What constitutes job hopping?
Just to be clear, job hopping refers to when someone moves from one job to another in quick succession and is in each position for a short period of time. It can be the result of a termination (layoff, firing) or the individual resigned voluntarily.
Now, “short” is subjective and varies across industries and companies.
Traditionally, being in jobs less than 1 or 2 years time and time again was considered “career suicide”. Most experts agreed that you should stay in a job for at least a few years before moving on to the next one.
Employers typically don’t like job hoppers
I remember having many conversations with HR and hiring managers who flat-out refused to interview highly-qualified candidates because it looked like they couldn’t hold down a job with any one company to save their life.
To be fair, the employers were paying me a lot of money to find rock-star talent, so I can understand why they would be hesitant to hire someone who might be a “flight risk”.
Inevitably, some employers refuse to hire anyone who shows any kind of job hopping, whether it was voluntary or not.
Is job hopping ever a good idea?
Generally speaking, I wouldn’t advise that you purposely jump from one job to another over the long term (unless you are a contract worker) but there are times when it can be advantageous if done strategically.
The key is strategically – leaving one job for another just because you’re getting the 7-month itch isn’t necessarily a good thing.
There are situations when job hopping can help you go from where you are now to where you want to eventually be over the course of a few years.
You’re a new grad and you want to land your dream job in a few years
You want to move into a completely different job function and/or industry
You are re-entering the workforce after a long hiatus
Job hopping does have some perks
Progressing through 3 or 4 jobs over the course of 3 or 4 years might not be bad move. It can accelerate your overall career success.
It can be an effective way of maximizing your salary. Now, I wouldn’t purposely switch jobs every year or two just to make another few thousand dollars – there are other things you should take into consideration. It’s typically never good to leave for money alone.
Benefits of working for many different companies
You’re able to quickly gain exposure to different ways of doing things in terms of business models and practices.
You’ll learn new skills and methods. This will keep you “fresh” and more hirable especially if you are an “older” worker (that would be subjective, BTW).
You’ll develop and grow a network that spans a diverse group of people from different backgrounds and disciplines.
You’ll have more opportunity to accomplish a diverse range of things using your growing skills set and knowledge base. This will help you create more career success stories that you can draw upon and use to your advantage down the road.
You’ll be more engaged because you’re getting more variety and always learning new things. This is good for the brain but also just makes going to work every day much more fulfilling.
There is an argument for job hopping
People who make a career out of going from one gig to another would claim that staying in the same job and/or company for years on end is NOT the only way to reap the benefits. Yes, that is probably true.
What you want to avoid is being stuck in a job which isn’t giving you the opportunities to learn and grow and preventing you from developing a consistent track record of high performance.
Now, it is possible to be with the same company for years and be at the top of your game, but there needs to be ongoing career development and the opportunity to progress through different roles, otherwise you can get stale and stuck.
But there are still employers who are hesitant to hire someone who’s been with the same company for years on end despite the fact they may have worked their way up the corporate ladder.
The belief is that when someone’s at one company “too long” (that number is subjective), they only know that “one way” of doing business. The fear is that the individual won’t be able to pivot fast enough to a new way of doing things.
Sometimes you just gotta move on
I do agree however, if you get to the point in your job when you feel you’re not providing enough value for whatever reason (you could be bored and not motivated to stretch out of your comfort zone), that might be a good time to make a move.
You want to make sure that where you work, you are performing at the top of your game for the organization you work for and its stakeholders.
When you are truly engaged in what you are doing, you will naturally develop stronger relationships and achieve exceptional results that you can then showcase in your résumé, Linkedin, and other career marketing collateral.
Those great relationships you nurture along your career trajectory will surely become great references when the time comes to leave for another opportunity.
Therefore, moving from one organization to another can be beneficial provided you do it mindfully because the last thing you want to do is burn bridges.
But, you will need to explain clearly to prospective employers, why you made the career moves you did that makes sense from a career development perspective.
It won’t work every time because some employers will always see you as someone who will jump ship. But there are others who won’t have a problem with it.
Not all companies have a hate-on for job hoppers
There are many companies out there, particularly in the tech industry, who care more about the results you can produce than the fact you had 6 jobs in 4 years. That doesn’t scare them.
What they care about is snagging the best talent they can, and they’ll offer a generous compensation package and all kinds of perks and learning opportunities to keep that talent working for them as long as possible.
You need a résumé that downplays job hopping
When you’ve held many jobs over a relatively short period of time, it’s going to stand out on your résumé and your Linkedin profile. You want to present yourself in the best light to attract as much interest as possible.
Unless you can somehow lump them altogether to make it look like one job (which is usually not a good idea), it can stick out like a sore thumb.
This could be the thing that gets you disqualified immediately because HR couldn’t see past the job hopping. No interview. No dream job.
The thing is, it’s much easier and effective to explain your job moves during an interview and networking conversation, but not in a document.
What you need is a résumé that’s so mind-blowing that HR, the recruiter, and hiring manager don’t care about the job hopping because all they can see is how you are going to deliver value. That can be done but it requires a strategy.
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