The Incredible Shrinking Career Timeline

Gone are the days of staying in your first job for 10 years. Millennials are known for their job-hopping ways, and companies have adjusted accordingly—but moving around too much can still be risky.

Korn Ferry CEO Gary Burnison advises recent college graduates to think of their career in one-year-to-18-month increments. Rather than worrying about finding your ideal position right out of school, he says grads should go into each job with a short-term plan for how they'll use it to get closer to the goal.

"Any job is a good job, provided you're learning," the author of Lose the Resume, Land the Job says. "So, I would tell [recent graduates] to step in and have a 12 to 18 month horizon for each new job, even if it's not necessarily their dream job."

He says the mistake most young people make is that they sprint through their early careers, staying in different jobs for just a few months in hopes of quickly finding the perfect position next.

"You are just starting a marathon," he says. "So you shouldn't have the mindset that you have to find a dream job right away. The most important thing is that you are learning and growing."

Job-hopping isn't frowned upon as much by employers today as it used to be, but bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch agrees with Burnison that you should wait at least a year before leaving a position. "Anything under that—especially if it's happening over and over again—is a red flag to a hiring manager," she says.

Welch explains that you do have wiggle room to leave a job sooner if you stayed at a previous company for an extended period of time. For example, if you stayed in a position for five years, then you have flexibility to have a six-month or eight-month job stint on your resume. "Think of it as a kind of equation," she says. "You can 'flit' a bit, but only if you've stayed a bit, too."

Hiring managers understand that you may not be with their company years down the road, but they want to know that you will stay with them long enough to help them build and grow. "They get that jobs don't last forever anymore," she says, "but they don't want to go through the arduous process of finding someone, training them, and getting them up and running, only to have them flit onto the next cool thing."

 

A version of this article ran on CNBC.com.

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  • Gary Burnison

    Chief Executive Officer

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