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Dear Fusion Money,

I’m a 27-year-old legal secretary facing a job dilemma. I left a big law firm about six months ago to join a smaller firm where I thought I could grow by taking on more responsibility. But it hasn’t worked out the way I expected. The new place has limited resources, strange internal politics and frankly isn’t as exciting. I recently learned of a couple of job openings elsewhere that might be a better fit. Should I bother applying for new jobs when I’ve been at my current job for less than a year? Or is that too much of a red flag for prospective employers?

– Bored & Sad In The Courtroom

Dear Bored & Sad,

That sucks about your new job, but don’t despair! You have options.

Duration of employment is not the most important factor to managers when they consider job candidates. Nor should it be a primary factor for you when you decide whether to apply for new jobs.

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Employers care a lot more about how qualified you are, and what you will do to add value to their organization, than about how long you worked somewhere else.

You’re 27, which means the median person around your age has had his or her current job for about three years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the median isn’t everyone, and attitudes about jobs have changed a lot in recent years – for employers as well as employees. Managers have become more understanding about situations like yours, where an employee accepted a job that wasn’t quite right and is looking for a new opportunity fairly soon after.

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All of that said, if your résumé is speckled with several inexplicably short-term gigs, or if you don’t have a good reason for leaving your current job, it won’t look great. So you should be prepared to explain the desired change to potential bosses in the best light – without making you or your current employer look bad.

Specifically, do as much as you can to avoid seeming flighty about your career decisions. Emphasize the things you’ve learned and  accomplished at the current job, even in a short period of time. Highlight what you feel you can get out of a new job. Don’t focus on what you don’t like or haven’t achieved.

Here’s an example:

Manager: I see you’ve been at Little Law Firm for only six months. How come you’re looking to leave so soon?

You: I’ve enjoyed my time as a case assistant at Little Law Firm, taking on more responsibility than I had in my prior job. I’ve instituted new procedures that increased productivity, and I’ve had more say over important decisions. Even though it’s a short period of time, I feel ready for similar challenges at a bigger firm, where I would plan to stay for a longer period of time.

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If the manager presses you, only share as much as you feel comfortable sharing, and be sure not to throw mud in your current employer’s face. DO NOT SAY ANYTHING LIKE THIS:

Manager: I see you’ve been at Little Law Firm for only six months. How come you’re looking to leave so soon?

You: This place is tiny and scrappy – I can’t even get paper for the printer without sending in a request form! The cases are piddling and my boss really sucks. He wears ugly suits and bickers with the other partners all the time. I want to go back to a glamorous office building with boozy lunches, expensive décor and high-profile cases.

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If you do apply for a new job, ace the interview and get an offer, carefully consider the pros and cons before taking it. Investigate what it’s truly like to work at the new place. Ask people you know who have worked there in the past or are current employees. Search job boards. Be upfront with your potential employers about your near-term career goals and ask whether there’s a good way for you to meet them at the new shop.

The last thing you want to do is leave a job after six months only to go to another job you don’t like very much and be on the hunt again.

$$$ This is Fusion Money's inaugural advice column, whose question has been edited for space and clarity. If you have another question about money – making it, spending it, wasting it, investing it or giving it away – please email askfusionmoney@gmail.com and we may feature it in a future column. $$$

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I oversee Fusion's money section and have spent most of my time as a journalist writing about banks and finance. I live in Brooklyn with my partner Geoffrey & our two dogs, Captain & Tallulah. Favs: leopard print, Diet Coke, gummy candy, Ireland.