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Leaving a job in the first 15 months is like erasing years of experience from your resume

Ruth Umoh

Workplace experts seem to have differing opinions when it comes to leaving your job early in your tenure. Some say that short stints at a company no longer reflect poorly, while others advise that you hold a job for at least one year to show a sense of commitment.

But according to a survey by job site TalentWorks, even one year may not be enough.

The study analyzed a random sample of 6,976 applications across 365 U.S. cities and 101 industries and found that applicants who were fired, laid off or quit within the first 15 months of a previous job were 43 percent less hireable when applying to new jobs. The interview callback rate for these candidates was 7.6 percent, compared to 13.4 percent for their counterparts who held a position longer than 15 months.

According to the survey, this is the equivalent of wiping out nearly five years of experience from your resume (averaging across industries and controlling for experience.)

This phenomenon occurs mainly because hiring managers only briefly skim resumes, notes TalentWorks. Other research has shown that recruiters spend less than one minute — if even 30 seconds — scouring a resume.

The job site explains that when employers see that you held a position for a short period of time, a red flag automatically goes up. Hiring managers are more likely to toss your resume and move on to the next one, rather than giving you the benefit of the doubt and thinking "deeply" about why you left — especially if you have extensive job experience.

In fact, the survey found that experienced candidates who leave a company within the first 15 months are dinged much more heavily during the job search. Job seekers with five years of experience, for example, had an interview rate of 16 percent and lost 3.7 years of job experience for every role they left before the 15-month target, whereas applicants with 10 years of experience had a 14.3 percent interview rate, and lost 8.3 years of job experience.

Those with less than two years of experience did not suffer a loss of job experience.


The site offers a few explanations for this trend. Employers have higher expectations for experienced employees. A hiring manager is less likely to care if an entry-level assistant quits within six months because that's an easy position to fill and it doesn't impact the company quite as much. But a marketing director who left their previous job after six months would arouse a hiring manager's suspicions and make the employee seem "flaky."

And although many think that one year at a company is long enough, the data says otherwise: 18 months is the bare minimum, but 24 months is the safest best. This means that if you want to quit or see a possible firing on the horizon, you should try toughing it out for at least a year and a half, suggests the site.


However, if you're laid off, your length of stay at a company may be largely out of your hands, and there are ways to salvage this during the job hunt, according to workplace experts.

First, continue working in the meantime so that you don't have a gap on your resume, says Amanda Augustine, a career advice expert for TopResume. "While job-hunting, they'd rather hear you took a gig driving for Lyft … than to hear you weren't doing anything except applying to jobs during your time off," she tells CNBC Make It .

During the interview, be completely transparent as to why you left and don't fabricate an answer, says bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch . "Turn the conversation towards why you want to join the new company," she advises. "Explain why this job is so right for your skills, your values and your career goals."

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