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How long should you stay at a job before receiving a promotion?

The amount of time someone stays with one company depends on a number of factors such as the culture, personal reasons, location, benefits, opportunities and many more with a lot of room for nuance from person to person. Some people join a company and find that they have found their match while others jump around more routinely.

Many do the above for similar reasons, those being looking for a promotion. Many have the mindset that if you stay in one place you will get rewarded for your loyalty while others look for new opportunities to progress and take that next step.

In a niche industry such as facades, the question is which of the two avenues is better for progress and if staying is your chosen route, then how long should you stay before expecting a promotion?

As mentioned above, facades is a niche industry, meaning that there isn’t always a lot of movement in the sector, especially at higher levels. This means that a senior quantity surveyor may have less opportunity to move up to a commercial manager than they might in a broader sector of the industry. On top of this, it also adds an extra layer necessary for the prospect of a promotion in terms of relevant skills. Façade’s experience is extremely valuable within the industry and absolutely necessary for certain positions.

After having had a number of conversations with candidates looking to progress and lacking the opportunities to do so at their current employer, I can say that several top candidates tend to wait a long time before looking for opportunities elsewhere. Many wait over 5 years before looking for something elsewhere. This contrasts with a poll I placed on LinkedIn last week asking people how long they would wait. This was answered primarily by facades professionals and the consensus (63% of responses) was that 1-2 years is the length of time someone would wait before they would expect a promotion. This does of course have the limitation of being a smaller poll, though that is to be expected from a niche industry.

According to Indeed 2 years is usually the minimum for an individual’s position to be reviewed, with other sources offering similar estimations, though this should be noted that these are based on averages across positions and industries. The timeline for many positions progression varies wildly, and this should be taken into account. A site manager taking the step to becoming a project manager is much bigger than a project manager taking the step to becoming a contracts manager.

Overall, the amount of people who get promoted internally as opposed to being promoted through searching for external opportunities is very similar, though the success rate of these is largely dependent on what stage of your career you are in. For graduates, spending a few years at one company and getting promoted internally is much better overall than for a commercial manager looking to go even higher.

Using a platform like Jobsocks may be beneficial in this regard as being open to new opportunities, even if not actively looking for them, can give you an idea of how your experience translates across the sector beyond just your current employer.

One last thing to keep in mind is the size of the business promoting you. A smaller sub-contractor could elevate you to the position of a contracts manager, but you may be performing the role of a project manager at a mid to large-level employer. The title should not always be the most important factor in a career, even if promotions appear appealing on the outside. Taking a horizontal move may be much more valuable.

So how long should you wait? The answer is dependent on you. What stage of your career are you in? What’s most important to you? How large is your chosen industry? Those, and many more, are questions you’ll have to answer.

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