Does Job-Hopping Hurt Your Career?

The world has credited millennials with a lot of things, from putting a dent in the paper towel industry to revolutionizing the way we travel. The generation that values experiences and authenticity over materials has another distinctive characteristic: “job-hoppers.”

Job-hopping is exactly what it sounds like: enjoying short stints in careers before moving on to the next company or opportunity. For the millennial set, it’s especially common; according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, millennials between the ages of 18 and 28 held an average of over 7 jobs. By contrast, boomers held average of 12 jobs between 18 and 50.

Millennials switch careers more than their parent’s generation, and it seems like a trend that’s here to stay. Many people wonder if job-hunting will hurt their careers.

Possible Cons of Job-Hopping

In general, recruiters of the millennial generation expect a certain amount of job-hopping. However, certain red flags also could prove detrimental to later job searches. For example, experienced mid-level employees (think older millennials) have less room for job-hopping. A resume that reveals job moves every year or two could raise concerns about the nature of your employment and the dedication to your company. For example, did you leave the company willingly? As you advance in your career, it can become more difficult to tell for employers to tell.

If you have a valid reason for frequent job-hopping—for example, your spouse’s work or education requires it or you sought salary increases at other companies—it’s essential to say so in the interview. Failure to address frequent job changes, particularly as a mid-level employee, could prove detrimental to future opportunities.

Possible Advantages of Job-Hopping

On the other hand, certain benefits may exist to switching positions more frequently. Recruiters are more likely to expect job-hopping from less experienced employees—two to three year stints at companies are much more common in employees under the age of 35. Additionally, certain industries may even see job-hopping as desirable. Technical fields such as IT may view job-hopping as beneficial as employees gain knowledge about a variety of work environments and technologies. Similarly, project managers and travel nurses may show extensive job-hopping due to the nature of the position.

Best Practices for Job-Hopping

Are you a serial job-hopper? You can take certain steps to keep the ever-changing environment you desire while protecting your resume. If you want to change careers successfully:

  • Aim for a little introspection. Assess your current position and why you want to change jobs. Is it compensation? Company culture? A simple desire for new scenery? Be prepared to answer these questions in a possible interview.
  • Ask for an opinion. If you have a career mentor, now is the time to consult with him or her. Talking it out can help you determine if it’s actually the right time to leave your current position.
  • Exit on favorable terms. If you decide to pursue job opportunities elsewhere, provide your employer with plenty of notice and do everything you can to ease the transition. This will make any future job moves easier as you’ll have a favorable reference in your pocket, or it can leave a door open should you decide to return.

Job-hopping might be more popular among the millennial generation, but there is a right way to pursue frequent job moves. By assessing your options, eliciting second opinions, and leaving on good terms, you can protect your career trajectory and reputation. Keep in mind that job-hopping looks less favorable as you approach mid-level—by then, job-hopping could appear disloyal.