Job Hopping

The Millennial generation has embraced job hopping. Most Millennials will stay in a job less than three years, according to a Canadian study, which examined the frequency in which Millennials change jobs and employers relative to previous generations. In fact, 91% of all Millennials will move on to their next job before the 4 year mark. Of course, there is some debate among employers whether all of this job hopping is good for the collective bottom line or not.

Although the statistics suggest that a generation of potential employees are moving around with relative ease, changing jobs and changing careers is not so simple! It’s best to chart out how you will progress in your career. It would be prudent to only take career opportunities that will help you grow both professionally and personally. And this career advice holds true no matter what generation you are from.

Perceptions about job hopping are shifting. In 2002, 47% of the HR professionals surveyed by PayScale said that job hopping is “damaging” to long-term career goals. In 2016, that number rose to 62%.

So is it OK for you to change jobs every 1-3 years without doing damage to your professional reputation? According to U.S. News & World Report, job hopping or staying at a job for only a year or two will make it harder for you to get a job that you really want.

“If you keep leaving jobs that quickly, hiring managers will assume that you’ll do the same to them and will be reluctant to hire and invest in someone who will be out the door in a few years.”  Having a stable work history is especially a prerequisite for the most interesting, challenging jobs, which generally have lots of people applying for them.”

Tropical business frog

However, there is more than one caveat to this rule. Contract work or consulting work is usually temporary. Employers know this and generally, you will not be penalized for working as such. In fact, employers look favorably on anyone who is capitalizing on new opportunities. Taking contract work or acting as a consultant between jobs shows initiative; a trait that is always welcome to employers.

And job hopping might not always be viewed negatively. According to Dr. Cherry Collier, it’s OK to move around early in your career and gain new skills and experiences along the way. Changing jobs every couple of years provides the candidate with potential increase in salary, exposure to a variety of companies and how they work, as well as the chance to build an expansive network.

In 2015, the average salary increase for someone who stayed at their current job was 3%. In that same year, the average increase in salary after changing jobs was 10-20%.

However, as you reach the midpoint in your career, it would be prudent to commit to one company and build a solid reputation as an expert in your field. Job hopping into your late 20’s and early 30’s could set you up for career sabotage. Employers report that a resume with a long string of  jobs suggests that the candidate can’t be loyal to any company for more than a couple of years. As such, even if you do get hired, you may be the first to be let go when (or if) there are layoffs at your company.

Finally, if you job hop, you may miss out on the long term success that you could gain if you stuck around. According to Professor Matthew Bidwell at Wharton, it takes 2 years for the performance review of external hires to catch up with workers who are internally promoted. The possible reasons for this are supervisory bias and the time it takes for the externally hired employees to get up to speed.

Job hopping isn’t for everyone. It has its benefit and drawbacks depending on who you are and what you are trying to accomplish. Examine your intentions and long term goals. Make sure you are not “hopping” yourself right out of the job you really want!

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