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How Often Is too Often to Change Jobs?

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How Often Is too Often to Change Jobs?

To answer the question, we first need some history on the idea of “job hopping.” A short-term job used to be any position you held for three years or less. And, once upon a time, having more than one of those on your resume could have earned you the label “job hopper” and marked you a flight risk to potential employers.

Today, career planning experts advise employees to stay in a job at least one to three years before moving on, meaning the “job hopper” label is now applied to those holding multiple positions of a year or less.

There are several reasons for this de-stigmatization of shorter job terms. One of them is the recognition by companies that recent college graduates are often unable to secure positions in the fields they studied. Facing high student loan debt, young professionals are taking multiple shorter-term jobs as they gradually make their way toward better pay and the position or field they studied.

More and more employers are also recognizing that entry-level and junior employees are able to master new skills, see a project through to completion (or at least the portion they contribute to), and prove themselves in a short time frame (sometimes only a few months), at which point they’re ready for new challenges and experiences. It would, however, be more unusual and more concerning to see the same pattern on a senior executive’s resume, as it often takes years to see the fruition of initiatives they implemented.

In general, fast-moving tech industries are generally more comfortable with people changing jobs frequently. Industries and career tracks with longer product lifecycles, like engineering, tend to value people staying longer in a single position.

Why You Might Change Jobs

The obvious reasons you might leave your current position include moving due to a partner’s career change or family health needs, you own health, going back to school, or a company going under. These are considered unavoidable life changes and employers shouldn’t look poorly on the resulting job change.

However, there are plenty of other valid reasons to leave your current position—many of which business writers, advisors, and entrepreneurs say you need to consider no matter where you are in your career.

It may be time to jump ship from your current job—regardless of how long you’ve been with the company—if: you receive inadequate financial compensation or benefits; suffer ongoing, daily exhaustion from work; experience lack of upward mobility opportunities or recognition of hard work; work in an undesirable environment; and/or have lost all enthusiasm for your work.

To make the most of the current advice on how you should plan your next career move—or moves—carefully consider the benefits and risks of multiple job moves.

Benefits

  1. Studies have found that staying with a company for over two years without advancement means you have may be paid up to 50% less than if you moved on to other opportunities.
  2. The value of an employer who can grow your talents, expand your skills, and recognize your worth outweighs the dated notion of “stability” in a long tenure job. Does your current employer recognize your talent potential and how you can grow the team/brand?
  3. More progressive and leading-edge companies now view staying in the same position without growth as a sign of passivity, laziness, and apathy—not unwavering loyalty.
  4. Staying in the same company for decades on end can restrict your view on larger industry trends, industry cross-over initiatives, and other movements in related fields. You may fall behind and lose touch.
  5. We know that no business is immune to market changes and economic fluctuations. By cultivating new skills, expanding your business network, and remaining relevant through strategic job shifts, you’ll build your own marketability and job security, so you won’t have to rely on one company keeping you afloat your entire career.
  6. Moving jobs allows you to re-establish your own value and redefine yourself for a new position.
  7. A new job can mean new responsibilities, which keeps your brain elastic and open to new ideas and ways of thinking.

Risks

  1. Frequent job changes that do not show a clear path toward career advancement or career change nor a mastery of new skills (soft or technical) can raise red flags for future employers. The same goes for not listing references for multiple recent jobs because the ending wasn’t amicable or professional.
  2. Leaving a company that frequently promotes from within may mean forgoing a promotion you would be less likely to secure at another job.
  3. If you can still identify skills to master in your current role, you could be better off waiting to look elsewhere until you’ve truly exhausted all opportunity for growth in your current role. This will also give you more bargaining power when you ask for a better salary at your next job!

Unfortunately, people stay in unrewarding jobs and do not seek other opportunities for fear future employers will view them as someone afraid of commitment or hard work. Don’t let this fear hold you back. Instead, plan out how to show each decision to move ties to personal development, added to your skill set, and prepared you for the job you want today.

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