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Job hopping refers to the trend within the modern job market of remaining in a role for a short amount of time before looking to move into a new job. Previous generations denounced this practice as inappropriate professional conduct; to be a job hopper was to be seen as disloyal and untrustworthy. However, the stigma of job hopping has ebbed in recent years. Whereas previous generations would extoll the virtues of a ‘job for life’, recent reports show that this concept is virtually extinct for younger generations of employee.
The rise in examples of job hopping can be attributed to economic and cultural changes; one key phenomenon is the rise of the gig economy, the labour market characterised by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work, as opposed to permanent jobs.
Another reason is to keep up to date with new technologies – particularly in digital industries, companies can sometimes fall behind in offering the opportunity to work with state-of-the-art systems or hardware. Individuals concerned with working with the most up to date tech are likely to want to move to companies with these resources.
There are advantages and disadvantages to job hopping, here are some examples of each:
Job hopping can open employees up to a variety of skills, as well as experience of working in different company cultures and under varying management styles. Those who move jobs more frequently are likely to flourish in a wide range of environments and can bring the experience of working in these different ways to a new role. They’re likely to have been exposed to many different ideas that they can then apply to future jobs. They are often seen as more adaptable and can show that they are clearly focussed on their career path if they are able to fully explain reasons for their job moves.
Another advantage is the opportunity to move up the salary scale quicker rather than staying within one role for a longer period, so, if salary is an employee’s main motivation, they could potentially benefit financially from moving jobs voluntarily more often.
Taking new opportunities can also give candidates access to a wide network of potential employers or business partners, allowing them to work out which roles they enjoy and excel at. Moving jobs regularly can show that they are not afraid of change and are constantly motivated to progress.
Depending on the industry and type of company, many employers, agencies and HR managers still value employee loyalty. Hiring new staff is an expensive and time-consuming process – if a job seeker’s record shows that they’re likely to move on again in little over a year or even less, the potential employer is likely to be reluctant to invest their resources in training and hiring them.
Although moving jobs frequently can keep your network fresh, any relationships made might be seen to be under developed. This can be problematic if swapping industries, as professional relationships may not be as strong as those kept within the same industry and may be detrimental when referrals or references are needed.
It is very common for contractors and consultants to move across several projects and contracts throughout their career. However, it is important to be mindful that if a permanent candidate moves too frequently, there is a risk that their CV or application could be rejected when the HR manager first looks at it. A functional CV may be better suited in this instance as it focusses less on each role held but more on transferable skills and experience gained.
Even if job hopping habits are relatively restrained, applicants will probably still be asked about them at the interview stage. If they can be justified, employers are likely to give the applicant a chance, and if it can be explained that job hopping has helped gain a broad range of skills and preparation for many different situations, it’s more likely that an applicant will still be considered for the role.
A job seeker will be better equipped if they can explain how they could offer their next employer the loyalty they may be looking for. Preparing for the interview question “What interests you about the role / company”, will offer the opportunity to address the issue of previous job moves whilst talking through what can be contributed to the role and company.