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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > -Mar-06


Monday 13-Mar-06

Job hopping and careers

A friend recently asked me about job-hopping, pointing out an article here that recommends job-hopping and a response here that recommends otherwise.

One underlying question is how employers promote. If they largely promote from within, then job-hopping is probably a not a good idea. Sadly or otherwise, many employers look at their own people and see their weaknesses, then look at people outside with rose-tinted spectacles. When companies promote from without, then job-hopping may be the best way to get on with your career.

A big magic word is trust, which is the fuel of relationships. If you job hop a lot, then a future employer is going to look at your CV/resume and wonder how long you are going to stay with them. They also need to understand how trustworthy you are and might wonder why you left so many jobs.

Job hopping has risk attached, both for the job-hopper and their new employer. Interviews are a crude tool that often result in the wrong person being recruited. And the interview process is mostly one way -- it is easy to end up in a company where you hate what is going on and how you are treated?. You must also consider benefits, which often don't kick in until three months into your new position. Of course some organizations, like UCLA benefits and education jobs, have exceptions. ?.Still, The grass may seem greener on the other side of the hill, but it seldom is. 

Another key question to consider is of supply and demand. If you are in a profession where demand is greater than supply, you can hop jobs to get more money, secure in the knowledge that if things don't work out, you can easily go elsewhere.

Duration is important. If you change jobs every ten years, some companies might think you lack dynamism. But if you job-hop every six months, potential employers may see you as fickle and unable to hold down a job. Recruitment is an expensive process, particularly when you consider that recruitment agencies get paid three months of the target salary or or more for placing a person. In any industry there is an acceptable period after which changing jobs is considered legitimate.

My personal career has gone all over the place and my job-change period over many years is about two years and sometimes much less, particularly when moving to different roles within the same organization. I spent 15 years at HP, but job hopped internally all of the time, going from a deep techie to a broad business consultant by a rather tortuous route. I never stopped learning and managed to build a credible body of knowledge. I have been lucky and have enjoyed myself, but I did so by going sideways rather than up. I have earned good money, have a comfortable life, and am grateful.

So. You pays your money and you takes your choice. Job-hopping can get you up the ladder and more money. It can also get you into jobs that you hate and fragment your careers and make you look flighty and untrustworthy. All I can recommend to those considering it is make informed choices and consider your personal integrity.

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