Job Hoppers: To Hop Or Not To Hop


By Kathleen Laney - December 13, 2016

It’s not exactly a secret. Recruiters and hiring managers have a long history of rejecting “job hoppers.”

After all, it’s expensive hiring and training new employees. So why take a chance on someone who isn’t likely to stay?

The answer is simple. Because you will be losing out on some of the best talent on the market. 

While the stigma of job hopping or moving from job to job every few years is starting to fade, I still work with clients and candidates who focus almost solely on the number of years spent at a job as an indicator of success.

Times have changed and that is antiquated thinking.

Growing up in Rochester, NY in the 80s and 90s, many of my classmates had parents that worked at Kodak. Those jobs were golden. A Kodak career then was the epitome of success for many. Their professional lives went something like this: graduate from school, get an entry-level job, work their way up the corporate ladder over a span of 30 years or more, and then collect a pension.

But today that story doesn’t play out and is certainly not the best way to get ahead. The Kodak job of yesterday doesn’t exist anymore. Why expect your employees to be playing by old school rules if you don’t yourself? Raises and promotions are no longer the way to boost earnings, gain additional skill sets, or get access to growth opportunities.

Job hopping isn’t always bad… here’s why.

Used correctly, job hopping can be a way for a professional to:

  • Increase pay. The average raise is somewhere in the one to three percent range. When you switch jobs, a typical increase starts at ten percent.
  • Increase responsibilities.  Companies don’t move as fast as results. Evaluation and recognition often comes only once a year.
  • Learn new skills and technologies. Taking a new position or switching companies exposes you to new technologies and new ways of doing things, often requiring you to upgrade and learn different skills. It keeps skill sets fresh, current, and adaptable.
  • Grow professional network. Working for multiple companies can help you build a large network of contacts within an industry. This is not only useful in finding new jobs but in performing a job.

If you are considering a candidate for a position, don’t emphasize job tenure over job performance and skills as indicators of success. Look to see if the candidate has switched jobs for career progression and growth. If that is the pattern you see, certainly don’t put that candidate in the rejection pile.

If you are considering a job switch yourself, don’t focus solely on the number of years you have been with your current company or current position. Your length of time at your current job shouldn’t be the main influencer in deciding whether to take the next step or stay where you are. Instead, think about what you have accomplished in your position, what growth opportunities are ahead if you stay, and what a potential new job can do to help you grow.

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