Job hopping: How much is too much?

Between the ages of 20 and 30, most people have more than 8 jobs. This is a positive thing for a number of reasons. First of all, Daniel Gilbert, psychologist at Harvard, says that we really don’t know what we’ll like until we try it. So having a lot of jobs when you start your adult life is a good way to figure out what to do with your adult life.

But, job hopping is a good thing for everyone to do – not just twentysomethings – because it’s a way to maintain passion in your work. Frequent changes keep your learning curve high and your challenges fresh. Finally, frequent job hopping, coupled with high performance allows you to build a professional network much faster than someone who stays in one position over a long period of time. And a vibrant network will make finding jobs easier, so job hopping will not be a difficult path.

Human resource people complain a lot about job hopping. They say companies would rather hire someone who stays a long time at companies because that will mean the person will stay a long time at their company. Of course this is true.

It’s clear that job hopping benefits the employee, not the employer. But when the majority of young people are job hopping, and companies are having a hard time attracting young people to work recruiters don’t have the luxury of writing people off just because they job hopped. Recruiters write people off because their resume looks like they won’t contribute enough to the company.

So, the trick with job hopping is to make sure your resume always shows that you make a huge contribution wherever you go. That can be independent of job duration. You can show that you are loyal to a company by exceeding their expectations with your outstanding performance. Loyalty is about delivery. Show that on your resume, the same place you show job hopping.

A resume is not a laundry list of job and duties. It’s a document about a story. You resume needs to show the story of a person who contributes in large ways wherever you go.

Think about this. Someone wrote a great SuperBowl ad, then six months later went to Nike and launched a new shoe that’s a success, and a year later went to Google and rebranded some of their software to increase user base 50%. Most people would not care that this person was job hopping. Most people would want to hire this person, even if he only stayed a little bit.

Of course, most of you don’t have such enormous accomplishments, but you probably do have accomplishments. And you do have a story about how you chose to leave when you did. When I explained my own job hopping, I talked about how I went to companies, launched great, successful software products, and then moved on. I never felt the job hopping held me back, though I always had to explain it in interviews.

That’s the thing about job hopping. People want to hear an explanation that makes sense. They don’t want to hear you failed, or didn’t get along with people, or have no attention span. Not every job will be the pinnacle of success, but a good resume writer can make every job look like it was some sort of success, and that your level of success increased with each hop, because with each hop you got more responsibility.

I know that a lot of you hop because you don’t know what to do with yourself. But you’ll probably be able to find some consistent string running throughout all your jobs. Maybe it was customer service, maybe all your jobs were sports-related, you’ll have to figure out the story. But a good story weaves everything together into something linear, and, if you’re lucky, it’ll point you toward what you should do next.

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75 comments on “Job hopping: How much is too much?
  1. Mary says:

    I thought you were posting the occasional video blog so you could get a break from so much posting. You are a powerhouse!

    I was a job hopper for a few years because I worked in the non-profit world, and many of them are repositories for workers who can’t make it anywhere else. (Not all, of course!!) B I didn’t want to waste my time and career working for dysfunctional people and organizations (the stories I could tell of wasting donor dollars!) I went through 5 jobs in about 7 to 8 years. However, the 6th job was the charm–I’ve been at my current place for 10 years. One thing that helped is each of my jobs was in a similar area (arts and culture) and I built new skills in each job. I don’t believe changing jobs frequently ever cost me a job that I wanted. Or thought I wanted until I started working there ;-)

  2. Erik says:

    A way to reach middle ground in the job hopping spectrum – get transferred w/in your own company.

    The benefits of this being:
    1. Same company name on the resume
    2. New job for you (especially if it's a big company, you can move cities)
    3. You can find out a lot more in the interview process about a new position at the company you're currently working at than you can at a new company. So there's a better chance (I would suspect) of picking a job you like
    4. You keep the benefits of the network you've already built up for negotiating the bureaucracy of the current company while also getting to build a new network.

  3. laurence haughton says:

    “Someone wrote a great Super Bowl ad, then six months later went to Nike and launched a new shoe that's a success, and a year later went to Google and rebranded some of their software to increase user base 50%. Most people would not care that this person was job hopping. Most people would want to hire this person”

    Some people would wonder if this person takes too much credit for the work of so many others.

  4. Working Girl says:

    “Job-hopping” never hurt me, and I’ve had 59 jobs over the last 40 years (hey, I started working at a very early age, okay?). You’re right, employers just want to know why you left a job. Most of the time I was leaving to go earn more money elsewhere. And, yes, this is exactly what I said. In a nice way, of course.

  5. Chris Yeh says:

    Wow, 8 jobs in 10 years? That’s remarkable. I guess I must be old-fashioned for having only worked for three different organizations during that time.

    To me as a hiring manager, it’s a question of whether the job-hopping was sporadic or constant. If a person stayed at a couple of jobs for a reasonable period (even just 2-3 years), then I wouldn’t be too worried. If the longest a person stayed at a job was 6 months, I wouldn’t be arrogant enough to think that I could change that pattern.

    * * * * * *

    I agree, Chris. And changing every six months is really extreme. But I think that increasingly, people are able to add solid value to an organization in very short stints. Sort of like a freelancer, but on staff. Not sure on this, just thinking out loud….

    -Penelope

  6. hoppy says:

    This agonizes me now. I worked for Microsoft for six years, took time off to pursue side projects, accomplished what I’d taken time off for, went and got a job back on my career track again.

    The company went under in seven months, and this was a company that survived the first high tech bust. It shocked EVERYONE – customers, employees, clients. No one saw it coming, least of all me.

    One of the executives went to another company, and while he didn’t ‘bring’ me with him, he did everything he could to get me a job here. I love this guy and am glad to work for him, but the rest of the company is horrible. It’s the wrong culture, the wrong environment, the wrong everything.

    So now I feel like I have to stick it out for a year at least, or I’m going to look like a job hopper and no one will be interested in me. But this place is literally giving me ulcers and I have tried EVERY trick to be positive, contribute as much as possible, and have completely sold out in order to fit in. But I go home and am catatonic because it takes so much out of my soul.

    Do I risk it and try to get out? Or is it career suicide?

    * * * * *
    Hoppy, I agree with Mary (below). I say get out. If you get out in four or five months, eventually you might be able to leave the whole thing off  your resume. If you leave after a year, you’ll have to put it on your resume.

    I am assuming that part of what you’ve done when you say you’ve tried everything is that you’ve told your boss how bad things feel, and what you need to have change, and he has not been able to make that happen. So he will understand when you move.

    Good luck.

    –Penelope

  7. Mary says:

    Hoppy–why in the world wouldn’t you be looking for a job now? Don’t grab at the first life raft thrown at you, or you could land in another ring of hell. But, if you get a job within the next few months in a good place and it builds your skills, it sounds like you would stay at the new place for years. You sound very loyal. I can’t imagine looking for and landing a good job could be career suicide.

    Also, life is waaaay too short to give up your happiness and health for Hell Inc.

  8. Susan says:

    Mary, if you ever wanted to switch jobs again, it sounds like you’d be great as a career counselor! I’d take your advice. I am in Hoppy’s position, too, and actually started going to therapy to overcome those feelings of negativity and guilt resulting from displaced company loyalty. When you’re in a bad work environment with people you just don’t like, it makes it really hard to put on your most professional, cheerful face every day and give it you all. It’s not fair to the company or the employee, so a change is better for everyone (we hope…)

  9. Mary says:

    Susan–Thanks. Advice is easy to dispense when it is based on your own experience. I too had a job that I like to refer to as “the job that put me into therapy” with the type of boss that makes you question your own sanity and intelligence. The misery of the situation and the inability to quit becuase I had high debt, no savings, no health insurance made me feel like I was trapped. But, one way I got out was I took a skill building course (grant writing) at NYU Continuing Ed. It did get me the next job–Grant Writer at a relatively sane Museum where I stayed for about 3 years.

  10. JoJo says:

    Early in my career, I only job-hopped into better positions that paid more money, and I even stayed at one company for seven years. But later, I found myself in a series of really crappy, horribe jobs where I job-hopped just to get out of them. A couple of bad bosses – one who threw screaming tantrums every week, one who micromanaged me so badly I nearly had a nervous breakdown – and a couple of bait & switch jobs, which were advertised as “senior-level” but were so far beneath my skill level I ended up bored to death – added up to a lot of years spent being miserable, hating that I had to go to work every day.

    I finally gave up on finding a full-time job that would challenge me and offer me enough responsibility and went into contracting. I guess if I’m going to be a job-hopper I might as well be a professional one. Sometimes I end up in something boring, other times I end up working on a project that offers me some mental stimulation and that I enjoy. But even when I’m working on something mind-numbing and dull, at least I always know it’s only temporary, and I will soon be on to something else.

    Maybe someday I’ll find another full-time job, but it will be a place where I’ve already worked on a temporary, contract basis. I’ll know what I’m getting into and not encounter nasty surprises like I’ve had in the past. Then again, maybe not! I actually get to take real vacations when I’m between assignments, and most companies only want to give two weeks!

  11. David says:

    Please be wary of some of this advice. I hire people and I can tell you for a fact job hopping is mostly seen as a negative. Why in the world would I invest 3-6 months of training, average for what my employees do, in a person who has never lasted more than a year in job?

    Yes gaps do occur, yes everyone makes a bad career choice now and then but consistant job hopping tells me you are either unable to adapt to different work environments, flakey and unstable or you have a track record of bad decisions (picking the wrong company/career).

    Take this advice with a grain of salt.

    • Marista Grey says:

      I understand what you said about investing in someone for three months by training that individual, but what if no training has been done and this individua;l is frustrated? I think job-hopping is a positive thing because in a way, it maintains your passion. These changes would enable your learning curve to behigh and freshly challenged. It also helps to build your professional network and it is coupled with high performance.

    • Starr Lara says:

      Hello,

      Be careful what you think about job hoppers. I held only two jobs for the 1st 17 years of my career. I stayed at the 1st job longer than anyone in that office. They had a revolving door of supervisors and employees as they were very strict and bullish to their employees. I outlasted them all. Even then, I didn’t quit. I was laid off when a computer upgrade eliminated all I did, and it was a small company.

      The next job, that I held for 7 years, I didn’t quit either. It went bankrupt after 45 years in business.

      After that, since 1998, I’ve had the unfortunate luck of lasting only two years at the most at a position. Three positions lasted two years, the others a year. One of those went bankrupt. The others eliminated my position, as they were small struggling companies.

      I was taught before that to look at people like you do, that they are not good employees if they don’t stay at a job for a long time. Now I’m having to eat my words. I am now viewed the same way as I used to view applicants when they didn’t stay at a position very long.

      To sum it all up, I’ve not quit a job in over 20 years. Through no fault of my own, I end up being laid off. Please look more kindly on resumes. There can be some very legitimate reasons why a person is not at a job that long. It’s pretty hard to stay when the companies go bankrupt and the doors are closed.

      There but by the grace of God go thee.
      Starr

  12. Aaron Erickson says:

    David, if it takes 3-6 months to train your hires into productivity, with all due respect, you are doing it wrong.

    I work in an industry where you jump in and contribute on day 1, and by day 5, you are a go-to person. Most of my consulting engagements are 6 months-ish (some more, many less). And I am not remarkable.

    Job-hopping for many people is nothing more than consulting and getting paid via w2. The only bit of sanity I would question is why someone job-hopping just doesn’t go ahead and call what they do contracting or consulting, admit to the time term ahead of time, charge a higher rate.

    Unfortunatley, people will go w2 for health insurance, 401k, and such, even if 6 months. I would not hold it against them.

    As for reality, I have been places 4 years, and I have been other places 1 year (overall 7 places in 12 years) – and never has job hopping come up in the conversation.

  13. Susan says:

    I’ve job hopped for most of my career (about 20 years). The longest I’ve stayed in one place is about 6 years, because it was the most challenging position I’d had to date, and where I learned some great skills. The shortest was less than a year, because of a family situation (death).I was recently asked why I ‘job-hopped’ so much recently (in the past 5-6 years). One of the reasons I’ve job-hopped was because others came to me with better jobs at better rates of pay.
    But how do I explain this to a HR person? Most I’ve encountered are turned off by this, but I can demonstrate advanced skill levels, management experience and successful contrubutions to each company (and i’m looking again). Any thoughts on this are helpful!

    * * * * * *

    Instead of focusing on the pay increses, focus on the opporunities presented. For example, “I finished project x and accomplished [quantified acheivement that helped company's bottom line]. Then I got an opporutnity to [learn/contribute/expand etc.] at company x, so I took it.”

    This explanation shows that you made a difference to the company before you left, and you left to persue personal growth. This sort of explanation has always worked for me. The key is being good at quantifying you achievements whereever you have been.

    –Penelope

  14. Aaron Erickson says:

    Here’s a radical answer – don’t work at places that care whether you have “job hopped” if they dont like your reasons. If you are asked, detail how you have added value in each and every job you have had. Emphasize how quickly you hit the ground running.

    Generally, if you are dealing with HR having a real voice as to whether you are going to be hired, you are dealing in the wrong place. If you have had that many jobs in 20 years, surely you have colleagues in your network that could find value for your services. In my experience, positions you get through networking do not have to go through the same kind of HR filters that getting hired as an outsider does.

  15. Stephen Smith says:

    For the last ten years, I’ve been employed by several startups who only lasted about a year or two. Their exist strategies were to sell the company as soon as they developed a large enough receivables base, or, in the case of a couple online recruiters, until they created a database of several hundred thousand names.

    Most of the time, I was hired because I had contributed to the top-line revenue of my previous employers in a significant way. The biggest problem is that now I don’t want to do that anymore. I don’t want to be involved with a company that has no interest in the long-term, or that is unwilling to invest in their employees. It has meant that I’ve had 12 jobs in ten years, with about 50 jobs over my thirty year career and that has made my resume nearly impossible to manage properly.

    I would rather go back to a purchasing or inventory control career, which was my chosen field until I was wooed by the money and excitement of the Silicon Valley dot com expansion(which became the “dot bomb” fiasco). Since I’m perceived as someone who won’t stick around, there has been little interest from potential employers who want someone with a “stick-to-it” career path and not someone with as many sales positions as I’ve had.

    Even though my sales career reflects the inventory and warehouse management path from my previous life — warehouse software, barcode systems and business intelligence, network discovery and design — I can’t seem to create enough interest in my potential benefit to a prospective employer.

    Any advice about how to create a resume that doesn’t just look like a sequence of sales jobs that aren’t applicable to returning to a previous career track? I’m in my early 50′s, now, and I think that I’m hitting the “gray ceiling.”

    * * * * * *
    Hi Stephen. Sorry to hear you’re having trouble. Two ideas:

    1. You can leave stuff out and then you look more stable. No one ever said a resume is an exact list of everyting you’ve done in life. It would be too long. So leaving stuff out seems like fair game to me. Just don’t leave big gaps.. If you can leave out short stints without creating big gaps then you end up looking more stable.

    2. Get a job through networking instead of through sending cold resumes, and then you’re less likely to have trouble becasue of your age.

    Any other suggestions for Stephen?

     –Penelope

  16. Senior Hopster says:

    I’m in a similar situation to some of those who have commented here – though perhaps a bit earlier on in my career.

    I’m 28 and since college (5 years ago), I’ve had 5 different jobs. They’ve all been sales jobs and I’ve always left on good terms, but I’m finding now that a lot of companies/recruiters won’t even CONSIDER me because of my spotty work history.

    The trend with me seems to be related to boredom. I can NOT, NOT, NOT stand to be in a job where I am not stimulated and excited to be working. The instant I feel like things are getting routine, I jump ship and scan the horizon for something that might keep me interested.

    Is this a foul way to approach one’s career? Also – is ‘boredom’ reason enough to leave a job?

    * * * * * *

    I think boredom is a fine reason to leave a job. But I think a lot of boredom comes from ourselves, and not our job. For example, if a job is boring, did you get all your work done extra fast and then look around for an interesting project to pick up? Or, if you job is boring did you think about if your whole life is boring and maybe your job wouldn’t seem so boring if you could do more things you’re passionate about in your life?

    So if you have gone down those routes already, and the job still really bugs you, then leaving seems fine. But it’s important to always stay somewhere long enough to make positive impact before you leave. This doesn’t require a lot of time – just a lot of talent.

    –Penelope

    • Martin says:

      Penelope’s comment is gold. Boredom is complex, especially when you’re the one in the hole. It becomes difficult seeing what causes boredom, and we are usually quick to blame it on something external. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to solve this, apart from detached common sense. Best of luck!

  17. Vanessa says:

    I graduated in 2004 and I’ve been job hopping ever since. The longest I’ve stayed at a company was 2 years as a legal secretary. It’s great in that you learn more about your personality and about what you like and dislike in a job. The downside is that, sometimes you feel like you’ll never find something you’ll like and can stick with long term. Also, it’s hard to get an interview for a job you really want b/c employers see that you don’t have previous experience or you’re job-hopping. It’s unfair b/c job hopping doesn’t mean you’re not a hardworker or not serious enough. If HR would only understand this, I’m sure they could recruit some really great candidates that don’t have the “typical” resume.

    I’m currently in a different field at a great company, but it’s been two weeks and I’m already looking for something new. Maybe I’m bored. Maybe it’s the tasks. Maybe it’s the people. I don’t know.

    My friends keep telling me I need to make up my mind and stick with one job. That really PISSES me off because unlike them, I don’t know what I want to do. Kudos to them for knowing early on that they want to be in finance, medicine, education, etc., but that’s not the case with me. This is something you will encounter w/ people around you. Disapproval. You just have to be true to yourself and not let them get to you because, afterall, it’s your life and why stay in a job/field you don’t like?

    I’m sure I’ll find something I like soon, but I’m still young and it’s okay to try different things.

  18. Vanessa says:

    By the way… as long as you’re making enough dough to support yourself and NOT relying on Mommy and Daddy then you’re all good. Job hop. Explore. =)

  19. Isabella says:

    I am a chronic job hopper. I haven’t had a real job in nearly a year. I have been working as a temp in that time, for companies I have grown to despise because the people do not give me enough work to keep me busy, or they give me the most menial tasks. As such, and at nearly 40, I cannot be taken seriously by any company.

    What can I do to stop this? I need to get a reality check. Thanks for letting me vent.

    * * * * *

    Isabella, I’m sorry to hear things have been so hard for you. When you are not getting interviews for jobs you want, it’s a pretty safe assumption that your resume does not convey you in a way that is working. So you might want to hire a career coach to help you get your resume into shape. Sometimes when you do that things fall into place right away, and sometimes you uncover other problems you need to solve. Both are productive outcomes, I think.

    Penelope

  20. Mike Thomas says:

    Great post, Penelope!

    I recently (7/8/07) wrote a post on job hopping, as well. As a supplement that day, I also did a short write up on your piece and pointed my readers over.

    You do great work, Penelope! I LOVE your insight and information.

    - Mike

  21. Barbara Saunders says:

    In response to the idea that people who are really contractors chose W-2 work to get the bennies: Often something else is at play. I am a consultant-type by nature. I love to diagnose, troubleshoot, and solve problems. More than once, I’ve found myself in a job that shouldn’t have been a job at all. In one case, I was “assisting” a hiring manager hire for a group that consisted of only 7 people. In another, I was an administrative support person to one person with deficient computer skills and another with deficient time management skills — both of them much too low-level themselves to warrant having assistants.

    The problem solver in me can’t be suppressed. In the former case, I gradually redesigned the hiring process and coached several lead workers to build their own team as the company grew. In the latter case, I quit and, in my exit interview, recommended training for colleague number one and coaching for colleague number two. (I offered to do either or both of those things, but it didn’t go over well!)

    It’s a hard lesson, but I’ve realized I’m best off just positioning myself as a “problem-solver”, rather than selling my other skills in temp or perm situations and then drifting towards the most interesting or most irritating problems.

  22. bogar says:

    Hi,

    There are hundreds of reason behind a candidate to sit in front of you. Even the candidate may not know the true reason/feeling for why he is attending interviews and try to quit his current employer. There are situations sky scrapping salary hike is demanded in unequal comparison with their ex-colleagues. A fantastic article at Another reason for Job hopping.

    If you grasp the valid reason for the candidate’s change(change is unnecessary in most of the cases), you can negotiate the salary well. I often ask 100% hike if I do not like the inverviwing company after technical rounds. Everything depends on whether it is a buyer’s or seller’s market.

  23. Mo alsayyed says:

    I am 30 yrs old and in my 7 years career, I had 3 jobs. The fact of thr matter it, in my last 2 positions , I was able to get 100% hike in salary. Not to mention, getting into two fortune 100 companies. I m lucky and blessd , I know but the problem is , I started looking around for a new job! Again, better pay and more challenges in work are my motivation Is this healthy? How can I justify leaving big employers as my current is one of the top 20 big companiesn in the world? help appreciated n handling the question of why do you wanna leave!

  24. Barbara Saunders says:

    Staying in a job too long can also be a red flag. Just as my company isn’t likely to change a person who’s never stayed more than 6 mos. in a job, it isn’t likely to trigger initiative in a person who has stagnated in the exact same role for 15 years!

  25. Tom Elsa says:

    I have had 28 jobs in about 15 years! I even wrote a book about it!

    http://www.mrinstability.blogspot.com

  26. KC says:

    I think I am in a position with a lot of the posters here too… I graduated college, took a job and was there for 3 years all while being promoted into management. Then the word a lot of people fear happened, re-org… lots of people lost their staff and were centralized somewhere else. So,I moved on to a job in the same company but it was a nightmare, not challenging, the people were mean when I would ask questions etc. Now, I have switched companies after 3.5 years with the same company and I miss the work that I did originally, I am confident that they would take me back if I approached them, but my wife sort of pulled some strings to get me in my current job; would I be letting her down if I were to make a move? I am 4 months into said new job…

  27. amit says:

    This article is really good and really helped me to understand job hoppers. I appreciate the way job hopping is justified.

  28. Daniel says:

    Folks. I can only accept this advise on a partial level. First and foremost, I would never recommend someone remain at a job they are miserable with, but at some point, I cannot support someone who consistently jumps from job to job in a short time span. Yes, sometimes you accept a position and within a short time; you realize that it’s not what you expected it to be. However, consistently being unhappy over and over again at a new job every six months indicates you either can’t adapt to a new environment and don’t intend on accepting a new challenge. I’ve been at my current position for three years now and recently interviewed for another position for a different company. I got a lot of negative vibe from my interviewer when she said, “So, it looks like you have a lot of good going on for you; why would want to leave?” This was also after I explained why since 2001 I’ve worked for three other companies…Yes, I understand everyone’s experiences are unique, but after several interviews, I get the feeling the most of these potential employers get that “job hopper” flag when they look at my resume. Some companies don’t care if they hire job-hoppers, but that could also explain why they have high turnover. Most good companies take pride in who they are hiring, so they’re not going to waste their energy and money hiring short-timers who are going to sit around for a paycheck and leave after a few months.

  29. Joe says:

    Say Penelope:

    You advise people to make frequent career changes…Maybe you should do us a favor and change your career from writing articles that give good people horrendous advise.

    • Martin says:

      Thats not what she’s advising at all. If you are bored and depressed at work, yes, you should change your job and look into what the problem is;

      Joe, maybe you should make a career change yourself, but keep away from ‘reading and interpretation’. That would probably not be your forte :)

  30. Richmond says:

    Job hopping is an issue dependent on both parties (employee and employer). Perhaps, the employer side is less emphasized that we tend to look at job hopping of employees as negative.I think that we should also look at retention strategies of employers. Employees who are not satisfied with their job sometimes feel that companies don’t have sound retention plans.

    For recruiters, don’t blame applicants for their mistakes on choosing companies with poor retention strategies. The only way of knowing the true working conditions is to be part of the company first. It is not something that applicants could easily predict while applying. Once they are there, commitment and loyalty of employees could only be guaranteed by those employers who are willing to provide impressive retention policies.

    In some cases, the nature of a job also calls for one to be a job hopper especially those engaged in consulting where a certain duration is observed such as 3 months. Similarly, those who have a project-based working condition normally and regularly commit job-hoppping.

    Employers who are afraid of getting job hoppers may also mean that they are not certain on the retention strategies that they implement, and that is, if there is any.

    The bottom-line job-hopping should be taken as a condition dependent on retention strategies, job satisfaction, career advancement, and remuneration.

    • Brian says:

      Well stated. I’ve seen several companies have terrible turnover because of the leadership. They were not leaders. They were way in over their heads and hired good people who they then felt insecure around. Good people have enough self respect and confidence not to allow those way in over their heads hold them back. When management ( and I’m in mgmt) we can look ourselves in the face, then things may change. Good people don’t leave jobs, they leave people.
      Only experienced and secure people have that awareness and understanding. Leaders help their company and people be successful and in turn have less turn over and a better bottom line. There are many good people who are simplistically labeled as ” job hoppers”. A previous post hit it right on the head, if someone is that simplistic and does not take the time to ascertain the rational for changes, it’s a blessing to you, as they will usually be at the same level of simplistic think in other areas.

      • Scott says:

        “Good people don`t leave jobs, they leave people”. I`m going to etch that quote in stainless steel and frame it over my desk! Well put. After over 17 years in Information Systems dev/programming/administration, the people I`ve worked with have bigger people/company culture issues than technical/academic. My resume is long due to not knowing the company culture or how my personality fit in there. long-term employees need to know more about this than contractors. In an interview I`ll ask more questions about that; we should be interviewing each other, not just company interviewing potential emloyee.

  31. Ryan says:

    I have had three jobs since college which was in Dec of 04. I was in the pharmaceutical industry and loved it for about a year. My boss was horrible and my numbers were great. She was trying to push me out so another manager could become a rep and take my territory which would leave me without a job. I chose to resign and to this day I am told I have to many jobs within 5 years and for some reason I can’t get back into the industry. I had to take another job that is completely out of my league and out of my passion. How will I get past this?

  32. Ron says:

    I’ve just started my 3rd job since college (4 years ago). I stayed at my first job for 3.5 years and left because I was tired of working R&D and wanted to work on something real. However, I made the wrong choice and ended up in a startup with an unprofessional work environment and the projects were misrepresented to me at the interview. I hopped out of there after 6 months and went back to my old company, but in a location clear across the country. How will this job hop hurt me? How will my choice of returning to my old company hurt me? Will I be okay after 1.5 – 2 years?

  33. Avinesh says:

    I think that job hopping can be dangerous especially if you are doing it for a long. When you are young that is between 20 to 30 then it maybe fine. Once you reach a certain age like 30 and above, then you should be try and find a company that you are comfortable in and would like to stay til you retire. You will need to think about your pension as every time you move your money does not grow.
    Also when you job hop please ensure that you leave the company on a good note as references are very important.

  34. Joe says:

    There’s a fine between frequent career advancement and job-hopping. In this fast-paced work environment, you can almost become a “veteran” just two years into your job because of the high turnover. There are many occassions where changing organizations after two or three years may be necessary in order to obtain the career advancement you desire. On the same token, I don’t know of that many younger people in this day in age that have not experienced some type of layoff that will require them to seek a new career elsewhere.
    I’ve always perceived “job-hopping” as simply ditching your job every few months simply because you don’t like it, you hate your manager, you don’t like the hours, or for whatever personal reason that cannot cater to your personal needs at that moment in time. I talked to an older gentleman in his 80′s recently who even acknowledged that us “kids” need to keep our eyes open for better opportunities when they arise. He was with Sears for 40 years, but he retired years ago. Those of us in our 30s and up have parents/grandparents that came from a completely different generation where the workforce was comprised of people who simply accepted the notion that the company you went to work for once you graduated from college was the company you would stay with until the day you retired. Today’s businesses operate much differently as well and even the ones that have been around for decades don’t operate the way the did fifty years ago. It’s not impossible to stay with one company a long time today, but you could be missing out on big opportunities elsewhere.

  35. Susan says:

    I posted to this in 2007, and have since stopped ‘job hopping’. In the position I’m in now, I brought skills and life experiences to my position that were exactly what my employer was looking for. I’m now in a career field that is wonderful, challenging, amazing, fulfilling, and always changing!
    My advice to all the other job hoppers out there…you will one day find that ‘niche’ job that keeps you in the money and will keep you challenged and fulfilled. I know that I was surprised when i did!!!

  36. Starr Lara says:

    Hello Everyone,

    Regarding job hopping, I held two jobs only for the first 17 years of my career, one for 7 years, and one for 10 years. The first one, the company went bankrupt, and the second company had a computer upgrade that eliminated everything I was doing.

    I’ve lived on the same street for the last 25 years, and I’ve been married for 29 years, so I am a loyal person and a stable person.

    It just seems that since 1998, I have a knack for finding companies that are going through bankrupty, growing pains, or financial instability of some sort. I end up being laid off. I had three jobs that I was at for 2 years, and then the rest were a year or one was for eight months.

    What can I do to attract a manager to call me? I had one recruiter tell me that I looked like a job hopper on my resume. How do I overcome this?

    Thanks,
    Starr

    • Brian says:

      Your point about being marriend 29 years underscores committment and that should be tactfully shared when interacting with a potential employer. It emphasizes that comittment is a two way street and in the right relationship( as that is what employment is) you have no problem staying around. People of your comittment have no reason to be sorry for changing positions. Both of your moves were beyond your control.

  37. JobHopper says:

    I jobhopped a few times in the last few years, but now can’t find any job in my field of marketing! What should I do?

  38. William says:

    I’ve been seen as a chronic job hopper. My first position, while attending college full-time, I worked 4 years and was promoted from an admin asst to a program manager, and had a great manager who knew what managing means (being a leader as well as a mentor). My agency was consolidated into another agency, and I was thrown into the lovely workforce. I spent 8 months at a company as a glorified admin with a horrible manager, so I left to another company that was relocating to another state. I was there 8 months when my manager I was hired under decided not to make the move, and was put under a manager who had no clue what our department did (I took over the duties of my manager without the pay or title change). I was headhunted by another company that would pay me more than 20% more than I made, so after pleading my case for a promotion (turned down due to budget concerns), I left to the new company. I stayed there 13 months with the worst manager ever (the micro-manager who takes credit for your ideas and never seems to have anything on his plate), so I left and am now at my current position for 16 months. 4 years, 8 months, 8 months, 13 months, and 16 months, moving from an Administrative Asst to now a Sr. Business Analyst and increasing my pay by 32% in the past 3 years. Sad thing is, if you stayed at the same company you may get the 3% raise every year. My current position is not challenging, and everyone in my company has been here 15 years so there isn’t much growth (even though I was told there was great growth in the company), so I am wanting to look for another job. However, I am seen as a job-hopper no matter how I put my resume (one recruiter after badgering me, I finally told her I was spoiled by having a mentor rather than a manager, and have had just horrible managers since. I didn’t get the position but I finally was able to tell the truth). How do some people get into management is what I want to know?

    • Starr says:

      I was told that bullies often get promoted, because the companies don’t know what else to do with them, and because they can’t be bullied themselves or pushed around. It sucks, but it seems to be the way of the world. Promote the bullies and forget about the hardworking, ethical, capable, and smart employees. Just bully over the top of them.

      • Kevin says:

        Hello Starr
        I understand your frustrations. I was bullied at Amtrak for Four years. The first year I loved what I did. Then I hated my job. The bullies were getting promoted. The slackers were getting promoted and there were “preferred” treatment to the other employees if you know what I mean. I have always loved the railroad since I was a kid. Now I feel differently now. I resigned from Amtrak ever since. Also the Union that supposed to represent us was just worthless. They gambled with our jobs. And I disagreed with their actions. To top it off they took money out of my paycheck for insurance I didn’t even sign up for and they owe me at least $300.00. That is really frustrating.  If you interested in starting up a support group drop me an e-mail at trains006@hotmail.com.    

  39. Ajeanr says:

    Since graduating college 3.5 years ago I’ve held four positions, but all within the same department. All but one of the changes have been management’s decision. I am somewhat happy in my current position, which is closing in on a management position.

    However, things have changed. Although I’m at the top of level, there are others who have been there longer. Department politics mean I will not be likely to receive a promotion in the next five years unless I move, which I can’t do at the moment. Although there are some challengs for me now, most days represent relatively little creative thinking.

    I was recently offered a different position – a lateral move in a completely different area. I am sure it will offer me some good opportunities to learn and grow, but I’m unsure if leaving my current position now will put me further back.

    Any thoughts on a move like this? Better to take the new role and learn what I can, or hold on to my current one for a little longer? I’m worried about staying too long in my current role, but also worried about moving out too soon. Any thoughts or advice?

  40. WMS says:

    Job hunting is good, maybe for the person since it gives him the chance to enhance his skills in different jobs. It also help him search for the job he really like and develops futher the knowledge of such a job. However, job hopping if visibly recognize in your resume does not give an excellent empression on you as a potential applicant. If so, you must present your resume that in every job you have been to, you have contributed much to the company and not just job hunting or hopping.

    • Starr says:

      I created the first websites for two of the companies I worked for. They even gave me letters of reference, and mentioned this. They were just small companies that couldn’t afford to keep me when the economy went bad after 9/11. This can’t be seen on a resume!

  41. Joe Fedcamop says:

    Great concise article. Thank you. If it doesn’t come off to much like a plug, I just published a book titled Permanent Temporary (www.permanenttemporary.com) discussing many of these same issues, but in a much less serious tone. It’s a hilarious adventure but contains tons of insights on this topic. It’s less of an advocate of job hopping and more a look at freelancing and temp agency work and how it can work for you in the short run AND the long run.

    I appreciate your comment about employers simply wanting an answer that makes sense when encountering a job hopper resume. I was asked to leave a job less than 1% of the time, and asked to stay over 80% of the time. A confident answer that make sense can be a BOON to your interview skills, not always a hindrance.

    Thanks for a great post! :)

    Joe Fedcamp

  42. Starr says:

    Thanks Joe, humor and laughter is a great medicine, especially when it comes to the job hunt, so I will be buying your book.
    :-)
    Starr

  43. Steven young says:

    cool

  44. Raghavan says:

    Excellent article. I have been changing jobs quiet frequently and was really concerned how will I be able to market myself going forward. After reading through the article I feel pretty confident and also feel that I am on the right track. As mentioned my job hopping has infact helped me in knowing a good deal about new lines of business and business models. It has also enhanced my network. I had a reflection on my past and found that the reason I have been changing was as I was given challenges and I overcame those. Once things settled I found that I had to move on to seek more challenges

  45. Karen M says:

    I recently quit a job I had for 8 months. It was essentially slave labor hours (consulting) and we were often taken for granted and not treated so well. As if that wasn’t reason enough to leave…I also realized that I would be pigeon holed into this niche if I didn’t leave and get back to what I had been doing prior to this position. By the way, what I was doing previously was much more marketable.

    Bottom line, I would rather switch to a more marketable job vs. having to spend the rest of my life in this company and be enslaved to it forever because the type of work was so specialized.

    I truly feel that there’s a stigma attached to quitting a job w/o staying in it for at least 3 years. This is not just because of financial reasons either (I totally get that reason). If an average employee kept more of an open mind, when financially possible, maybe more people would switch jobs when faced with miserable working environments. Maybe companies would get a clue, and the power could shift a bit in favor of working people. It would be one less thing companies could hold against job candidates…and they would be forced to focus on the real aspects of the job. What a concept! :-)

    By the way, I used to be a job hopper and about 5 years ago, I went on a job interview and the director gave me a major attitude because I was a job hopper and told me that he didn’t believe I went to a real school because HE HADN’T HEARD OF IT. Folks, that college was actually a TOP 20 SCHOOL!!!

  46. Karen M says:

    I just want to say one more thing – I think it is so cool that there are so many jobhoppers out there. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating it, but I think there is a time (or 2) in probably everyone’s life where a job needs to be cut short. In those cases, I think people need to just follow their gut and do what they think is right.

    That being said, I don’t think most people understand the concept of job hopping, even selectively job hopping (i.e., when it seems absolutely warranted).

    I want to say THANK YOU to all of you for posting as well as a special thanks to Penelope. Someone on this post had mentioned that most people don’t understand them and their job hopping…well I felt the same way. So I THANK YOU ALL because I feel like I have at least a group of people who have shared the same experience that I have and so I’m not alone!

    Please keep posting. I can’t thank all of you enough! It was very cathartic to read the posts on here!!! Happy Posting!!! I wonder if we should create an email group (almost like a support group) :-)

    • Kevin B. says:

      Hello Karen,
      You have raised some great points about this. I have thought I always the only one. The way I see it. And the way I feel about it. Is this,if you are on a job and you are honest about your work and passionate about doing a great job and people who aren’t. I don’t mean sucking up to the management. In fact setting yourself apart from them and being in an appropriate situation. If you are not noticed and respected its time to move on. Its like being in a relationship. Why waste your time. Move on and keep on keeping on.
      I bet you agree with that one. Drop me an e-mail at trains006@hotmail.com. I would be interested in creating a support group.
       

  47. bionicpax says:

    Ive been in 3 jobs for 4 years. I’ve stayed one year each in my first 2 jobs, and right now I’m almost 2 years with my present company. Thing is, within those 2 years, I’ve been interviewed with a lot of companies (total of 7 and counting). 4 out of those 7 gave me a job offer, which I eventually turned down primarily because I care so much about my tenure. The reason I’ve been exploring is because the company has not yet provided salary increase for 2 years (for all employees). Worst thing is that I even found out some unfair practices. I’m already in a senior post, but I was really shocked after I’ve found that my salary is almost the same as the juniors! My other senior colleagues (same level, grade and responsibility) are getting much which I do deserve.

    My previous job offers gave me a promotion with a salary increase of more than 30% increase from what I’m getting. But I turned down all of them because I dont want to be labeled as a job hopper.

    Am I doing the right thing??? Or was it a wrong move that I may have lost a big opportunity (considering that getting a job nowadays is very difficult)??

    PLEASE HELP….

  48. Dave-o says:

    Interesting discussions. But what nobody has mentioned that, as an employee, unless you are under contract (with the union), you are an enployee-at-will. Employee-at-will can and does cut both ways. You can quit your job anytime w/o reason just as much as an employer can fire you anytime w/o reason.

    As far as job hopping, look. If an employer offered you a more desireable job than your current job, you’d be foolish not to take it – especially if you were offered more money, better benefits and better working conditions. This isn’t the granny n pappi/mom n pop economy like it was 50 years ago. Loyalty is a thing of the past (especially among employers) – and you can trace that back to the union-busting days of Ronald Reagan, maybe even further back to Nixon (and the collapse of the steel industry).

    • Dave-o says:

      I would also like to add that since I got laid-off from my graphic design job (printing company went bankrupt) back in 2003, I’ve had nothing but bad luck and was forced to settle for dead-end jobs that paid shit for wages. As much as I wanted to leave my hometown for better opportunities elsewhere, I couldn’t because I was financially strapped. FML.

  49. Amy says:

    It’s like a huge weight off my shoulders to hear that I’m not alone in job-hopping and that is not the end of the world. I’m 23 and I’m trying hard to find a career for myself. I have been studying at university (did not finish though) and have had numerous jobs in the last few years. I have left positions for various reasons – moved too far away, no longer studying, was only project-base… Right now I’m thinking of leaving my current job because it’s boring, there is no satisfaction and it’s just not what I want to do for the rest of my life. Coupled with personal issues and I’m just downright depressed with life at the moment. A recruitment agent I saw recently told me that this would be my last chance to find a good job because of my history. To be fair though, all my past jobs have had a consistant theme, admin assistant or sales assistant. I wish I could find my dream job where I’m motivated, stimulated and paid decently.

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  1. Leftsider says:

    Job hopping: How much is too much?

    Job hopping: How much is too much? ï½» Brazen Careerist Between the ages of 20 and 30, most people have more than 8 jobs. This is a positive thing for a number of reasons. First of all, Daniel Gilbert, psychologist…

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