Pros and Cons of Being a Job-Hopper

Years ago it was common for workers to get their first jobs and stay with their organizations for most, if not all, of their careers. Due to shifts in economies, this is no longer the case. Today traditional job paths have significantly changed, especially when you factor globalization into the equation.

job hop

It is not unheard for people to job-hop for a living. According to some statistics, the chances of staying with one or few employers for one's career are now at an all-time low. The most common reasons can be attributed to organizational cutbacks or a desire to frequently switch jobs; the latter is more common with millennials.

Is job-hopping a good way to go about advancing your career or does it become a liability? Realistically, it can be a little of both.

Pros of being a job-hopper

Job-hopping doesn't carry all the baggage it used to. In fact, if the moves are made strategically, it can contribute to solid career growth.

Build toolboxes: By moving from place to place, job-hoppers tend to gain a diversified work experience and learn new skills. Over time, this allows them to broaden their talents (and resumes!), increasing their ability to fit into different types of jobs or organizations.

Expand networks: With every job comes new faces, and job-hoppers continuously make new contacts. As a result, they rapidly broaden their professional networks. As a plus, they also practice honing network skills.

Make more money: Employers who want a candidate are often willing to bump up a salary offer in order to entice a person to come on board. Job-hoppers can use this to their advantage to increase their salaries more quickly than if they stay in one place.

Find that ideal job: Job-hopping allows for a high level of exploration when trying to define one's career path. New jobs mean different environments and industries to try out. (However, beware, this may lead into never being content with a position because they're always chasing that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that never is found).

Demonstrates adaptability: People who stay in one job too long may inadvertently present themselves as being too rigid and adverse to change. In today's fast-moving environments, this could be a liability. However, for the job-hopper, frequently switching jobs highlights an ability to embrace change, be it technology or methodology. Either way, adaptability is an asset to one's portfolio.

Someone who continuously advances in his or her career might be perceived as a good investment if the organization makes an offer solid enough to lock the person in for the long-term. In this case, the pot of gold may be actually found from job-hopping and the ambition pays off.

Cons of being a job-hopper

In days gone by job-hopping was frowned down upon because it tended to show a person as lacking loyalty and being non-committal. Some of these perceptions still exist. While there are definite benefits to job-hopping, it's important to weigh in the disadvantages too.

Commitment concerns: Employers may not be willing to gamble on candidates who tend to jump ship fairly regularly. If a person is hopping for the sake of hopping, this could be a negative as the person might be seen as a flight risk.

Cluttered resume: It can be hard for job-hoppers to construct an attractive resume. Too many jobs look cluttered and, if some of the jobs aren't relevant to the positions applied for, it can give the perception of a weak candidate.

Spotty employment record: Too many jobs can look unstable to employers. Yet, leaving some off will give the perception of a spotty or short work history, which can be unappealing to a potential boss.

Lack of professionalism: Not unlike days past, showing too many jobs can be perceived as being unprofessional and unwilling to stay and honor a contract. Employers may wonder if the candidate will bail at the first sign of difficulty or if he/she is too flighty to stay the course and see a project through.

Less job security: A person who lacks consistency with a job is probably going to be the first person to be let go if cutbacks are made. Those who have demonstrated loyalty and stability will likely be the ones keeping their jobs.

It is expensive to hire and train people and it's not cost-effective to have to continuously bring employees on. In this case, jumping jobs becomes a huge liability. Plus, it could lead to burned bridges, which could actually hurt one's professional network appearance.

However, if a person is moving around and building a strong career path along the way, job-hopping can be a huge plus. Bottom line, it is important to seriously consider any job changes to be sure they don't create an imbalance. If you do job-hop, use it to your advantage and try to minimize the drawbacks.

Search for your next job now:


Back to listing

The Washington Post Jobs Newsletter

Subscribe to the latest news about DC's jobs market