First Job Jitters: How Long Should You Stay at Your First Job?

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First Job Jitters: How Long Should...
Jun 2, 2023 8 min read

Your first job is an amazing opportunity to learn, grow, and set goals. All this - for free. Even better - you get paid monthly for your time.

However, we live in the era of social media. We are constantly bombarded by people living according to the latest get-rich-quick trends.

What’s more, there seem to be endless opportunities - working from home is not enough when you can work from a beach in Bali or get paid for posting your OOTD on social media… You know the drill.

But don’t let these trends fool you. There are other things that should be considered before you make the decision to quit your first job.

For instance, the value your first job brings to you or the impact it has on your life.

Let’s dive deeper!

Step #1: Understanding the value of your first job

Your first job can have an immense impact on your life. Depending on the job you choose, your life can take surprising turns.

Let’s imagine you’re a management graduate. You can choose to work in consulting, where you’ll face frequent travel and long working days, but also get promoted at least every couple of years.

Or you can choose to work as an analyst in a small private company and have a better work-life balance but also less exposure to growth opportunities.

Or you can go in a completely different direction - work as a waiter or waitress in a beach bar in Costa Rica, chasing sunsets, but with no linear career path in front of you.

The possibilities are endless. And depending on the choice you have already made, the value of your first job can differ.

So, start by assessing whether your first job is in an area you want to grow in.

If it is, then it would be worth staying at it for at least 6 months or even a year.

In this way, you will reap multiple fruits. More specifically, you will:

  • gain valuable experience that will help you find a good second job
  • build a professional network that can serve you in the future
  • learn the ins and outs of the specific field or industry, thus becoming a real expert.

And while it’s normal for you to want to earn more, be more, and know more, it’s worth staying in one place in order to dive deeper into the sea of industry knowledge.

Your future employer will value this.

However, if your first job is in an industry in which you don’t see your future self thriving, then it may be time to go for something else.

Once you’ve understood the value of your first job, it’s time to look at how satisfied you are with it.

Step #2: Assessing your job satisfaction

Take a pen and a piece of paper and reflect on the following questions:

  • Do you feel motivated to do your work?
  • Are there enough things that inspire you about your job?
  • What about your daily responsibilities - are they related to something that piques your interest, or do they make you feel bored?
  • Do you feel like you belong in your team?
  • Do the company values resonate with you?
  • And if you really care about your own values - do you feel like you can share and discuss them with other team members freely?
  • Lastly, what are the opportunities for growth within the company? Can you expect to grow and move up to more senior positions, or are you doomed to be stuck in one role for a while?

In addition to answering these questions, we advise you to also think about your own dreams and desires.

It’s not a bad thing if your current role inspires you and you enjoy it so much, you want to stay there for years and years - even if there are no prospects for growth.

However, if you want to grow to a new position, but are having second thoughts about your development opportunities within the company, then treat this as a red flag.

Another thing to consider is related to the skills you need and also the skills you acquire in your job.

Is your current job providing you with enough experience? Do you see yourself growing, both as an individual and as a professional? Are you learning new things and mastering new skills?

In short, you need to determine whether your current job is aligned with your career goals.

If it’s not, it shouldn’t take you long before you make the decision to start a new job hunt.

And regardless of whether you’ve made the decision to quit your first job already or are still trying to figure things out, considering the current job market is a must.

Step #3: Considering the job market and your career goals

Once you’ve assessed your job satisfaction and measured it against your career goals, it’s time to research what other opportunities the job market holds for you.

Make sure to always have the long term in mind.

Even if your job is not something you’d like to do your entire life, staying at it for a bit longer can benefit your career in the long term.

Realistically speaking, if you’re very early in your career and it’s only been a couple of months since you started your first job… Then finding a new one might prove to be more difficult than we’d like it to be.

But it all depends on the job market. If there are multiple junior roles open and you believe you’d be a great fit for some of them, then quitting your current job might look easy…

Yet, it’s worth remembering - the inspiration that comes with starting a new job is great, but you need discipline to smash your career goals.

And since you’re contemplating leaving your first job, it might be useful to know that you’re not alone.

To be precise, 72% of Gen Z employees and 66% of millennials share that they’re considering a career change in the next year… Compared to only 30% of baby boomers.

It’s obvious - career trends change. But the importance of smart, well-thought-out decisions is ever-lasting.

If you’re still wondering whether it’s time to start looking for a new job, talking to your manager or mentor might help.

Step #4: Talking to your manager or mentor

Discussing your concerns with your manager is a good idea. It can help you get a better understanding of what your future would look like if you stayed in the company.

What’s more, taking the time to share more about your career goals will align your vision with the plans of your manager.

For instance, let’s imagine you want to put more emphasis on work-life balance, but at the same time can’t escape the routine of early mornings and late nights at the office.

You might love your job but struggle because of this one factor.

In this case, communicating your desires with your employer might help. It’s worth the shot.

And if your doubts are related to slow career advancement or low pay, you might still want to bring this up.

Asking for feedback on your performance will prove your curiosity and willingness to learn to your employer. If you get positive feedback, then it’d be only natural for you to ask for a promotion or a pay raise.

Just keep in mind that in most cases, this opportunity would be entirely dependent on the company’s financial situation.

If you know things are not going too well financially, then asking for a raise might leave a bad taste in your manager’s mouth. So think twice before bringing this up.

And if you’re lucky enough to have a mentor to talk to, do this! Getting advice from a more experienced other is always a good idea.

Step #5: Making a decision

Once you’ve understood the value of your first job, assessed your satisfaction with it, considered the job market, and talked to your manager, it’s time to make a decision.

If you’re still unsure what to do, make a list. Weigh the pros and cons of staying and leaving your first job.

Write down all the things that you love, like, and even hate. See which of the bad ones you can tolerate and which of the good ones outweigh them.

Consider your other options carefully. Talk to your friends, family, and maybe even a past teacher that knows you well enough.

Look at the situation from all angles. And don’t wait until you’re ready.

And remember - there is no perfect timing for the decision to quit. Staying and leaving might be equally scary.

How long should you stay at your first job: the conclusion

Feeling valuable at your job is the most important thing to some.

To others, it’s a high wage that keeps them motivated.

And it might be the case that you’re one of the people who need to have a proper work-life balance.

So if the rule ‘stay at your first job for a year’ doesn’t resonate with you, don’t follow it.

Have your own unique recipe for success. Just make sure to assess your situation thoroughly before making a decision.

And if all this examination has led you to the decision to quit your first job, then it’s time to craft a job-winning resume.

Having only one job to list on it might look tricky. But that’s exactly when our career counselors come to the rescue!

Book a call and get help with building your resume, finding suitable jobs, and landing an interview! Yes, it can be as easy as it sounds.

Make your move!
Your resume is an extension of yourself.
Make one that's truly you.
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Volen Vulkov
Volen Vulkov is a resume expert and the co-founder of Enhancv. He applies his deep knowledge and experience to write about a career change, development, and how to stand out in the job application process.
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