more-arw search

Q&A Forum

I'm in a stretch job that is very stressful. There is a lot of growth but how long should i hold out to show career stability?

I've been there for 18 months now. I can't say I'm happy but I think my career is on a great trajectory...


Topic Expert
Cindy Kraft
Title: CFO Coach
Company: Executive Essentials
(CFO Coach, Executive Essentials) |

The average tenure today for a CFO is 22 months. I can’t say with certainty what the VP Finance tenure is, but I doubt it is much longer than 3 years.

That said, I don’t believe the answer to the question really lies in longevity. I think there are two much more powerful drivers.

-- How did you impact in this position? If you’ve made a measurable impact and it feeds into your next-step career goal, then you’re probably in good shape.

-- Much more important, though, is the power of passive positioning. Unless you absolutely “must” leave ... “don’t” leave until your next position is secure. Even though nothing changes about your skill sets when you’ve just transitioned from employed to unemployed, your marketability takes a huge, negative hit. True or not and fair or not, the perception is that the employed candidate is still working for a reason ... and more often than not, those are the candidates recruiters are instructed to pursue.

Scott Arnold
Title: CFO
Company: Under employed
(CFO , Under employed) |

Ditto to Cindy's comment

George Schaefer
Title: CFO
Company: Soltage, LLC
(CFO, Soltage, LLC) |

The data on this is very poor - in 2010 Robert Half did a survey of the S&P 500 and found that over half of the CFO's had been in their position over 5 years, yet lots of "scuttlebutt" indicates it is shorter. VC's will tell you they expect their CFO's to last 2-3 year. There is no "good" answer.

I have been in three CFO positions in the last five year and with eleven companies in my 36 years of work. I have never worried about finding a new position.

If you need a change and have a good opportunity, move on.

Title: Executive & Business Coach, Career Trans..
Company: Howard B. Schwedel, MBA / Schwedel Busin..
(Executive & Business Coach, Career Transition, Franchise Selection, Howard B. Schwedel, MBA / Schwedel Business Svc.) |

In 2008 I was asked by m business partners to take on the role of COO in addtion to my duties as CFO. They looked to me to re-launch a major divison of our company and re-brand it at the smae time. Stretch - yes, Stress - yes.

My advice is to set out clear objectives of what you will achieve and by when. Make one of the objectives, hiring your replacement, so you can either step up in your organization or step out to continue your own personal growth.

These situations are always tough, because if you are doing a poor job, you are very visible and will be pulled from the position. If you do a great job, you make it look like it is easy and you have taken a problem area and turned it into a success. So your boss won't want to let you leave.

Once you achieve your objectives, you will have a success story to tell. That is the right ime to make your move.

Good luck.

Sheri Pawlik
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: B2B CFO
(Chief Financial Officer, B2B CFO) |

I have one solution, B2B CFO. I have been with the firm for 3 years. We provide CFO services to several small and mid-size companies on an as-needed basis. Our goal is to be a long term advisor, not an interim CFO. I am no longer dependant on one company for my employment.

Topic Expert
Joan Varrone
Title: CFO
Company: Cloud Cruiser
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, Cloud Cruiser) |

I certainly agree that you should not leave unless you have a new position secured. I have quite a bit of anecdotal evidence that employers are biased against the unemployed. That being said I dont see the downside to looking for a new position and if the right fit comes along I dont think a tenure of 18 months to 2 years will raise any eyebrows down the line. In addition, this position is one in a long career as well.

In terms of finding a position, networking is key but I would also put discrete feelers our to recruiters you trust.

Topic Expert
Vernon Reizman
Title: CFO
Company: RCM Industries, Inc.
(CFO, RCM Industries, Inc.) |

If it is your first job I would want to have a minimum of 3 years. If it is a subsequent job then 5 years would be my minimum. With that said leave sooner if truly unhappy but strive to not have more than 3 positions in a 10 year period.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

I love these rules of thumb. Reminds of a course in Public Administration I took and the Prof stressing the "brilliance" of Peter Drucker about budgeting.

"Make a budget that's not too much, because it will be slashed and not too small, because that will be slashed as well."

If you go from company to company, building success after success and present your bona fides as a "star maker", then it really doesn't matter how long or how many companies you've been with.

IMHO, it's what the business owner wants, what you can deliver and what you both negotiate.

Topic Expert
Scott MacDonald
Title: President/Owner
Company: AlphaMac Resources, Inc.
(President/Owner, AlphaMac Resources, Inc.) |

As long as you are showing upward progression in responsibilities, then I don't think the amount of time spent is that important. Now that doesn't mean you should have 4 jobs with under 6 months, as that makes you look like a job hopper, but even then, if you have increased responsibiilty (rather than latteral moves) the impact is not significant.

The main question you will have to answer, in just about any interview, is why do you want to leave that job you started just XXX months/years ago. Better have a good answer.

Products and Companies

Get Free Membership

By signing up, you will receive emails from Proformative regarding Proformative programs, events, community news and activity. You can withdraw your consent at any time. Contact Us.

Business Exchange

Browse the Business Exchange to find information, resources and peer reviews to help you select the right solution for your business.

Learn more

Contribute to Community

If you’re interested in learning more about contributing to your Proformative community, we have many ways for you to get involved. Please email [email protected] to learn more about becoming a speaker or contributing to the blogs/Q&A Forum.