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Pros and Cons of Job Hopping

Matt Tarpey, CareerBuilder writer

In today’s workforce, particularly when it comes to the younger generation, staying in a position for only a short period of time before moving onto the next opportunity – or job hopping – is fairly common.

So what is so attractive about this career path, and why might some shy away from it? Here are some key pros and cons of job hopping:

Con: Employers want commitment
The most frequently cited potential downside to job hopping is that a history of short tenures with multiple companies will send red flags to employers. To understand this, it’s important to consider the situation from the employers’ perspective.

“You become a risky hire for new companies,” says David B. Nast, business leadership coach and corporate trainer. “Training and on boarding [are] very costly, and some companies won’t risk the financial investment if they think you will leave in one-two years. It becomes a roll of the dice for the employers, no matter how good your [CV] looks.”

Pro: You can gain experience, fast
One of the biggest potential benefits of job hopping is the rapidity with which you can gain useful career experience and of a wider variety than you might otherwise gain staying in one position.

“With new skills under your belt and a better understanding of the environment you thrive in, you are able to reflect on your work experience to determine other industries where that experience applies,” says Dan Campbell, CEO of Hire Dynamics. “It’s still not ideal to job hop for no reason, but if you can come to the interview prepared to engage in a dialogue about the reasons for the moves and how your experiences have positively influenced your business competencies, it’ll be an asset to your portfolio of work, rather than a red flag.”

Con: It is harder to build relationships
Soft skills are often considered a potential weakness in job hoppers. Building relationships takes time, and many job hoppers may not stay in a position long enough to allow those relationships to develop. As a result, your professional network may suffer.

“You don’t develop deep connections within your industry. Your professional network is often the key to future employment, especially with the plum positions,” says Cheryl E. Palmer, owner of Call to Career. “If you job hop regularly, you never get to know your colleagues well enough to cultivate deep relationships with them. Since most people find employment through their network, this can be a real downside to frequent job hopping.”

Pro: You can attain a higher salary
Another attractive upside to job hopping is the opportunity to quickly increase your personal take-home. Savvy job hoppers understand that the pay-bump associated with accepting a new job usually outpaces the typical salary raise long-term employees can expect.

“When people switch jobs and are able to negotiate new packages, they can get anywhere from a 10-20 per cent increase in salary and benefits,” says Rachel Ritlop, career and business coach. “Whereas, if you stay at the same job year after year, you can expect a typical more standardised annual raise between 1-5 per cent. You will basically be leaving money on the table.”

Con: Some skills require time
While many point out that job hopping is an excellent way to build your skills and experience, in some cases it may have the opposite effect. After all, the more time you spend with a company, the larger an impact you can make.

“You may not be able to reap the full benefits offered by the position in terms of skill growth and development, seeing a significant project to fruition, and/or making a meaningful impact to a company’s bottom line,” says Dr. Steven Lindner, executive partner of The WorkPlace Group.

There are some major trade-offs associated with job hopping. Quicker advancement and higher pay come with the looming threat of less job security. You gain a wider, more varied set of work experiences, but may miss out on experiences that only come from staying with a company for a longer stretch of time.

As with most risky endeavours, job hopping is great for young workers just starting their careers but may prove less beneficial over time. It can be tempting to leverage recent success into a new, more profitable job opportunity, but doing this too frequently can be a risk to your long-term personal brand. A good indicator that it may be time to leave is whether you believe there’s anything left for you to accomplish at your current position.

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