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ask a career coach

How soon is too soon to leave a job? Add to ...

The question:

I am a 25-year-old who has recently received the CMA (Certified Management Accounting) designation. I know with my new designation, I can find a better-paying job. I have only been in my current position for a little over six months. I am afraid that potential employers will see me as a short-term employee if they see that on my résumé. Is it too early to apply for new jobs? If so, how long should I wait to apply?

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The answer:

It is not too early to apply for new roles, but make sure that you have a good strategy in place if there are some difficult questions. However, before you move on, consider the possible options with your current employer.

You could stay with your current employer, asking if they can revisit your salary given the designation you have earned. In order to position yourself in the most advantageous way, book a formal meeting with your supervisor and discuss your recently earned credential. Elaborate how the qualification provides an added value to company, highlighting the benefit of your new skills and knowledge. This ammunition will help you build a case to advance in both pay and responsibility.

If you are set on moving on, or approaching your current employer does not yield successful results, then a search for a new job needs to be approached carefully, and for the right reasons.

If all you want is a better-paying job, be aware that more money, regardless of designation, tends to mean more responsibility and accountability. Be sure this is what you want, and be clear on where you want to go to get it.

If you will be leaving a job after a short time, your messaging to the future and former employer needs to be carefully crafted, as many employers frown upon people moving on strictly for more money. Rather than appearing to be just bidding for a bigger paycheque, position the move as professional opportunity.

For example, when asked in an interview why you want to leave your current job, talk more about the position itself, rather than the compensation. Using language like “I have been in my current role for six months, and although it has been a very positive and rewarding experience for me, I have attained my CMA and I would like to be in a role that allows me to utilize these skills to their fullest extent.”

One red flag for employers is a record of more than one unexplained short-term job on a résumé. If a role is cut short due to layoff or end of contract, then that should be noted in a résumé so employers understand that you did not voluntarily leave. For roles that you did leave early on in pursuit of other opportunities, focus on the positives of your former job, and the opportunity that the new one presents.

Eileen Dooley is a certified coach and lead consultant for McRae Inc.  in Calgary.

Have a question about careers, labour law or management? Send it to our panel of experts: careerquestion@globeandmail.com Your name and address will be kept confidential.

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