What Are the Pros and Cons of Job Hopping?
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With the job market on fire, many people are considering switching jobs.
While there are plenty of advantages to making a move after some time in a position, you must do so with a plan.
You’ve most likely heard the phrase “job hopper.”
It's a term used to describe people who hop from job to job in relatively short timespans, never staying in a role long enough to settle in.
Job hopping is often considered a negative trait that a potential employer may see as a red flag.
If you've held several jobs over a short period, does this mean you're going to have a hard time finding employment? Not necessarily.
People leave employment for various reasons, some more explainable than others.
Often, people quit their jobs early on because they realize there's little upward mobility.
Others leave within a few short months because they're interested in more flexibility, or they need to make more money.
Should You Change Jobs Again?
When deciding to leave a job, especially if you have a job-hopping history, you want to do so strategically to not affect your career path.
Before you submit your resignation, consider the following benefits and drawbacks of jumping from job to job.
Pro #1 – Increase Your Earnings Quicker
In today's economy, most people aren't seeing the reward of a significant pay increase for staying in their current role at their present company.
The average company gives their employees 3% annual pay raises.
When you do the math, that's not a lot of extra cash to pad your bank account. For many people, it's only enough to support their morning drive-thru coffee habit.
Even getting promoted within the same company doesn't guarantee a pay raise.
Often, employees discover that all they attain once they get the promotion is more responsibility without a decent bump in earnings.
The better option for a salary increase is to look for a job at a different company in a higher-level position.
If your goal is to increase your income in significant increments, staying with your current company for several years won't help you achieve that goal.
Instead, be strategic about how you increase your earnings.
Decide where you want your salary level to be within the next five and 10 years, then base your moves on that information.
Your resume won't take as much of a hit, and you're more likely to earn what you're worth.
Pro #2 – You Gain Experience in Diverse Environments
Another argument in favor of job-hopping is that it affords you incredible opportunities to work in diverse environments.
Staying with the same employer for years on end isn't broadening your expertise and won't help you grow your professional network.
You may not develop new skills at the same rate as if you were to change positions and work with different peers and leadership in a new environment.
Being exposed to various workplace cultures can also help you decide what your ideal work situation is.
However, you must plan your timeline carefully. To fully develop knowledge and broaden your skillset effectively, you need at least six months – or even a year or two with an employer.
Again, it's about being strategic and not moving from job to job without a clear sense of your end career goal.
Pro #3 – You Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist, said it best when he stated, “One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth.”
When people stay in positions for job security, they may grow complacent. They're no longer challenged and lose the energy and excitement that often comes with a new opportunity.
When taking personal time off or going on a relaxing vacation doesn't re-energize you, it's time to move on.
Being around new colleagues and having a new boss is often the supreme remedy for improving your performance.
Should You Stay?
With so many enticing reasons for job-hopping, could there be reasons to stay?
As with any decision, you must weigh the pros and the cons. And, yes, there are drawbacks of bouncing from one job to the next.
Let's look at a few of those drawbacks below.
Con #1 – Employers See You as a Risk
A lot goes into hiring a new employee well beyond the interview process and the initial acceptance. Employers invest time, energy, and money into the people they hire and train to work for their companies.
No one wants to spend weeks onboarding a new employee only to have them quit after a few months.
When a resume shows a colorful job history within a short duration, employers question the candidate's staying power.
Today's employers are realistic. They know that it's rare for people to retire with the same company they've been at for 30+ years. Yet, choppy work histories make employers nervous.
If you have a job history that employers will question, be prepared to explain why you switched positions so often.
Con #2 – You're Always the New Person
One of the principal advantages of staying with a company for an extended period is that you begin to earn the trust of your boss and colleagues. You're trusted to do your job, and every decision doesn't have to be run by someone with more authority.
Switching jobs left and right means you're always the new person. You may struggle to build strong professional relationships when you skip climbing one corporate ladder to start climbing a new one.
It takes time to build a rapport with your superiors. Depending on the position, they won't always let you run with the ball right away.
Con #3 – Always Playing Catch Up with Benefits
Most full-time positions offer benefit packages with health insurance, retirement matching, and sick/personal leave.
A lot of job hoppers weigh the pros and cons based on salary and job responsibilities. What they tend to forget about is that changing employers means switching employee benefits.
Do you want to change health plans or deal with rolling over your 401(k) contributions frequently?
Sometimes the job change is worth this hassle. Other times, it isn't.
When to Hop Over to a New Position
The right time to initiate a job change depends on many factors. No one wants to be stuck in a position they hate or working in an environment that isn't supporting their career goals.
Unfortunately, many people stick with positions and companies because they're afraid of what their resumes will look like to future hiring managers if they leave.
The truth is, today's employers know that people eventually move on, especially young people just starting out in their careers.
No one starts with the perfect job. But job-hopping aimlessly won't help.
A well-thought-out career plan is an intentional way to leave one job for another (and another) without appearing directionless and achieve the career gains you desire.
A final pro tip and recommended articles: If you're struggling to figure out a plan or whether to change career fields, consider hiring a career coach.
- Should I Quit My Job to Freelance? [The Pros & Cons]
- Going Freelance? Do these things before diving in
- Multiple Part-Time Jobs vs 1 Full-Time Position
Written by Women Who Money Cofounders Vicki Cook and Amy Blacklock.
Amy and Vicki are the coauthors of Estate Planning 101, From Avoiding Probate and Assessing Assets to Establishing Directives and Understanding Taxes, Your Essential Primer to Estate Planning, from Adams Media.