In our parents’ day, job-hopping just wasn’t a thing. People would find a junior role in their early 20s and diligently work their way up the career ladder – staying with a company for as many as 20, 30, or sometimes even (gulp) 40 years. People who changed companies throughout their career likely only did so every five to 10 years, and the longer you stayed in an organisation, the more ‘serious’ you were perceived to be about your job.
A lot – and we do mean a lot – has changed since then. These days, us millennials change jobs as often as they update their social media accounts. If there’s a chance for us to earn more and grow professionally somewhere else, we seize it, and we don’t care if we’ve only been at our current company for less than a year.
There used to be a stigma attached to job-hopping: Hoppers were seen as flighty, irresponsible, unreliable, not having any career goals and incapable of being loyal to an organisation. And yes, while some employers still don’t like the idea of hiring someone who’s held several different positions in as many years, an increasing number actually consider job-hopping a positive thing.
Done right, job-hopping can boost your income and earning potential, widen your professional network and broaden your experience. Here’s how to go about it without ruining your career prospects or tarnishing your professional reputation:
Know your long-term career goals. Every time you’re tempted to leave your job for another one, ask yourself why. Saying “I deserve better” or “Because my current boss is a jerk” aren’t good enough reasons. Switching jobs just because another company is dangling more money in front of your face isn’t wise, either. If you do accept another offer, it should be because the new role presents new challenges and opportunities and will help you achieve your career goals. So, look at the big picture and be picky: decide where you’re headed, and once you do, you’ll know which jobs can help your career in the long run and which ones won’t.
Get the most out of every job. If job-hopping is a serious career strategy for you, make every job count. That means learning, contributing and accomplishing as much as you can in every new role. The more skills you pick up and the more impressive your contributions, the better your job changes will look on your resume and the faster you’ll be able to achieve your career goals.
Don’t burn your bridges. As you move from company to company, be sure to always leave on good terms. That means not telling everybody that you can’t wait to leave your current position and move on to something better. It also means not getting defensive or taking it personally if your current boss makes it known that she’s not happy you’re moving to a new company. If you’re asked to give your reasons for leaving at your exit interview, be professional and tell your HR manager that your new role offers greater challenges and responsibilities. Whatever you do, don’t act bitter, and don’t bad-mouth your boss and colleagues, no matter how terrible they are.
Help with the transition. Just because you got a better offer, it doesn’t mean that you should leave your company in the lurch. If your boss already has someone in mind to take your place, ask how you can help that person transition into her new role. References are important when you change jobs often, so you want to always project a professional, helpful and cooperative image.
How to play up your job-hopping at your next interview
Talk up your skills: Having worked in multiple jobs in multiple companies over the years also means that you’ve accumulated a range of experience and skills. Be sure to play this up during your interview as well as on your resume. Show your interviewer how all your previous jobs have contributed to your professional growth and improved your overall skillset. Of course, you don’t want to rattle off a whole array of skills that have nothing to do with the job you’re being interviewed for. Pick out the ones that are most relevant and important and the ones that your interviewer would find most impressive.
Highlight your accomplishments: Don’t feel shy about discussing your contributions to your last few companies. Job-hoppers aren’t regarded as the most loyal of employees, but if you can show that you made worthwhile contributions in your previous roles, it means that you were invested enough in your job and company to make a positive difference.
Don’t complain about your past jobs, bosses or colleagues: Even if your previous job paid poorly and offered zero challenges or opportunities for growth, or your ex-bosses and co-workers were THE WORST, the last thing you want to come across as is bitter and resentful. Whatever your gripes are with your previous employers, keep a lid on it or your interviewer might think that your main reason for quitting is because you have a problem with authority or that you’re not a ‘people person’.