a role long-term can have its benefits, particularly if one is content with the work and fairly compensated. Building a strong network and reputation within an organization can make tasks easier and more rewarding. It's essential to focus on making a difference in each role, regardless of its length.

In summary, the job market has evolved, recognizing that the impact an individual makes in a role is more critical than the duration of their tenure. Both job-hopping and long-term commitments have their pros and cons, and the key is to prioritize making a meaningful impact wherever one is.  

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