In today’s job market, it’s becoming increasingly common for professionals to switch jobs every few years in search of new opportunities for growth and development. It is by far, one of the most common services people book me for as a career coach. This practice, known as job hopping, can be an effective way to advance your career and increase your earning potential no matter your job level or industry.
However, many people are doing job hoping wrong and jeopardizing their career and risking their professional reputation. As a career coach, I help professionals understand why responsible job hopping is important and how to job hop in a way that doesn’t burn bridges with former employers and colleagues.
In this post, we’ll explore the art of job hopping, including the benefits and potential downsides of this practice, as well as tips for effectively moving between jobs while maintaining positive relationships with your former coworkers.
Reasons why people job hop
Whether you are seriously considering or casually entertaining the idea of a new job, most professionals are at least open to the experience of having a conversation to hear about a potential new role, especially if it meets more of their life needs than their current role. Not to say loyalty to a single company for 40 years is dead in the professional world now, but admittedly, it’s rare and honestly, most companies aren’t doing enough to retain their employees by offering growth opportunities or better work-life balance.
It’s easy to understand why many professionals choose to switch jobs to pursue opportunities for career growth, including elements like a higher salary, a more challenging role, or a chance to work in a different industry. Other people leave their current jobs to achieve a better work-life balance, such as a job with more flexible hours, more time off, or the ability to work remotely.
Another reason people switch jobs is to gain new skills or experience in a particular area, such as learning a new programming language or working with a different type of client. If a company isn’t willing to help employees upskill or keep growing in their skillset, they will likely leave. Having a developed Professional Development Plan can help you and your manager get on the same page in terms of your goals, how they can best support you, and what level of funding you require to attend training or go to conferences to reach those goals.
Company culture is another cited concern I hear frequently when I am coaching people through job transitions. Workplace culture can be a deciding factor for many job seekers, especially in a hot job market where employees have a choice where they work. If a company’s culture isn’t a good fit, employees may look for other opportunities where they feel more comfortable and valued.
The last reason people job hop? You guessed it, bad management. Poor managers can be a significant source of stress and frustration for employees. If you’ve experienced a bad manager, you know how much of an impact they can have on your mental health and overall well-being at work. Deciding when it is no longer healthy for you to stay in a bad job is an important skill to develop in your career. If you are not happy with your manager or feel your contributions are not valued, it’s time to look for another job.
Benefits of job hopping
Job hopping is becoming more and more popular among Gen Zers and Millennials who are always looking for new opportunities to grow and learn. And let’s be real, most of us are very happy to accept a higher salary and better benefits in our next job. Switching jobs can help you achieve just that, as well as provide you with the chance to find a better fit in terms of company culture.
Switching jobs can provide opportunities for career advancement that just may simply not exists at your current employer. You may be able to take on new responsibilities, work on more high-profile projects, or move up the ladder faster than you would have if you stayed put where you are now. Plus, you’ll get to learn new skills and gain experience in different industries and work environments, which can make you a more well-rounded and desirable candidate for future jobs.
One of the most significant benefits of job hopping is the potential for increasing your salary and benefits. There are very few times in our careers we get to negotiate salary than when interviewing and prospecting a new role. This is the time to leverage all your experience and expertise to explain why you should command a higher salary and more robust benefits package.
When done correctly, I’ve seen my clients double their salary in 3-6 years by combining job hopping with upskilling quickly and executing their ability to articulate why they are worth a company investing in hiring them. Negotiation is an art, you can learn it and you can practice it, and as a career professional, it might be one of the most important things you master in your tenure as a working professional.
Potential downsides of job hopping
Alright, if you’ve made it this far in the article, you are probably pretty convinced job hopping is the best pathway forward for you and your career. Maybe, maybe not. Let’s review some of the protentional downsides of job hopping so you have all the information.
Firstly, you need to understand how your specific industry perceives the value of staying put in a role long enough before moving on to a new role. I work in academia in my full-time job, and we stay in roles for longer periods of time compared to say the technology or consulting industries. If you change jobs too often or too quickly after starting a new role, hiring managers may develop a perception of you being unreliable or not knowing what you want, which can cause them to have hesitation about your candidacy. On average, staying in a role for at least 2 years is a good benchmark regardless of industry as it gives you a year to learn and perfect the role and another year to show unique value-add and how you were able to make it your own through demonstrable impact or accomplishment.
Another element to consider is what benefits, seniority, or job security you might be losing by switching jobs frequently. When you leave a job, you’ll likely lose some of the benefits and seniority you’ve accrued over time. This could mean starting over with vacation time, retirement savings, and other perks.
When your market is healthy, you don’t need to worry too much about job security, but when things are a little more volatile and layoffs are happening, having job security and seniority might save you when the layoff axe swings. When you move between jobs frequently, it can make it more difficult to establish job security and build a long-term career at a particular company.
Lastly, consider the people you are leaving behind when leaving a job. You spend 40 hours a week at work, and you’ve probably spent time developing relationships with colleagues, some of which may have even turned into personal friendships. When you switch jobs frequently, it can be challenging to build and maintain professional relationships with your colleagues and managers. This can make it harder to establish a strong network that can help you advance your career in the long term.
How to effectively job hop
If you feel job hopping is in your best interest, there is a right way and a wrong way to do so. Let’s explore this step by step on how to effectively job hop:
STEP 1: Evaluate your reasons for wanting to leave: Before you start looking for a new job, take some time to evaluate why you want to leave your current position. Are you looking for more challenging work, better pay, or better company culture? Knowing your reasons for wanting to leave can help you focus your job search and find a position that meets your needs.
STEP 2: Research potential employers and job opportunities: Once you’ve identified why you want to leave, start researching potential employers and job opportunities that align with your career goals. Look for companies that offer the type of work you’re interested in, as well as a culture and work environment that will be a good fit for you. When interviewing for new jobs, be sure to highlight the skills and experiences you gained through your job-hopping experience. This can demonstrate to potential employers that you’re adaptable, flexible, and able to learn quickly in different work environments.
STEP 3: Give proper notice and leave on good terms: When you’re ready to leave your current job, make sure to give proper notice and leave on good terms with your employer. This means providing at least two weeks’ notice and being professional and respectful throughout the resignation process. Leaving on good terms can help you maintain a positive reputation in your industry and keep your professional network intact.
STEP 4: Stay in touch with former colleagues and employers: Even after you’ve left your job, it’s important to stay in touch with former colleagues and employers. This can help you maintain professional relationships that may be valuable in the future, such as for job references or networking opportunities.
There is no one right way to manage your career. Sometimes it makes sense to leave jobs more frequently than average and other times, it makes sense to stay put and grow where you are. If you have a company that is willing to grow with you in terms of pay, skills, opportunities, etc. you might want to consider staying. If your role or company is not meeting your needs, it might be the right time to engage in informational interviewing to see what else is out there.
Also, know that your career needs will change over time. So perhaps in your 20’s you are more willing to job hop, whereas in your 30s and 40s, you need more stability in your career as you have more pressing needs in your personal life. Your career is your career, so make it what you need it to be and what you want it to be!
Hi! My name is Nadia Ibrahim-Taney and I help people design happy and fulfilling careers through authentic career coaching. My expertise includes career exploration guidance, resume writing, interview prep and LinkedIn profile optimization. My pronouns are She/ Her/ Hers and as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I focus on how diverse identities impact and influence folks holistically and professionally. Please connect with me on LinkedIn through my website.
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