Does Switching Jobs Hurt Your Career?

“Stay at a company for at least two years.” I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been on the receiving end of this advice and heard the same advice passed on to others. Everyone from your colleagues to your family have an opinion on this topic, and as someone who has worked in recruitment for several years and receives detailed resume feedback on the regular from hiring teams, I can tell you that the answer to the question is complicated.

On one hand, there are clear benefits of job hopping. On the other hand, it can impact your reputation and the perception of you as an employee and a candidate.

THE GOOD

Career Advancement

When you job hop (change jobs every 1-2 years), you have the potential to go further faster, especially early in your career when you’re trying to build up a portfolio of skills, knowledge and experience to take on more responsibility. You’re not waiting for that ‘next job’ to come up in your current company and quickly taking on more senior titles.

Job Satisfaction

Switching jobs can help you to find the right company for you. One where you can see yourself staying for the longer term where you have a great team and growth opportunities. If you’re absolutely miserable in a job where there is no resolution, staying in it for years is going to be pretty painful.

Compensation

Changing jobs can be a very lucrative way to increase your salary. Studies have shown that employees who stick around in their current job and company can expect a 3% average annual raise, whereas changing your job/company will get you a 10-20% increase in your salary.

THE BAD

Perception

You may be dismissed by hiring managers. While many employers have become more accepting of shorter periods of employment, I would be lying if I hadn’t supported teams who dismissed resumes of candidates who changed companies every 1-3 years. Hiring managers may not want to invest their time and resources into someone they believe will only stay for a year or two. 

Have Reasoning

If you are a job hopper, it’s likely you’ll be asked about your frequent moves, even if they’re legitimate (maybe you relocated, were a contract worker, or your job was eliminated). Be prepared to explain the reasoning behind each of your moves and tell your story.

It’s Taxing

When you only spend a year or two at each organization, you’re constantly settling in and having to re-prove yourself which can be taxing and stressful.

All in all, changings jobs every few years has clear benefits and where it makes sense and you’re able to explain your reasoning, it can be the right move. But it can be taxing on you to do it frequently while also leaving some hiring managers with the perception that you’re not looking for something long term, even if you are.

If the goal of your next move is to find a place that you stay for the long term, make sure you do your research on the job, the company and the culture to learn as much as you can up front and increase your likelihood of staying. Ask questions and try to get a sense of what it would be like to really work at that company and what advancement and development looks like so that you can make an informed decision on an offer.

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