By and large, when baby boomers got a job, they tended to stick with it for life – or at least for periods exceeding ten years. Job hopping was a term filled with negative connotations. It spoke of frivolity, instability, fickleness, and lack of dedication and ambition. These days, job hopping is almost the norm with most people staying jobs for between three to five years before moving on and moving up.
But, has job hopping lost its stigma? Is it really an acceptable practice? It seems that the jury is still out. We look at some of the views on the matter.
In August 2013, Forbes writer Jacquelyn Smith cited stats from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics which show that the on average, young employees (between 20 and 34 years old) in the US have spent about 2.3 years in their current job. The average goes up to 4.6 when all workers in the US are taken into account.
In the article, Frank Dadah, a recruitment specialist, defines job hopping as moving from one company to another every one to two years, due to personal reasons. In other words, job hoppers haven’t been fired or retrenched and the company hasn’t closed.
Job hopping can be good
Laurie Lopez, another recruitment specialist, says that job hopping can be beneficial for certain types of careers, specifically those in technology, as it allows people to gain different knowledge in different environments. It can keep skills sharp and fresh, as people don’t become complacent or stagnant in one place.
In addition to keeping job skills fresh, it also keeps people skills sharp, because you’ll be exposed to many different people in many different contexts. You’ll have to learn to work effectively with each of them. You’ll also be able to learn different things from them, which gives you access to a potential pool of mentors. And, it allows you to grow a wide network of contacts.
On a personal note, job hopping allows you to try out several different positions and directions to see where you’re happiest. And, it allows you to earn more money. You might not get big salary increases in every job you go to, but little increases along the way can add up to a lot. However, make sure that you’re not just chasing money, because that will come across and put off many employers.
But job hopping can also be bad
Employers are often nervous about hiring people who tend to spend only a year or two in a job. Granted, they can benefit from your diverse skills and experience, but they know that the chances are good that they will then lose those skills and experience, as well as any investments they make in you, a couple of years down the line. It simply doesn’t make financial sense to keep hiring people every one or two years, so companies may look for people with a more dependable track record.
In tough times, when retrenchments are inevitable, companies exercise a last in first out policy. If you only spend a year or two in a job, chances are good you were one of the last in. Also, the fact that you seem to thrive on the job market will make you seem more expendable.
According to a survey by Bullhorn, job hopping can have particularly negative consequences for future employment prospects. Of the 1500 recruiters and hiring managers who took part in the survey, 39% say that job hopping is the biggest obstacle to finding employment, especially when applicants tend to spend less than a year in positions.
And in the end
In the end, job hopping (intentional job hopping) is a personal decision – a life choice. You either find the risks worth it, or you don’t. Erik Dietrich says that you should ask yourself several important questions when you’re deciding whether or not to leave a job. For example:
1) Are you happy where you are? (Arguably the most important question)
2) Do you have time to hunt for a job properly?
3) What are your family/financial commitments?
4) Can you save up enough money to carry you through several months of unemployment?
If you do decide to leave, Steve Kasmouski says that you need to ensure that you can prove that you were an essential part of the company. If you can prove that you were an important cog in the machine then, no matter how many jobs you’ve had, your worth should speak for itself.
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With five jobs in seven years, Jemima Winslow can definitely be considered a job hopper. It’s not a label she’s ashamed of, however and doesn’t feel it should count against her if she were ever to move abroad and find a job using a niche international job board, like Skilledmigrantjobs.com.