Do employers expect or require candidates to stay long term if a job is not listed as seasonal or temporary? Is it acceptable for one to apply with the intention of leaving within a few months?

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    If this is your situation, I would suggest looking for contract work. – Eric Wilson Mar 24 '14 at 19:12
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    You are asking something which really is not able to be answered definitively, since everyone will have different opinions on "what is acceptable" here. You could ask what generally is considered to be appropriate professional conduct by employers or how this will affect a future job search? – enderland Mar 25 '14 at 21:03
  • @Jim G. - There are at least 15 similar questions on TW -- workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/linked/1810?lq=1 -- and none of them are closed with the "opinion-based" excuse. Why pick on this one? – Martin F Apr 7 '14 at 19:35

Some employers require you to stay a minimum period to help pay for the initial hiring expense. These initial expenses could include training or relocation expenses. If you don't stay until the end of the specified period you will be required to pay all or part of those initial expenses.

Some employers have the opposite approach, they have a initial period of evaluation where it is easy for either party to end the employment. They may decide you aren't a good fit for the position, or you may decide that the conditions aren't to your liking.

Otherwise they are expecting that their new hires will stay long enough for a decent return on investment. But they have no idea which ones will not workout.

The question you have to ask yourself is how likely are you to leave at that particular date. If you know 100% that you will be leaving then you will essentially be lying to the employer by not telling them this fact. If the odds you are leaving are much much lower, then you are probably OK by not telling them.

Telling them you will be leaving in a few months may automatically remove you from consideration for many positions. They have the right to factor this information into their hiring decision. Because every new employee goes though a period of time where their performance is below average, not staying long enough means that they never get a return on their investment, plus they have to redo the hiring process to refill your slot.

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    Surely the fee for an early exit (1st para) has to be part of an agreed contract? Else, i cannot see that it could be legal. – Martin F Mar 25 '14 at 2:24

Do employers expect/require to stay long term

In general, employers hire people who they expect to be around for a while.

There are a few exceptions:

  • The nature of the job itself or the industry is such that turnover is constant and not unusual.
  • When you and the employer agree up front that the job duration is expected to be short.
  • When the job is seasonal or temporary (and you have indicated this is not the case).

Is it acceptable to apply with the intention of leaving within a few months?

Let's assume the job doesn't fall into the exception categories above.

Are you willing to tell the interviewers that you will be leaving within a few months? If not, then many (including me) would consider this action unacceptable.

Are you willing to let this be a part of your "permanent record" on your resume, and explain to future employers why you took this job when you planned to leave so soon? If not, then many (including me) would consider this action unacceptable.

But "acceptable" is something you need to decide for yourself, using your own conscience as a guide. It's your reputation, you are in control.

In general, I hire employees for the long term - otherwise I use contractors to fill short-term needs. When I hire someone I invest a lot of time, energy and money in getting them trained and up to speed. For the jobs I usually fill, that would all be wasted were the employee to leave after just a few months.

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Obviously it depends on the job, but for most jobs, there are real costs for the employer for hiring someone: You have to be trained, IT will have to prepare your PC, email account, HR will have to enter your data into the employee database and whatnot. And during training, you're probably not as productive, but you're still getting paid.

So yes, if you quit after a few months, you'll cost your employer money. Of course it's ok to quit when you realize you don't like the job (it's not indentured servitude), but accepting a non-temporary job with the full intention of leaving within a few months, without telling your employer so from the start, would be considered very rude.

The same thing is true vice versa: Imagine you quit your old job, moved to a new town to accept a new job, then found out that your employer never intended to keep you long-term. Even if it's not illegal, it would be very very rude.

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Here's an alternative viewpoint (to the other 3 answers so far).

You don't know any more than your potential employer does as to exactly what will happen in the near future. You may think you have plans to quit after a few months and to pursue "plan B". However, in a few months

  • You may enjoy this new job so much that you decide to stay after all.
  • Your "plan B" may no longer be an option.
  • Your new employer may decide, based on unforeseen circumstances, that you may not stay.
  • Your new employer may have already decided, without telling you, that your position will be short-term. Yes, that is very common.

Since you have left out many details of your situation, definitive answers cannot be given. Perhaps that is actually good because it makes the question useful to more people.

In conclusion: unless there is clear, documented evidence that you're committed to "plan B", you should certainly not tell your potential new employer that you intend to leave within a few months.

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Provided you don’t sign a contact with the employer to say you will stray a long time, there is no legal issue. Given that these days’ employers don’t have any problem with hiring someone expecting that the job will not last long, I see no problem with you taking the same attribute.

However you will need a reference to get your next job, it will be very hard to get your next job if that employer thinks you will leave within a few months. Most people seeing your CV will also assume that you have left due to not getting on well with the job.

Employers tent to look back over the last 5 years or so on a CV looking for gaps, or short jobs.

It could be that you will be leaving to go to university and therefore can leave a gap on your CV that most employers will not questions as it is pre university, or you will have another way to explain a gap or a short job.

For example if a computer programmer takes a job doing checkouts in a super market, and explains on their CV that they needed the money while waiting for a visa to start a oversees IT job, then remains in the new job for many years, it is unlikely to be an issue.

However the best option is to get contract or short term work if you can.

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