Weighing the Advantages & Disadvantages of Job Hopping

Much has changed since the days where individuals were loyal to their employers and would stay with the company 20 years, if not more and perhaps even to the point of retirement.

With the launch of of the Gen Zs (and Gen Ys), the .coms, and varied employment opportunities entering the world of work, we now see shorter stays per employer on resumes.

It is not uncommon to see spans of one to five years per job, on a person’s resume. Years ago (and often now as well), a multitude of jobs listed on your resume was frowned upon and would most likely take you out of the running to be hired.

As per a study on job hopping conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Employees above the age of 34 average 4.6 years per employer.
  • Younger employees between the ages of 20 to 34 years, only average 2.3 years per company.

So what classifies an individual as a job hopper?

As per data collected by a career service firm named Ajilon, there are different views among HR professionals on an exact definition to the term. Their data shows that 51% believe that changing jobs annually will qualify you as a job hopper, while 34% stated every two years.

According to CareerBuilder it really depends on the industry because their research found that particular sectors had higher frequencies of job hopping than others. For example:

  • Information Technology – 42% were likely to leave within 1 to 2 years.
  • Leisure & Hospitality – 41% were likely to leave within 1 to 2 years.
  • Manufacturing – 32% were likely to leave within 1 to 2 years.
  • Retail – 36% were likely to leave within 1 to 2 years.
  • Transportation – 37% were likely to leave within 1 to 2 years.

According to a survey conducted by the staffing firm Robert Half, if you’ve had more than five jobs over a ten-year span, it’s too much.

While outlooks regarding frequently switching jobs seem to change often, there are undoubtedly pros and cons to bouncing around, as opposed to sticking it out for the long haul with the same company.

Some may consider that staying too long with the same company demonstrates a lack of ambition, while others feel that pulling out after a short period may reveal disloyalty and the inability to commit.

Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of job hopping.

The Pros….

  • Salary increase. If you’re seeking frequent increases in your salary, staying with the same company may not be the best way to achieve that goal. The typical salary raise existing employees receive is around 3 to 5%. Estimates are that moving to a new role and negotiating your salary well, could lead to a 10 to 20% increase over your current salary.
  • Opportunity for experience. When you work at a variety of companies/industries, over the course of time your experience will be broader than many professionals in your field. Working in diverse places broadens your expertise and knowledge with different types of companies, work environments, software, clients and so on.
  • Stronger network. The people you know are very important for your career. By working in different places you can get access to and build relationships with new/different people quickly.
  • Moving on up. For various reasons, it might not be possible for you to move up the ranks in your current company. In such cases, moving to another employer could land you a bigger role/title.

The Cons….

  • Edge over outsiders. Many businesses choose to hire from within the company rather than recruit outsiders to fill openings. It is wiser for them to mold their employees into higher positions for a variety of reasons but mainly because promoted workers have better performance evaluations than outside workers.
  • Your staying power is questionable. Employers could be hesitant in hiring someone who has a pattern of jumping from job to job frequently because they don’t want to invest money in training a person who will not be around for the long run. Employee turnover is very expensive for organisations. Someone whose resume shows staying power will have an advantage with employers who value commitment.
  • Leaving behind company knowledge. If you spend an integral amount of time in one company, you are witness to a lot of their corporate history, culture and ways of working. You also know many people and have built-up a certain amount of goodwill in the organisation. This helps you get things done and can be great for your career. Moving to another company means that you have to acquire all of this from scratch.

So how do you decide if it makes sense to jump ship?

A lot of very personal factors and analysis go into this decision. However, here are a few questions you can ask yourself to get started:

  1. Realistically what does your career path in the current company look like?
  2. Have you learnt all you can and made the most of your present job?
  3. What is acceptable in the industry and city/country?
  4. How often have you changed jobs in the past?
  5. Which of the pros and cons mentioned above are most important for you?
  6. What will it be like working in the alternative choice and what type of career path can you expect? (you’ll need to do a lot research and speak with quite a few people to get a proper perspective on this).

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