Stay or go? The risks and rewards of job hopping

6 mins

It’s a dynamic job market out there! The concept of traditional long-term employment has evo...

It’s a dynamic job market out there! The concept of traditional long-term employment has evolved in recent years – and continues to do so. 

Job hopping, defined as frequently changing employers within a relatively short time frame, has become increasingly common. And doesn’t always have all the negative connotations it once did. In some cases, moving repeatedly for the right roles could even accelerate your career path. 

According to data from the United States Bureau of Statistics, the typical employee now stays at a job for just over four years, with older employees tending to have slightly longer tenures. But even for the more mature worker, it appears the days of spending entire careers with one employer could become a thing of the past.  

For the purposes of his blog, we’d define job hopping as consistently moving roles held for less than two years. If you’re a candidate considering your future options and career goals, understanding the pros and cons of job hopping is crucial. Here, we aim to provide insights into the potential advantages and considerations associated with job hopping, helping you to make informed decisions about the next chapter in your professional journey.

The pros of job hopping

(1) Exposure to diverse industries and roles

First off, let’s point out that job hopping allows candidates to explore lots of various industries, roles, and work environments. This exposure enables them to gain a broad range of skills, knowledge, and experiences. If you want to quickly expand your expertise, one way may be working in lots of different sectors, in turn increasing your adaptability and maybe even your market value.

(2) Exploring company culture

Frequent job changes can allow candidates to experience different organisational structures, work environments, and cultures. This first-hand exposure is only possible through actually becoming an employee in several different businesses. And it can help you to identify the type of company culture that aligns with your values and preferred work style, facilitating better long-term career satisfaction and growth.

(3) Rapid skill acquisition

Changing jobs frequently often requires you to learn new technologies, methodologies, and practices. This continuous exposure to different work cultures and challenges accelerates skill development, enhancing your versatility and adaptability in the ever-changing job market - great qualities that hirers look for in candidates.

(4) Negotiating power

Job hopping can potentially increase your bargaining power during salary negotiations. Stats suggest that new hires’ wages are often 9% higher than tenured employees, and 68% of hiring managers say at least one of their staff has requested a raise or to even leave their role over these kinds of pay discrepancies. But on top of this, candidates with a history of varied experiences and a diverse skill set may be viewed as valuable assets by employers. So, what are you waiting for? If you’re moving roles, remember to seek the most competitive compensation packages, as you’re in a good position to bargain.

(5) Networking opportunities

Each new job presents an opportunity to build a new professional network – and a vast network can do wonders for your career. Job hoppers have the advantage of expanding their connections – both physically through forming relationships and friendships at work, and via social media platforms like LinkedIn. Establishing rapport with professionals from diverse backgrounds and across a vast network can provide valuable references, mentorship opportunities, and potential job leads in the future.

The cons of job hopping

(1) Perception of instability

Job hopping can sometimes be perceived negatively by employers who value stability and longevity. Some employers may question a candidate's commitment and loyalty based on their employment history. You can get past these issues through ensuring you address them proactively during interviews by emphasising your motivation for change and the skills you’ve gained along the way.

(2) Limited career progression

Rapid job changes may result in limited opportunities for vertical career progression within a single organisation. Climbing the corporate ladder often requires an investment of time and dedication to a particular company, which may be compromised by frequent moves. If you leave before seeing a project through to the end, you may not only leave your employer in the lurch, but could be missing out on valuable experience too. Make sure you weigh up the potential impact on your long-term career goals when considering job hopping.

(3) Inability to build trust and credibility

Establishing trust and credibility with employers can be more challenging if you’ve a history of job hopping. Hiring managers could perceive you as flighty or unreliable. So, focus on highlighting your accomplishments and transferable skills to mitigate any concerns, and be transparent about why you’ve left previous roles to build credibility.

(4) Loss of company-specific knowledge

Each job change entails leaving behind company-specific knowledge and expertise. Accumulating valuable institutional knowledge allows employees to contribute more effectively to an organisation over time. And you’re basically having to start from scratch to build up knowledge again each time you start with a new company. Frequent job changes may result in a lack of deep understanding of a specific industry or organisation, which could limit future opportunities or mean you’re unable to progress as quickly as you’d like.

(5) Forfeiting of shares

If you’re working with a big tech company, for example, there’s a chance your role comes with some benefits, including shares in the organisation. It’s crucial to weigh up your entire package before moving to another role. Shares are usually only offered to long-standing employees, and having shares in a large, successful business is something you may have to be willing to sacrifice if you want to move on.

It's worth noting that although job hopping can be perceived negatively, if you’re in a role that just doesn’t feel right, it’s important to get out! If you’re not enjoying the role, the environment, or culture, don’t stay for fear of job hopping. Most of us will have a short stint or two on our CV and the key is being open and transparent with new employers, providing a good explanation of why you’ve moved on. 

Job hopping has both pros and cons for candidates. There’s no right or wrong answer to how often you should move roles, or how long you should stay. Individual circumstances and career goals are all very different. But be sure to take time to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages before hopping too often. 

And remember, if you’re a fan of frequently changing roles, why not consider freelancing or contracting? These avenues can provide all the pros of job hopping, while removing many of the cons.

As recruitment consultants, it’s crucial we guide candidates in understanding the potential positives and negatives of frequently changing roles. And we’re here to help you make well-informed decisions that align with your goals and ensure your long-term career success. Contact us today for advice on your next move, or have a look at our latest job opportunities.

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