IP:117.* * *
"I took an entry-level job and love the work and experience I've gained, but am frustrated by the disorganized management. Also, I've been told I can't ask for more money. I know now I can get a new job with more pay, but will leaving within a year hurt my professional reputation?"
The answer is, "it depends," but not for the reason you think.
It's Not How Long You Stayed, It's Why You Left.
When we choose to leave a new job before our year anniversary, it sends the message, "Something's wrong. Terribly wrong." Especially, in the current economic climate where unemployment is higher and people are clamoring for jobs. That means, you better have a really, REALLY good explanation as to why you need to leave. In my experience, saying the work was great but you didn't like management or the pay won't go over well with employers. To them, it sounds a bit selfish and needy. Not to mention, they'll question your ability to be patient or be a good team player. So, you are wise to be concerned about how leaving this soon will appear.
Now, I know you aren't an impatient, selfish, needy, employee who can't play nice in teams, but you have to put yourself in the employer's shoes: They don't like hearing people are unhappy in a job after less than a year. It implies impatience and lack of appreciation for the employer who was kind enough to hire you. Plus, you're getting paid to do work you actually like (most people hate their first entry-level job), so they'll question why can't you put up with a little disorganization? And speaking of pay, most companies work on an annual review basis, so asking for more sooner doesn't work for their budgets.
So, what's the solution? There's actually a way for you to look like a smart professional for deciding to leave your job before the year's out.
Don't Make It About Money or Management - Make It About Marketability!
When you make the decision to leave an employer in less than a year, you need to be able to sell yourself to new potential employers. As I outlined above, criticizing the pay or management of your current employer isn't going to impress them. Focus instead on the real reason: you fear you won't be marketable in the future if you don't proactively move your career forward now. In short, show them you are a business-of-one who knows it's up to you to stay relevant and employable long-term. That's something they can respect (and pay good money for), regardless of how long you were at your last job.
Here's What to Say
When asked why you want to leave before a year is up, try this:“It's a tough decision to leave this great company. I love the work I am doing. However, it's been made clear to me there is no room for me to grow my skills and become more valuable as a professional. My fear is if I stay, I will become less marketable down the line. I want to move to a company where I can take my skills and abilities to the next level and create even more value for my employer. That way, I know I can stay relevant to the marketplace and keep my employer happy.”
Focus them on your desire to be better, not on your desire to get more and you'll present yourself in the right fashion.
PS - Don't Make a Habit of It
If you do decide to leave and get a new job, make sure you accept one you know you can stay in for at least two years. You do not want to start jumping jobs every year. That will make you look bad in the long run. So, choose carefully and be sure where you land next is a place where you can stay and grow for two anniversaries at least!