A few months ago, we stumbled upon an interesting article in Forbes about « The Pros and Cons of Job Hopping ». The article provides a fresh take on the benefits and drawbacks of changing jobs every few years.
The article concluded that « if you do it for the right reasons and maintain healthy relationships with past employers, the pros should outweigh the cons and you’ll be seen as a flexible, recourceful candidate ». Let’s see how this applies to you.
What is job hopping?
Job hopping is an elusive term, but « moving from one company to the next every one to two years, doing this repeatedly and for other reasons than a layoff or company closing » seems a good working definition.
Job hopping is a relatively new trend. Whereas Baby Boomers usually stayed with one employer for their entire career, the younger generations X and Y seem to strive for more instant gratification. This results in more adventurous career paths.
So, what are the most important benefits of job hopping?
The benefits of job hopping
1. You can get a ton of experience and a fresh look on things
If you change jobs every few years, you’ll see the inner workings of various companies and company cultures. Each one will have its own best practices and rules of conduct.
If you carry this knowledge and experiences with you, and if you can apply them in your future work, it may offer new ideas and a surprisingly fresh way of doing things.
This may help you and your future employers overcome challenges sooner and better, in ways you (and they) would otherwise have never thought of.
2. You can grow a powerful network
The more companies you work in, the larger your network will become. Having a large, resourceful and easily accessible network is a big asset for employees and employers alike.
With a powerful network, you’ll be able to reach out to people and information quicker and easier. This is definitely a win-win for you and your future employers.
3. You get more opportunities to find the right fit
If you work with various employers, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to figure out which type of job and company culture suit you best.
This is a win-win for you and the employer that matches your criteria, provided that you can resist the urge to change jobs again. After all, the grass always seems greener on the other side.
Sound good! But what about the drawbacks of job hopping?
The drawbacks of job hopping
1. Employers may be hesitant to invest in you
Imagine you are an employer. Would you invest in the education and career development of someone who changes jobs every few years? Probably not!
If you change jobs often you may be considered a flight risk. As a result, you may not get the education, coaching, rewards or career opportunities other, more loyal employees get.
2. Last in, first out
Imagine you are an employer again. Who would you lay off first when things get rough: loyal employees with a ton of company-specific knowledge, or new forces with more generic knowledge? When things get rough, loyal employees will be at the advantage.
3. You may seem unreliable
If you change jobs every one or two years, employers may question your judgement and your perseverance. True, some people may be better at starting things and other may be better at completing things, but completing long term projects shows that you have discipline and that you won’t leave at the first sign of trouble.
Should you hop?
Well, it depends on a number of things, among which:
1. The industry you are in
Some industries are more open to job hoppers than others. If your new jobs all have steep learning curves (and hence a large cost of education), more loyal employees may be at the advantage.
2. The country you live in
The Forbes article was geared towards the American economy. Based on our daily experience with recruitment in Belgium we can tell that Belgian companies are still more reluctant to hire employees that change jobs every few years.
3. Your reasons for job hopping
If you can prove that you have provided added value to all your past employers and that you left on good terms, your career jumps will be more acceptible than when you are just chasing quick pay raises.
Mind that attracting, screening, courting and hiring new employees is very expensive for companies though. With this in mind, ‘providing added value to your employers’ means “paying back these investments and providing extra value on top of that”!
4. Your need for security
If you feel confident about your skills and knowledge and if you are willing to take risks, you may consider changing jobs more often. However, if you want job security and more peace of mind, pursuing a rich and varied career with one employer may be more rewarding.
5. The trail you leave behind
No matter what, you are dealing with people. If you always leave on good terms, you’ll grow a powerful network. However, if you burn your bridges, all you’ll leave is a bitter taste and a network of people who will speak ill of you.
And please let’s not forget…
6. Your definition of job satisfaction
Most people love and/or need appreciation. If you make yourself indispensible to your employer (this usually requires you to stick around for a longer period of time), you’ll feel the appreciation of your employer and your colleagues. This may be far more rewarding than changing jobs every few years.
7. Your peace of mind
If you focus on the here and now without losing sight of your long-term ambitions, you’ll probably feel more at ease than when you are constantly dreaming of the future. Setting and pursuing goals may give you peace of mind and joy at work. Don’t underestimate the power of these two rewards.
Our thoughts on job hopping
1. Be careful!
The Forbes article concluded that « if you change jobs for the right reasons and if you maintain healthy relationships with past employers, the pros [of job hopping] should outweigh the cons and you’ll be seen as a flexible, recourceful candidate. »
Based on our daily experience with recruitment, we’d like to tone down this conclusion to « if you change jobs for the right reasons and if you maintain healthy relationships with past employers, the pros [of job hopping] MAY outweigh the cons and you MAY be seen as a flexible, recourceful candidate. »
We feel that Belgian employers are still more conservative in their hiring policies. So be careful if you change jobs repeatedly for the wrong (read: just financial) reasons. It may bring short-term joy, but it can jeopardize your future.
2. Consultancy: the best of both worlds
There is one last thing the Forbes article didn’t mention: there is a job where you can build a career, a large network and varied skills and expertise with one employer while working on challenging projects with very diverse companies. That job is called consultancy. Want to know more? Click here for more information.
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