The world of work and how we approach our careers has changed dramatically, especially in the last few decades years. For my parent’s generation, a job for life was still a thing and moving companies didn’t happen as regularly as it does today.
I know when I entered the workforce nearly 20 years ago, I was told to stick at a job for at least 3 years before even considering moving. As it was, I stayed there for 5 years, followed by a 10-year stint at my next employer. During this role, I was involved in recruiting and it was here that I noticed the three-year rule seemed to have disappeared.
Not only did many of our young recruits move on after perhaps 12 months (or less) many had done so before, with more jobs on their CV than I had on mine. Despite me being at least 10 years their senior. My initial reaction was to judge CVs with lots of short tenures with suspicion. Why were they job hopping, did they not have any stamina and jumped ship when it got too hard? Were they not very good at their role and moved before they were asked to leave? Would they do the same to us, and disappear as quickly as they arrived? However, I soon realised that if I discounted every CV that fell into my suspicious job history category. I wouldn’t be left with many. It seems that job hopping is the new norm.
So, what is too short and how many is too many? What impact does job hopping have on your career, both positive and negative?
Experience – moving roles on a regular basis can allow you to build up a vast range of experiences that you’d fail to get in a single role. Therefore making you more attractive to potential employers.
Exposure – every company does things differently and by working at a variety of employers you get to see this first-hand and build up a set of skills and experiences that you wouldn’t get with a single employer.
Fast track – it’s no secret that the best way to move up the career ladder can be to move employer. It generally takes at least 2 years to be promoted internally. For the ambitious amongst us, why wait that long when you can change jobs and get there in 18 months.
Money – with a promotion comes more money. If you’re lucky you might receive a 2-3% pay rise each year, but moving roles can see your salary jump by 10%. 10 years with one employer vs 5 different jobs and the difference in potential earnings start to add up…
But just as there are pluses there are always negatives… Constant moving from one role to another can also damage your career.
Loyalty – just as I did when looking at CVs, recruiters will judge the loyalty of potential recruits. Recruiting is a time-consuming and costly business and if you only stay at every company 18 months then it will get to a point when an employer is not willing to hire you. They won’t want to risk you leaving them in the lurch 18 months later.
Reliability – while a few short tenures is understandable, having too many will make you look unreliable. This will become even more important the further you move up the career ladder. If you’re looking to move into a leadership position or one with some level of power. Those hiring will want someone reliable, that they can trust to be around for, if not the long, then at least the medium-term.
Job-security – if you’re always the last one in, you’re statistically more likely to be the first one out. You don’t build up time to become indispensable, letting you go will be a relatively painless process.
Growth – perhaps I am biased having spent a fair amount of time with each of my employers. But I’ve learnt so much and grown by spending time in one place. I saw projects from concept to completion and was around to do them again, but better, the following year and the year after that. By moving on quickly, you tend to lose that long-term perspective and the growth and learning opportunities that brings.
In my opinion it’s not a bad thing to have some movement on your CV, as above it can help to give your career a bit of a boost, can stop you staying in a negative environment longer than you’d like (just so it looks good on your CV) but job hopping needs to be approached with an element of caution. When you find a company you like, then stay, don’t move because you feel you have to. I once had a highly ambitious marketer in my team who was desperate to take the next step and move into a people management role. At the time of asking it wasn’t something that was possible, but rather than move, they stayed put. 6 months later things within the department had changed dramatically and they took on a team of 3. When they did eventually leave, they did so for a drastically more senior role, one that, if they’d have left initially, they wouldn’t have had the experience for.