The Pros and Cons of Job Hopping

Thinking about jumping ship for a new job opportunity? Here are three reasons why that may be a good idea — and a few potential drawbacks of such a strategy.

Convinced that you should remain loyal to a job, even if you loathe the thought of being there each day?

Or 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 cameo appearances in the workplace are coming to an end in a number of industries.

Last year, CareerBuilder published the results of a survey that found that job hopping does not always carry a stigma:

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 — 41 percent
  • Transportation — 37 percent
  • Retail — 36 percent
  • Manufacturing — 32 percent

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

1. You may find better pay 

Earlier this year, CNN Money talked to several workers who said job hopping has boosted their salary by as much as 31 percent in just a few years.

More than ever, companies are scouring through 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.

So, what incentive do you have to stay if money is your motive?

2. You may clarify what you really want

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. And if you are trapped in a job or career you dislike, it could lead to bigger issues — like depression — later on.

3. You may look more versatile

Adaptability is a good thing. Some recruiters value a wide range of experience because it means you’re versatile, and have the 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.

Potential drawbacks to job hopping

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 repeat the job-hopping patterns of your past. 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.”

Also, job hopping is something that’s considered more acceptable from younger employees, according to the CareerBuilder survey:

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.

Finally, contributor Jeanne Meister wrote at Forbes that a series of one- to two-year stints at jobs lead some potential employers to question an applicant’s 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.

Do you think job hopping is more likely to help or to hinder your career? Share your thoughts in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.

Stacy Johnson

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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.

  • Michael Smiley Gawthrop

    One big thing to keep in mind is what the expected tenure is for the position you are in. The job I’m in right now is one that, assuming you have the proper education, takes less than a week of training to get you going and only a couple of months to get up to full speed, and they fully expect that within two or three years you will want to move onto something else. The larger companies can offer to move people up at that point, but the smaller companies know to expect to have to deal with the turnover. In those cases, potential employers may be suspicious if you are in the position too long… why haven’t you tried for something better already?

  • cybrarian_ca

    In my field, it is difficult to get established, and most people begin with a number of contract, part time, short term, and temporary positions. So when I hire, I don’t fault early career candidates for short term positions. If it continues well into mid-career, that’s another consideration. But anyone can have a couple of bad jobs. What I look for is at least some longer stays in later positions. If someone has a couple of 5-year-plus tenures, interspersed with a couple of shorter ones, I figure they’re probably okay.

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