Job hopping can make you look motivated, flexible, and well-rounded to some employers. It can also make you seem unreliable. How should you deal with these perceptions? What are the positives and negatives of switching jobs every few years?
We went to the experts. Laurie Lopez, Tracy Cashman, Steve Kasmouski, Dave Sanford, Frank Dadah, and Stu Coleman, all of Waltham-based recruiting firm WinterWyman, gave their opinions and advice on job hopping.
Pro: Lots of experience
Performing a variety of jobs can lead to a diverse resume. This may appeal to some employers, Lopez said. “Depending on your background, job hopping can be good because you gain experience in many different technical environments which can broaden your skills and make you more marketable,” she said.
It’s not enough, though, to have a long list of job titles or employers on your resume. It’s important to show that your experience was worthwhile for you and the company.
“Probably the most important thing is to be able to demonstrate that no matter where you worked or for how long, that you were someone who was critical to the success of a project or the company as a whole,” Kasmouski said. “Your resume should tell the reader why you were important to the success of some project or company and should show that you have grown over time gaining increased responsibility, scope and success.” Next
Pro: Motivation to improve career
Maybe you’re job hopping because you see better opportunities elsewhere. This can work to your advantage.
“Companies may feel that those people are not motivated enough in their career progression or are so ingrained in a particular culture or way of thinking that they won’t be able to adapt to a new environment,” Cashman said. “If you are fortunate enough to move often, you probably can point to experience in a number of different industries and exposure to a variety of challenges which can lead companies to feel you are flexible and a quick learner.”
Kasmouski seconded this advice, saying that a 15 to 20 year tenure at one company could make companies concerned about your complacence. Next
Pro: Wide network
The more places you work, the more people you meet. This makes it easy for job hoppers to quickly make a lot of connections. Cashman suggested including one or two people from each of your last three or four jobs on your list of references.
“Often those that do move frequently are being recruited by people they have worked for or with previously which can be another positive check mark on your record,” Cashman said. Next
Pro: Getting the promotion
Job hopping does not always equal company hopping. Sometimes it simply indicates your success and value to a single employer. “Oftentimes the job hopping is for a promotion so you are viewed as being an asset,” Dadah said. Next
Pro: Ability to be flexible
Even if you’ve stayed within the same industry, job hopping usually requires the ability to learn new skills and adapt to work environments quickly. This can be a positive for positions that demand flexibility.
“Short of 15 years with the same company, the benefits of job moving are in the eye of the beholder,” Coleman said. “If it is a smaller, younger, more progressive company, then they will appreciate that someone is flexible, well rounded and up for a challenge. A more reserved, more established company will think they are job hoppers. Next
Con: Lack of loyalty
This was the biggest negative WinterWyman’s experts pointed out. Lopez explained why tenure and loyalty are important to employers.
“It shows that you can battle adversity and grow within a company versus jumping ship if things get tough,” she said. “If a hiring manager is reviewing a resume of someone that has jumped around, that shows that either they haven’t been able to be successful in past positions so they left or were asked to leave or they have poor judgment when making employment decisions.” Next
Con: Don’t know what you want
This is probably not a concern for job hoppers who have held similar work throughout their ever-changing careers. Those who jump around industries are likelier to raise eyebrows.
“(Job hopping) may give the appearance that you don’t know what you want to do,” Dadah said. Next
Con: No references
While job hopping can help you build up a network, it can also make things more difficult. It’s important to include references from your previous positions. Candidates with a lengthy list of short stints will have a harder time leaving a lasting impression and keeping in touch with prospective references.
Try your best to get a reference or two from each position.
“Any place that you don’t have a reference from can raise a red flag on the part of a potential employer—they may think that you were asked to leave versus choosing to leave for the next great opportunity,” Cashman said. Next
Con: Can’t succeed at a job
Several WinterWyman experts said too much movement may indicate you’re unable to remain employed.
“Too much hopping and all the good is trumped by ‘can’t hold a job’ and ‘can’t make a commitment,’ ” Sanford said. “Conversely, a candidate that has found success in just one company will be suspect. Can he scale and take what he knows and use those skills in a completely new setting?” Back to the beginning
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