Is Job Hopping As Bad As It Sounds?

Time was, when something broke you had it fixed. Not any more. We live in an economy where things are designed to last for a while and then be replaced. You can’t find somewhere to fix a simple two-slice toaster much less an expensive monster-screen TV that’s more than a few years old. And if your laptop fries? The best advice is to buy a new one because the one you had would be obsolete soon anyway. 

Maybe because they’re used to things not lasting forever, Millennials are much less likely to stay with a job than previous generations were. A recent survey by PayScale, Inc. shows that 41% of baby boomers believed that the minimum time you should spend on a job before looking for a new one is five years. On the other hand, only 13% of Millennials think you need to hang on that long before looking for the next shiny object. 26 percent, in fact, think that a year is enough. 

Granted, depending upon how old you are, it’s been since your grandparents’ or even great-grands’ generation that people routinely stayed with a company for their entire careers and retired with a gold watch and a tidy company-funded pension for their efforts. That was back before disruptive economic changes, mergers, outsourcing, the explosive growth of technology, and other factors refigured the business landscape. A 40 or 50-year career in one place is now definitely an outlier. 

Hiring managers understand the market forces and are used to seeing a number of jobs in someone’s history. But does that mean you can hop and skip at will without damage to your resume? What are the pros and cons of job hopping? 

When Is It Okay To Job Hop? 

Particularly at the start of your career, the first job you have may turn out to be a bad fit. Later on in your working life, you may have stayed with a company for four or five years, and then made a move that didn’t work out. Both of those circumstances are perfectly understandable. It’s the pattern that people look at. A string of short-term employments, especially if they’re in parallel positions, indicates someone who jumps ship when the going gets tough and doesn’t have the drive or tenacity to stick with it and work it through. 

When Is It Actually A Good Idea? 

People typically leave a job either to escape a toxic working environment or to explore an exciting new opportunity. They’re both good reasons, and you shouldn’t restrain yourself from either of them. In the first case, work shouldn’t be punishment and you’re entitled to be happy with where you are and what you’re doing for so many of your waking hours. In the second case, well, who doesn’t want a chance to grow at something new? 

In fact, there are benefits to a reasonable amount of job hopping: 

• It shows that you’re not stagnant and that you’re adaptable and open to change. 

• You gain experience in a variety of settings that deepens your understanding of the work you do and the applications in which you can apply it. 

• You learn new skills and stay current on what’s happening in your industry. 

So Why Would It Ever Be A Bad Idea? 

Given that hiring managers are aware of what’s going on out there, it’s still a gamble for them to hire someone who moves too quickly from job to job. 

For one thing, hiring is a time-consuming and expensive process. So is training a new employee and integrating him or her into the workplace culture. New hires often don’t get into the real swing of things and start contributing in a meaningful way for six months or more. An employer wants as much assurance as possible that the ROI is going to be worth the effort. Maybe even worse, what if it turns out that you were just the person they were looking for and you still hop on down the road after a year or so? 

How Can You Help Yourself? 

If your resume looks like the history of someone who can’t keep a job, or if you’re staying at your present position just because you’ve decided you need more time in, consider augmenting your credentials by getting a GMAT waiver MBA online while you’re stuck where you are. It will show proof to future employers that you’re serious about your career, and will make you competitive not only in the open job market but with the company you’re currently working for. You may find that you don’t want to hop at all.

Keep all of these suggestions in mind when you determine whether you should be switching positions or careers anytime soon. 

I hope you enjoyed this article about whether job hopping is a beneficial or detrimental behavior pattern.

Interested in more articles about career growth and recruiting?

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