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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  1. Amy
    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.

  2. RK
    RK says:

    Great post and great forum. I was in my first job for 9 years – I stayed there that long because I didn’t notice it. I was getting challenged all the time (projects / promotions / learning opportunities) and the company was changing every 2-3 years (which company doesn’t these days?) I quit after 9 years as I was worried I would be branded “inflexible” for having stayed at one place that long; also I wanted to challenge myself to see if I can survive outside my familiar settings.

    I quit my second job after 2.5 years as that company was doing mass layoffs and I wanted to run before the train hit me. The company was big/global but had an excessive (almost nauseating) focus on headcount, which gave me sleepless nights as I have a young family and a mortgage to look after.

    I am in my third job for over a year now and it turns out this place is a little bit more crappy than I expected. Also the “veterans” (10+ years) here have almost zero marketable skills which obviously explains why they are all still hanging around. This company is very well known global brand and pays well but hardly cares for its employees and their career aspirations. I had five managers in the year I have been here and dirty politics are the order of the day. In short, this is a place you wouldn’t want to hang around until you retire. I am not sure if I should jump this early hence the Google search and landing in this forum.

    Certainly reading through the posts has been helpful. My two cents worth:

    1. Early on in life you should hop more (at least once every two years) so you figure out what’s good for you and you pick up the right foundation skills. Also you are not constrained by location / family /mortgage commitments. As a few posters commented, a good way to job-hop without actually changing the company is to be in a consultancy like PWC / IBM etc.

    2. I don’t think a “dream job” is an objective reality. Barring the exceptions of people who are in professions that are incompatible with their talents, most of us can make our jobs as boring or as challenging as we want them to be. Most organisations have crap in them and it is only a matter of degree. We need to be tactful enough to minimise the impact of the crap on us by staying focused on a career plan.

    3. Your loyalty should be to yourself and your growth rather than to a company. The GFC has shown that companies, in spite of their flowery language on their career websites, won’t sacrifice profits for the sake of keeping a few loyal employees on rolls a bit longer until things get better. So you should continuously invest in yourself and keep yourself marketable. And if the company you are working for joins the party it is a win-win situation else you should move on.

    Best wishes for your journey.
    RK

  3. Shantanu
    Shantanu says:

    I am so relieved to find that there are many job hoppers in this world..phew..however..i changed jobs because i really had to and unfortunately i have joined companies..from Fortune 500 to startups..i still do not have any satisfaction. right now i am working for a start up and conditions are horrible. They treat employees like crap already i do not know what they will do after they become established. I had an altercation with my MD and i Resigned. I have been in this organization just for 5 months now. Is this really going to affect my career. I am not able to find jobs now. Last interview i attended told me straight faced that he is not ready to take risk with a job hopper. Please help. I am really worried.

  4. joe
    joe says:

    Yesterday I went for interview at a very prospective employer, and were told they will do a background check on your financial, job history and all thing disclose in an application form are nothing but the truth. Of course the job history part worries me. Then I started to count how many jobs I holds since i am 18. It turn out…WOW – 15 companies, the longest period is 6 year, the rest 1mth to 2.5yrs. then i founf this forum. I consider myself at least a dedicated and honest employee. There just all kind of reason for my departure of each job. ..when in younger days – the job is just not challenging enough, in my late twenties, family problems, financial crisis and I just cannot take craps from crappy superior and bosses (still can’t) in my thirties I finally found the job I am really into it, nice bosses too, but when they have new management staff, seems like they dislike me first.. It turns crappy. Relocation and distance issue. Now that I older and minor health issues, not all job fits me, and the employer nowadays they drains your blood and your soul…so tired… I am glad that I don’t take craps and bullshit throughout my 20years working life and I am just glad I never out of job… hopefully will not and I also did not get anywhere far. Bottom line is I am a loser in these superficial societies. don’t get me wrong, didn’t blame anyone or myself.. this is just me…

  5. Curious
    Curious says:

    Ok, so I have worked in the one orgnisation for the past 6 years, and am in my 4th position currently my orginal position I was in for 5 years, my last one 6 months and only started this one in November, prior to this I woked 3 other pernamet positions witin the same industry with one of these being seasonal work, so was only there for 1 season, prior to this i was in part time work while studying. I am looking at applying for a Secondment position, and was thinking about how it would look and if it would look bad or not, however the organisation I work in is huge and is always opening up opportunities to upskill.
    This article has made it easier to make a decision, as I will be remaining in the current organisation and district :)

  6. diamante
    diamante says:

    please message me at vintagebaby@live.com
    i would like to know job hopping for summer jobs may reduce my future prospects of finding a proper job in future?
    i worked at a supermarket chain for 2 weeks, and after that i left as i was not needed anymore. i worked at a game exhibition for two days, due to the agreed working period. i work at a open dining concept area as a waitress for more than a month now, and i intend to quit, due to some personal issues which may include sexual aggravation.

  7. Sascha
    Sascha says:

    Really interesting to read all these comments relating to job-hopping.

    I worked in the Sports Industry for 7.1 years – spending 1.2 years in first company, 2.5 years in second company where I then got headhunted into third company. I was intending to stay there for at least 5 years but got made redundant after 3.3 years due to the credit crunch affecting the Sports industry and brands dramatically decreasing their advertising and Sponsorship spends.

    I was really, really disappointed as Sports Marketing is everything I had dreamed of doing and an area that gave/would give me a real buzz!

    Since then I have worked in Advertising and Consultancy – working 2 years in one place and 1 year in the last two places, picking up new skills along the way.

    I acknowledge that I have outside experiences that I can bring back into the Sports Industry that others may not have – however looking at those who go hired recently for Director positions on Linkedin, they have remained in the Sports Industry and not ventured outside. So recruiters are looking for consistency.

    I am absolutely certain that I could nail the interview but given how selective recruiters are I need to come up with a game plan!

    I realise just post 30 I really don’t want to do anything outside of Sports and want to get back in and then stay in!

    Definitely, need to do something, think outside the box to differentiate myself and bring me back into mainstream Sports Marketing.

    Any suggestions?
    Thanks for considering my case.

    Since then

    Like all the comments related to job hopping.
    I am on my 6 company in 10 years.

    I worked in Sports for 7 years until the credit crunch really hit the Sports Industry hard. Since then got pushed out and had to move sideways – 2 years somewhere

  8. Sascha
    Sascha says:

    Really interesting to read all these comments relating to job-hopping.

    I worked in the Sports Industry for 7.1 years – spending 1.2 years in first company, 2.5 years in second company where I then got headhunted into third company. I was intending to stay there for at least 5 years but got made redundant after 3.3 years due to the credit crunch affecting the Sports industry and brands dramatically decreasing their advertising and Sponsorship spends.

    I was really, really disappointed as Sports Marketing is everything I had dreamed of doing and an area that gave/would give me a real buzz!

    Since then I have worked in Advertising and Consultancy – working 2 years in one place and 1 year in the last two places, picking up new skills along the way.

    I acknowledge that I have outside experiences that I can bring back into the Sports Industry that others may not have – however looking at those who got hired recently for Director positions, they have remained in the Sports Industry and not ventured outside. So recruiters are looking for consistency.

    I am absolutely certain that I could nail the interview but given how selective recruiters are I need to come up with a game plan!

    I realise just post 30 I really don’t want to do anything outside of Sports and want to get back in and then stay in!

    Definitely, need to do something, think outside the box to differentiate myself and bring me back into mainstream Sports Marketing.

    Any suggestions?
    Thanks for considering my case.

  9. Gail
    Gail says:

    I agree with the job hopping idea – I’ve had 24 careers so far this year!

    It’s not that I can’t keep a job, it’s a career challenge I set myself – to try 33 Careers in a Year.

    My project is a microcosm of job hopping & I agree with Penelope that job hopping is really worthwhile if you feel you could enjoy something else more.

    By working with different groups you gain exposure to different ideas, personalities, philosophies & networks, all of which can make you more well rounded as an individual.

    Plus it can open doors (or windows) to other paths you may or may not have planned on.

    If you’re unhappy in one job & stay there it’s likely that each day will look the same, so job hopping may well be worth a try!

    For many of us we have attributes that can’t necessarily be used in one job alone, but which we need to ‘job hop’ to exercise – & the exercise of these things can be so fun & educational for us.

  10. TJ
    TJ says:

    Job-hopping has been my down fall since I began work 1998. My life has not be perfect. Working between fast foods, sit in restaurants, and housekeeping I could never seem to have enjoyed any of it after so long. I am guilty of only stay a few weeks to about 8 months. Personal life hadn’t helped either. Went to prison in mid-2000’s and have still a revoked license. I’ve struggled with depression on where to even go with my life. I feel like I have been a gypsy and have lost my way. I now have been stable with a partner and lived in the same apartment for a year. That is great accomplishment except I lack any kind of work longevity and I am horrible at interviews. I can never understand what they ask me and I stumble on words to say. I am not perfect but I know I do have great qualities that makes a work place successful. I try to volunteer but traveling is an issue. I don’t know how to make my self successful. I feel I am too late for that.

  11. Karen Khuler
    Karen Khuler says:

    I’m surprised there aren’t more people commenting on this article! I, myself, am a “Job Hopper” who is more than “reliable, committed to my work, and stable” (many articles have stated the opposite, and I disagree!) and I love everything that you pointed out here because it’s true and I have LIVED IT so many times!!! Especially the fact that it really DOES “keep your learning curve high and your challenges fresh” and “allows you to build a professional network much faster than someone who stays in one position over a long period of time.” The biggest problem I see and even run into still today – and it’s 2014!!! – is that companies will state specifically in their on-line job postings “seeking long-term employee with a STABLE history of work” or “not seeking a Job Hopper” – it boggles my mind that they don’t recognize the “turn off” in those posts. In fact, the way I see it, it’s a fear that they have created or based on experiences within their company with employees leaving the job. Well… must be a good reason? Maybe they’re not giving them ENOUGH challenging work or the job was explained to the candidate in a different way than what it entailed when the candidate started working. There are so many factors today that just RUIN the way companies hire and I find turning down a “Job Hopper” to be an automatic failure on the hiring manager’s end – especially when that Job Hopper is not only capable of getting the job done, but also bringing so much MORE to the table than the company bargained for. Companies need to STOP the stereotyping and the fear/phobia of losing candidates who are quick learners, and learn to EMBRACE them and take advantage of their skills and talents. I’m one of those people who’s been out of work for quite some time because of this very scenario and I’m well capable of getting a job, I know a lot of people, but two things come to my mind: 1) I lack a specific skill set than cannot be learned overnight (i.e. mechanics, welding, engineering, IT), and 2) I live in an area that’s very job-type specific and it’s limiting as hell (Charleston, SC). There are more small entrepreneur type businesses and mom/pop shops here than anything else, and regardless of the fact that Boeing has built here, we still lack in variety when it comes to job opportunities. My best option is to move somewhere that has more opportunity in temp assignments vs. temp-to-hire assignments because this place is dead. I’m really sad.

  12. Yatin Gupta
    Yatin Gupta says:

    I worked as a freelance consultant for almost 2 years and that’s why there are too many job hops in my CV because when you freelance, you finish one assignment and then take up another one.

    I have been hunting for a job for quite some time now and whenever the HR asks me why too many job hops, I tell them honestly how and what happens when you freelance and then they never call me back.

    How do I convince them?

    Moreover, in India, hiring managers are pretty skeptical about various things and sticking around with a company in their biggest concern.

    Please help.

  13. Joe Mangos
    Joe Mangos says:

    I had a training for three months. They provided allowance. Prior to that, the company told me it was only a month long training but it turned out that they made it 3 months when i was already in the other branch for training. They never told me of the changes before. Now, 3 months training has passed and I am now into 5th month on actual job. Again, they assigned me in a distant branch which is about 2 hours commute away from home. I came to think that the company is not true to their words. They assigned me out base because there was a need for an employee to be replaced because he will be resigning which they told me very late. Now after they found a real substitute for the resigned employee after 2 weeks, here comes again a pregnant employee who will be having a maternity leave and guess what? Again, they made me a substitute for her. Instinctively, I somehow realized why they hired me- just to patch the temporary vacancies of the company. I felt this is unfair besides from working 8AM up to 10PM on average. Now, I am planning to quit on my 6 month stay. Am I unfair to the company? Or it is the company which is unfair? Is my resignation justifiable?

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