Is Job Hopping the Right Move?

Job hopping

Is Job Hopping the Right Move?

The debate concerning job hopping has become a rather complex one.  In fact, most Americans can’t even agree on a definition of job hopping.  Is job hopping considered a move in under two years, or anything less than five? Is it considered job hopping when a lay-off is involved? What if a company relocates or closes? And is job hopping even the right move for your long term career?

Once you move beyond those questions, the next topic of debate is whether or not job hopping is damaging or valuable for your career? Do certain roles or industries favor job hopping? What will a potential employer think when they see five positions in as many years?

The simple answer is, there is no simple answer to this question.  Careers are an individual mechanism and the choice to job hop can skyrocket one career, yet tank another.

To help you avoid some of the pitfalls, here are some questions to ask yourself before deciding to job hop.

  1. Have I exhausted my current opportunity?

Before you begin to look outside of your present company for opportunities, you may want to look internally. Is there a promotion or special projects team you can apply for before moving on? If you make a lateral move from a job with plenty of growth opportunity, it begs the question, “why would the company not promote them? Were they not performing well? Were they difficult to work with?”.  In contrast, if you’ve worked with a company for a year and in that same amount of time, shown growth and worked on some special projects, it shows real initiative to move on to a more reputable company.

  1. How does this move contribute to my overall career goals?

Whether you’ve held a position for a couple months or several years, a potential employer will always ask why you left a company.  And when that question inevitably comes, you want to have a well thought out answer.  You see, what companies now know is, it’s not the move that’s most telling, but the reason for the move.  Moving solely for money , boredom, or general discontent are telling signs for the type of employee you will be.  However, hopping from one job to the next to collect the experience you need for your long term career goals is rather impressive.  Even if you take a demotion or pay cut to move, an employer will likely see you in a favorable light if they know your actions have intention behind them.

  1. Will someone back my story?

It’s not hard to create a great back story for why you’ve bounced around so much.  Employers meet candidates every day who have elaborate tales regarding their work history.  But like the saying goes, “the devil’s in the details”.  At the end of the day, you’ve got to have someone willing to back up your story.  Jumping ship every year alone doesn’t necessarily raise red flags.  Jumping ship every year, without a single professional reference does.  In order to leave no doubt that your frequent career moves were your idea, and not a mutual choice, you want to have at least one professional reference from each of your jobs. Either in the form of a letter of recommendation or permission to contact directly, you want former employees to speak of your attributes and value to their company.

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