Job-hopping: The pros and cons of skipping out

Alina Dizik, Special to CareerBuilder

  • Email

Just because you're eager to leave a job doesn't mean it's a wise career move. That said, staying in a position that feels like the wrong fit may also hinder your career. Not sure what to do? Instead of jumping to the wrong decision, take some time to evaluate how job-hopping might affect your future opportunities. Here are the pros and cons of leaving your current job for greener pastures.

You'll get more targeted skills

In some industries, quickly leaving a job can help you gain more specific skills for your next gig. It's especially relevant in more technical positions, says Scott Ragusa, contract business president at recruiting firm Winter, Wyman. "Many highly technical consultants will add necessary experience to a very specific part of a project and then move on to the next one," Ragusa says.

You'll have a wider range of experience

Making strategic moves can also help you build expertise more quickly for a future role. For example, says John Crant, a career coach and founder of SelfRecruiter.com, "If you strategically moved across three roles to add marketing, advertising and public relations expertise to your career skill set, then you can position those choices as building the background that would be most valuable for the [next] role you desire."

You may get a pay jump

"When we stay a long time at one company, others in our field statistically move ahead of us in compensation," Crant says. Many companies implement pay freezes or only give employees a cost-of-living raise. If you're coming from a different company, hiring managers base your salary on your previous salary and may make a higher offer, he says. "You can generally get a higher adjustment to your compensation than what your annual review will give you," he says.

It will raise questions about your skills

Lots of short stints on your résumé will undoubtedly raise questions about your skills and work ethic, so be prepared with explanations. Many employers are hesitant to hire people who've held several positions for less than a year, because it shows that their skills were not a match for several companies. Especially during non-recessionary times, job-hopping can raise a red flag. "You may be looked at as damaged goods," Crant says.

Employers may question stability

"Job-hopping without a clear plan in place can be perceived as a 'difficult-to-keep employee' and some employers will not want to hire them for their next short hop," Ragusa says. This can be especially difficult in some large companies that place a higher value on job stability.

More importantly, some employers may go with a person who has previously held long-term positions, Crant says. "Though you may be the 'right one,' companies will oftentimes choose the individual that seems to offer the better return on their hiring investment -- the person that will stay with them contributing for the longer term," he says.

Even if you've had a few short stints, it's important to understand what employers are looking for in successful hires and be able to provide explanations for your experience, Crant says. Ideally, employers would like someone to stay for at least two years to really learn the ropes and about four to seven years to make it profitable for the company, he says. As you search for your next move, be sure to understand their view and focus on other achievements. "If you've had several quick moves, be ready to explain the reasons why those moves occurred, and make sure this employer knows that you are looking for the right career home with this move," Crant says.

Alina Dizik researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for CareerBuilder. Follow @Careerbuilder on Twitter.



Last Updated: 28/06/2011 - 3:17 PM


Article Reprints
Permission must be obtained from CareerBuilder.com to reprint any of its articles. Please send a request to reprints@careerbuilder.com.