The Case for Job Hopping: 4 Reasons to Go, 1 Reason to Pause

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Convinced that you should remain loyal to a job, even if you absolutely loathe the thought of being there each day? Maybe a better opportunity is at your fingertips, but you fear the long-term consequences of making the move.

It may be time to adjust your mindset: The days of hiring managers frowning upon the resumes of those with cameos in the workplace are coming to an end in a number of industries.

A press release about a recent survey by CareerBuilder said, “More than half (55 percent) of employers surveyed said they have hired a job-hopper and nearly one-third (32 percent) of all employers said they have come to expect workers to job hop.”

According to the survey, the industries where job hopping is most common are:

  • Information technology — 42 percent of employers expect employees to job hop.
  • Leisure and hospitality — 37 percent.
  • Transportation — 37 percent.
  • Retail — 36 percent.
  • Manufacturing — 32 percent.

However, job hopping is something that’s considered more acceptable from younger employees. CareerBuilder said:

While employers may be more accepting of job-hoppers, their expectations still tend to vary based on the candidate’s age. Forty-one percent of employers said that job hopping becomes less acceptable when a worker reaches his/her early to mid-30s (ages 30 or 35). Twenty-eight percent find job hopping less acceptable after the age of 40.

With all of this in mind, here are some arguments to strengthen the case for job hopping:

1. Longevity = lower pay 

It appears that loyalty is overrated, especially if you want to increase your income.

Cameron Keng, a contributor to Forbes, says the average raise this year will be 3 percent, which he said really amounts to less than 1 percent after inflation is factored in. But those who change jobs will end up getting a much more substantial bump in income. He adds:

In 2014, the average employee is going to earn less than a 1 percent raise and there is very little that we can do to change management’s decision. But, we can decide whether we want to stay at a company that is going to give us a raise for less than 1 percent. The average raise an employee receives for leaving is between a 10 percent to 20 percent increase in salary. Obviously, there are extreme cases where people receive upward of 50 percent, but this depends on each person’s individual circumstances and industries.

So, what incentive do you have to stay if money is your motive? My point exactly.

If you accept the recession as a reason to settle and take the loyalty route, you may miss opportunities that are far more lucrative.

2. The quest for clarity

What do you want to do with your life? If you have yet to answer that question, sticking around at a job that you hate probably isn’t the wisest thing to do. In fact, loyalty has the potential to hinder the process of finding your calling, which could lead to bigger issues, like depression, later on.

3. Increased demand for talent

More than ever, companies are scouring through the piles of eligible candidates for those with the most impressive skill sets that can boost their bottom lines. They’re willing to spend money to get them on board.

Says Katie Simon on LearnVest:

[M]any companies are starving for skilled workers — and may pay as much as a 25 percent salary increase for a 10 percent increase in employee productivity. The very businesses that have lowered the raise norm have set up their high performers to hop jobs for better pay.

4. Versatility

Adaptability is a good thing. Some recruiters value it because it means you’re willing to conform and use your array of knowledge and experience to advance their organization. Versatility also means you are able to adjust to a variety of personalities and company cultures without sacrificing performance.

Just be sure you’re prepared to handle the challenges that come with new terrain.

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While there are pluses to job hopping, there are drawbacks, too.

The last thing you want is management fearing that you’ll become disengaged at some point and jump ship like you’ve done at your last few jobs. Too many short jobs on your resume could make some managers unwilling to hire you.

The CareerBuilder survey found that “43 percent of employers won’t consider a candidate who’s had short tenures with several employers.”

And their worry isn’t baseless. Contributor Jeanne Meister wrote at Forbes:

Talent acquisition managers and heads of human resources make a valid case for their wariness of resumes filled with one- to two-year stints. They question such applicants’ motivation, skill level, engagement on the job and ability to get along with other colleagues.

These hiring managers worry they’ll become the next victims of these applicants’ hit-and-run job holding. For companies, losing an employee after a year means wasting precious time and resources on training and development, only to lose the employee before that investment pays off. Plus, many recruiters may assume the employee didn’t have time to learn much at a one-year job.

The decision to job hop ultimately depends on your industry and personal preferences. If you are struggling to make ends meet or saddled with debt, it may be in your best interest to go for a more lucrative opportunity. Keep in mind that it’s generally acceptable when you’re young and new to the working world.

On the other hand, if you can ride the wave, then relax and get those years in so you can establish a track record as a stable and serious employee.

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  • Judy

    Loyalty/longevity = Lower Pay. Over age 35 = Good Luck. “Expectations vary depending on age.” How very true. In beginning jobs at a young age, it’s essential to job hop. However, by the mid-20’s, people need to have at least 2 professions for which they have the education and/or experience. After that, you’re likely to be stuck in one profession and job hopping within the same profession will become the norm, otherwise justifiable raises are very hard to come by. From age 15 to 35, I job hopped 3 times, including having worked for one company for 10 years. Subsequently, I spent 37 years in one profession without necessarily intending to do so. The only way to get a raise (as opposed to a new title), was to change companies. By the time I had reached age 40, I realized that it was too late to change careers, although I loved what I did. Sometimes (once or twice) giving two weeks notice for the sake of a significant pay raise caused my then employer to match the money. But don’t count on that gamble to pay off. Then along came the recession. In order to keep corporate afloat, everyone took a pay cut. Some years later, salaries were increased to the pre-recession level, but medical/dental benefits had continued increase, as had other costs of living. By age 55, or less, corporate was looking for younger people so they could again lower the salaries, but increase the net profits. It wasn’t long before the older (and more experienced and knowledgeable) persons were terminated “due to a reduction in force”. Age discrimination is alive and well! During the 37 year stint in the same profession, I job hopped within that profession at least 5 times in order to gain a fair wage increase, but foolishly both loyalty and my own comfort zone caused me to work for a period of 10 years for 2 companies without increasing my overall income. Education, job experience and choices of profession are essential by 30-35 years of age.