Job hopping: how do HR managers and employers feel about it, and is it actually as bad as it seems? 

Job hopping: how do HR managers and employers feel about it, and is it actually as bad as it seems? 

17 Nov 2022

Today, I want to share my views on job hopping – the constant (or relatively frequent) job changes that some HR managers and jobseekers are so afraid of happening. Regular job hopping implies that you have been in the same position for no more than a year or two. Depending on the industry, this “unacceptable” period varies. In one field, three months would already be a serious period; in another, ten years wouldn’t be enough time to gain expertise.  In any case, job-hopping is an evergreen topic heard at industry conferences, in high offices and interviews. So what do you do about it, and how do HR people and executives perceive job-hopping in the current environment? Well, I’ll tell you all about it in a moment.

Is it okay to change jobs often? 

It depends on the case and the industry, but mostly, the answer is the same: it’s okay to do what you think is alright. The concept of “one life, one career” has been irrelevant for about twenty years now. People retrain, restart their careers, and become specialists in related and even completely new professions. Additionally, the younger employees are, the more likely they are to be job-hoppers. The younger generation doesn’t agree to stay in a company with nothing to offer them (or the one that offers them something they don’t need). After all, even my educational platform, Lectera, helps people of all ages to reskill, go to universities in other countries, move abroad on work contracts and learn future professions absolutely from scratch. Our students can be as young as fifteen or as old as sixty-five! And believe me, they don’t care that they may already have three or four careers that once inspired them. Personally, I think that’s great. 

Forget the word “normal.” Stop living by the rules of the society around you because it won’t get you anywhere anyway. Instead, seek, formulate, and refine your own rules and never settle for what a largely stale society offers. Remember, all boundaries and limits are only in your head. Do you want to change jobs even though you haven’t even been in your current position for a year/six months/one month? Well, then change it! Think of it as a sign telling you that your gut feeling is right.

What on your resume can really worry a recruiter?

Large gaps in your CV. For example, you haven’t worked for two years and haven’t been employed anywhere. Tell the interviewer where you’ve been all this time and how you’ve been levelling up your skills while you were unemployed. What have you been doing? Why didn’t you go straight into a new career? Furthermore, be honest because, otherwise, sooner or later, you will get caught out, no matter how good you are at lying.

When switching from one industry to the complete opposite, you’re fine if you can draw a line (however thin) from one job to another. If, on the other hand, you’ve changed entire industries as if you wanted to find your purpose in this world in three months and jumped from one to the other – expect questions from the HR department.

Fast-paced change of positions that require you to learn longer than what you’ve spent in the previous position. The recruiter will ask: “How on earth did you learn all this when you had so little time?” And, “How did you combine studying and working in a position that required much of your attention?” It is unlikely that you can come up with an answer to this question without being branded as the office’s chief liar.

How do you present a job change in a CV or cover letter?

Well, the short answer is that you don’t. There’s no need to write about why you changed jobs, were ill, or were in training. If they ask you at the interview, you answer. Up to this point, there is no point in apologising and saying, “Yes, I changed jobs, but don’t think badly of me!” Formulating your answer directly for a specific interview and trying to restructure your CV is better. Let all the jobs match the competencies: “Team management – three jobs with dates (years) and duties,” “Marketing analytics – two jobs,” and so on.

How an HR person views job hopping

The HR person probably won’t care. As long as you haven’t changed jobs weekly and can explain why you’ve worked there and everywhere, and as long as your industry assumes you won’t remain in the same place for a long time. At most, the recruiter will want to understand why you left a particular position, what motivated you to choose the job, and how you decided to step into the position, etc. If you can explain your motivation and draw logical arrows from one job to another, showing where and what you were not satisfied with before and where you just dreamed of a bigger salary, then you will win this “round” no problem.

What’s important for an interviewer to see:

  • You are responsible and have changed jobs for objective reasons, not because you just got bored.
  • You are loyal to former companies and do not “spill the beans” to competitors.
  • You have a wide range of skills and can apply them to a new job.
  • You are persistent and committed to your work, although you always choose yourself rather than a conventional collective goal that makes no sense.
  • You change jobs consciously; you don’t approach the choice of a new position as a matter of course.

How a manager views job hopping 

It is important to the head of a department or business that you have a certain skill set and can implement them into your work. It’s up to the HR manager to find out if you’ve had conflicts with anyone you’ve met in the past, and why you left, and why you moved from position to position. They will, of course, pass on their opinion and your profile to the manager. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, they will only care about your suitability to work in a team, your ability to meet KPIs, your competencies and how they fit into the business. That’s all there is to it. 

Your personal qualities, of course, will also be of interest to your boss, but to a lesser extent. For example, job-hopping will get overlooked if you are a great professional who is good at what you do and has good soft skills.

What’s important for an executive to see: 

  • Have you learnt anything from the position you left within the job-hopping period?
  • What skills do you currently have?
  • How does your work experience support your competencies?
  • Where, what, and how have you studied, and what practical results have you achieved?
  • What tasks are you particularly good at doing?
  • What role in the team do you most often play, and why?

What is better: job hopping or staying in the same position? 

Only you can give an unambiguous answer to this question. In my subjective opinion, keeping the same job for too long is much more harmful than changing it regularly because it leads to professional stagnation. Moreover, your salary is no longer in line with the market benchmark, and you can forget about developing your career altogether. 

Keep in mind, changing jobs has advantages. For example, it can help you get a higher salary quickly, move places, climb up a few rungs of the career ladder, and so on. However, keep in mind that everything must be in moderation.  Inconsistent experience will spoil your even skills’ development, and you risk losing certain competencies. What’s more, if you overuse job-hopping, you risk it becoming a behavioural pattern: every time you encounter problems at work, you’ll get tempted to quit and look for “something better.” It is not the best strategy because problems will arise in any job, no matter how perfect it might have appeared at the get-go. 

And, of course, we can’t forget the benefits that are often only offered after a certain period of employment. So, for example, insurance, a comprehensive VHI policy, and bonus payments won’t materialise if you move from one job to another every three months. However, within the same company, you can change lines of business as frequently as you like because the benefits usually continue. I mean, after all, you’re not leaving the organisation. 

Don’t change jobs if you realise that constantly bouncing from job to job will harm your depth of knowledge, reputation, or even morale. Even if you gain in salary now, you may lose out later. You won’t be as relevant as your peers who have gained in-depth knowledge in a particular industry. Short-term gains will never outweigh long-term gains! However, calculated moves with consequences you understand will only help you. 

If you are a classic job-hopper or a professional who has obviously been stuck in the same position, come to my career marathon from Lectera! We’ll figure out exactly what to do in your situation, set career goals and work out how to achieve them.

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