The Right and Wrong Time to Job Hop


Switching jobs more frequently has become more accepted, but is it good for your career in the long term? Job hopping has benefits, especially in the short term, but the long term consequences could go either way.

How Often Do You Hop?

According to Krsitina Cowan at AOL News, whereas a generation ago, the average person changed jobs seven times over a lifetime, today it’s more likely to be 10 jobs. And in five different careers. Job hopping is becoming so commonplace among workers in their 20s and 30s that managers are starting to expect people to leave after two or three years. If you stick around longer that’s icing on the cake.

When to Hop

Hop For Money
You will almost always see a pay increase when you switch from one job to another. This is sort of a chicken and egg thing, though because more money is a huge reason people want to change jobs in the first place. Don’t we all know someone who left one company for a big raise and a promotion at another, only to return to the first company for at an even higher rate of pay and responsibility a few years later?

Hop for Networking
The more people you know the easier it will be successful, or perhaps even get that next position – once you’re ready to hop again.

Hop for Professional Development
A lot of people are simple maxed out in their current position or company. A new employer can teach workers new skills and build on those they already have, maximizing potential.

One Oklahoma City recruiter thinks job hopping will become less of an issue as the Baby Boomers begin to retire.

This will create a large need in the marketplace where skills and experience will outweigh company loyalty and dedication. This is also coupled with the fact that those in these new positions of power who will be making these hiring decisions are also those who come from the generation where job hopping is commonplace and more accepted.

When Not to Hop

Employees should never leave a job solely to get out of a situation they are unhappy with. Instead, as Your HR Guy suggests, they should bide their time while preparing for another, better career path.

The solution isn’t to job hop and hurt yourself. That is dumb. People hate biding time so instead of doing this, they switch jobs (into another crappy job where they’ll want to move on) and perpetuate the cycle. It sucks, I’ve seen people fall into it.

You also want to make sure you’ve exhausted all opportunities within a job and a company before setting your sights elsewhere. It may just be that you can hop to another role while sticking with the same firm a bit longer.

The truth is that others’ perceptions of you are going to have an effect on the potential of any new position. If you’re perceived as someone who won’t be around in 6 months or a year, what kind of opportunities do you think will come your way?

When were the best and worst times you hopped?

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  • Jurgen

    This seems like questionable advice, at best. I can’t think of a better reason to job hop than if you’re in a crappy job with a bad company. I just did so recently and it was the best move I’ve made in a long time.

    Money, networking and professional development are all great, but your article doesn’t once touch on job satisfaction or the cultivation of a sense of contribution and professional worth. If you’re not happy in your job everything else will suffer. Get a job you like, and if you’re in a job you hate, get out before it makes you bitter and undermines your confidence.

  • I can agree with some of the points here. I hopped after being at my first job out of college for almost four years and absolutely miserable for the last two. I hopped to the first job that I was offered, for less money. Financially that was a ridiculous idea. I ended up discovering quickly it was not a good fit either, BUT I received some fantastic skills from it and a huge network of both national and international contacts.

    Learning from that experience, the next time I hopped it was to something that was both more money and doing something I was truly passionate about. I cannot describe what a perfect decision this was for me. As I hopped to this position, I was offered another one for more money. It would have added to my professional development in other areas, but at the end of the day I chose the job I knew in my gut I’d be happiest at.

    I’m glad I did.

  • Daniel

    Sometimes, it’s the luck of the draw of what the HR manager thinks of a job hopper. You may encounter and “old school” who frowns on someone who has changed organizations every year, and then there are some HR managers that think nothing at all of it. On average, I think more organizations are looking more into the reasons why someone left versus the amount of time they spent at a past job. I have four jobs on my resume from the past six years and one of them I was at for only eight months. Given that I left that one for an organization that I stayed with over three years, the only question that ever came up is “why did you leave X company so shortly?” Everybody’s situation is unique, but more organizations notice the fine line between negative job hopping and frequent career advancement. Some people are job hoppers because they simply cannot hold a job down for various reasons, and yet there are others who can work their way up fairly quickly. Regardless, I would never suggest someone stay at a job they are miserable with, however, you may be in a situation that you may have to grit your teeth and bear with it for awhile. Just don’t let it become a consistant pattern where you are constantly having to explain a short tenure with an employer because at some point, it can be negative.