Does ‘job hopping’ hurt your career?

I would like to share a story.

I recently had a conversation with my friend, Jane. She recently started a new job but she already received interest from another company. Jane is apprehensive to switch. But the new opportunity is really intriguing. She is apprehensive to switch jobs because her resume is filled with a new job every 12 to 24 months. She hasn’t stayed at a single company for more than 2 years.

Jane’s CV reflects that of a ‘job hopper’; someone who moves from company to company every year or two and has done it many times.

Jane asked me my opinion, since I work at a recruitment company, despite not a being a direct recruiter. So I said let me ask.

The response I got from Recruiters was not straightforward.

Some Recruiters say yes and some say no

Martin Collins, Founder & Managing Director at Red Executive says, “20-30 years ago it was common for people to spend their entire career at a single company. But today, it’s not. It is my belief it’s a generational thing. It’s common among Millennials to continuously change jobs.”

Julian Cassar, IT Recruitment Lead at Red Executive said, “in today’s fast-paced technology driven world, candidates need to stay on top of the hot trend and constantly improve their skill set. Sometimes that just isn’t possible by staying at one company. Candidates need to go where the market requires their skill, which is especially true in today’s candidate driven market.”

On the other hand, Jane’s spoke with a Recruiter she knows, John. He said, do not leave your job. It makes you look like a ‘job hopper’ and each move gets harder and harder to explain to hiring managers.

This left me wondering, when is ‘job hopping’ acceptable?

John said it can be difficult to place someone who ‘role hops.’ A candidate that rarely stays at a job for more than two years can be a red flag to hiring managers. It is hard to back a candidate whose resume is littered with jobs. If it only happened a few times, that’s fine, but it can become a problem when it’s a long-term pattern.

This lead me to wonder: if one candidate claims the work environment was intolerable, is this a legitimate reason? For example, if the candidate feels they cannot help the business achieve their goals and the company was not delivering on their promises, is this considered a good enough reason?

The answer is yes and no.

John says, an intolerable work environment is subjective. If the company has a reputation for this type of behaviour than it is easier for us to support the candidate.

Martin believes, hiring managers want to know why the person continuously leaves their jobs. We have to justify and explain each reason for leaving. But we will only do that if we truly believe in the legitimacy of why that person is leaving. We can’t support a candidate if we don’t believe in them.

Whereas Julian says, if the candidate is a contractor, ‘job hopping’ is acceptable. ‘Contractor’ is clearly labelled on a CV and generally doesn’t cause hiring managers to question.

A bunch of jobs on Janes resume can be easily explained, funding dried up or the company restructured and she was made redundant. These are acceptable reasons and outside of her control. Many of these companies were start-ups because she loves the idea of working on the ‘next big thing’ from the start. None have panned out so far but she hasn’t given up hope. At the same time, she wants her resume to be strong and still be considered a good hire. What is she to do? Take the new job? Or stay at her current role and build a stronger CV?

The answer is not clear.

What do you think?

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This post was written by Alyssa Jacobs, Marketing & Social Media Manager at Red Executive

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