3 Reasons Being A Job Hopper May Not Work For Your Career

by Hank Coleman

Being A Job Hopper May Not Work For Your CareerAccording to research conducted by the Harvard Business Review, a whopping 21% of Millennials left their job within the last year to pursue other opportunities. This rate is three times higher than the rate of job-hopping – defined as moving around to different jobs within a short timeframe as opposed to staying in one position long-term – reported by older generations. But, is job hopping right for you? Do the pros outweigh the cons as a job hopper? Is the grass always greener at the next job? It may not be.

The phenomenon of job-hopping seems to be the new normal, but why younger workers are switching employment paths more frequently than previous generations? Surely it must be more than just a generational mentality shift? The Harvard Business Review study says that 71% of Millennials surveyed had reported a lack of engagement or even “active disengagement” with their current lines of work.

71% of Millennials surveyed had reported a lack of engagement or even with their current lines of work.Click To Tweet

Dissatisfaction with one’s job or the company culture, low wages, boredom in the workplace, and the perception of stagnant job advancement are just some of the many reasons why job-hopping is increasingly prevalent in today’s economy.

Pros and Cons of Job Hopping and Being A Job Hopper

If you’ve struggled with the decision to stay or leave your current job, or perhaps you’re worried about how hiring managers might view a resume with lots of short-term positions instead of long-term loyalty to one or two companies, then here are some pros and cons of job-hopping to consider.

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Pro: Find Better Opportunities Elsewhere

When the economy was in a recession, voluntarily quitting an otherwise stable job would have been madness. But now that the economy has been improving slowly but surely since 2011, quitting a job to find a higher-paying job elsewhere is not uncommon, CNN Money reports.

Millions of Americans who are not exactly fulfilled in their current positions may leave for a more flexible, better-paying, or superior role to what they currently have because a stronger job market allows this moving-up-the-ladder strategy to succeed.

Millennials and other job hoppers already experience comparatively lower wage rates. So, there seems to be a greater financial incentive to jump on the job-hopping bandwagon and switch jobs more often to quickly increase their income.

The idea of favorable opportunities beyond your current job is not unique to any one generation, and the primary purpose of most job hoppers is to increase their pay, find more flexible jobs suited to their unique living situations, and eventually land a long-term career. Job hoppers want a career that not only fulfills all these requirements but also provides a reasonably high level of job satisfaction.

Staying with one company for one’s entire career is less important with each new generation. According to PwC’s report, “Millennials at work: Reshaping the workplace,” over 25% of Millennial employees who responded to the survey reported that they expect to have 6+ employers over the course of their careers (compared to just 10% of Millennials reported in 2008).

Furthermore, just 18% of Millennials in the PwC survey expected to stay with their current employers long-term. That indicates that job-hopping as a means to find better opportunities elsewhere will only become more prevalent in the years to come.

Con: A Job Hopper Lacks Stability

Just because job-hopping is an increasingly popular workforce trend does not mean it doesn’t come without its disadvantages. Job stability and the potential for future hiring managers to frown upon a scattered employment history are two of the biggest concerns employees have when considering multiple job switches in a short timeframe for job hoppers.

According to an article from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania on declining rates of company loyalty among employees, today’s employers still value company loyalty, but today’s workers are less inclined to pledge their working lives to a single company if they are not socially engaged, financially rewarded, or productively satisfied in their current work environment.

This disconnect between employers and employees on the issue of loyalty has external consequences for job hoppers with a handful of short-term jobs on their resumes. A research-infused infographic on job-hopping from Bullhorn Reach illustrates that 39% of job recruiters in the survey reported that job candidates with a history of job-hopping faced serious obstacles to regaining employment because of their sporadic work record.

39% of job recruiters say job candidates with a history of job-hopping faced serious obstacles to employment.Click To Tweet

What does this mean for you? For one, companies may be less willing to go through the hiring and training processes if they suspect you may leave within a year or two as a job hopper.

Secondly, job-hopping is simply not viewed favorably by hiring managers and recruiters because a quantity-over-quality resume demonstrates a lack of commitment to one’s long-term job prospects. HR’s perceptions, whether or not they are accurate for your situation, can create career instability for you, which is especially concerning because neither job stability or job satisfaction are ever guaranteed.

Pro: Create More Outside Contacts Job Hopping

If job-hopping were laden with disadvantages, then nobody would be doing it, right? Despite the potential job instability factor, the possibility of finding better opportunities and the ability to create a greater network of contacts throughout an industry are driving factors behind the job-hopping movement.

A May 2016 Gallup poll found that 36% of Millennials report that they’ll look for a new job over the next 12 months if the job market improves, which is a considerably higher figure than the 21% of older workers that reported the same mentality.

Actively looking for new jobs requires applying and contacting other organizations, which builds the jobseeker’s network, beefs up their LinkedIn connections, and creates an ever-expanding circle of contacts who could potentially offer the job hopper a better opportunity than the one their current employer offers.

As the old adage goes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Job-hopping could give you access to contacts you never would have encountered if you stayed within the confines of your current company and its employee base.

Con: Complicates Networking Within the Company

The downside to looking for and starting a new job every year or so is that cementing meaningful relationships with colleagues and employers is significantly more challenging. Quitting your job for any reason might lead to burned bridges with your coworkers and former boss, and if it turns out that the grass was greener on the other side and you want your old job back, it could be extremely difficult to convince them to rehire you.

Also, building relationships within your workplace is not just for the sake of career advancement. Forming friendships with colleagues and a steadfast partnership with your supervisor can affect your job satisfaction, whereas working with new people every year or two may diminish your ability to network beyond a superficial, temporary level.

Pro: Learn New Skills and Different Perspectives

Another huge benefit to switching companies and jobs before ultimately settling on a “career-oriented” position (if that ever happens) is that you can learn new skills and expertise in different job positions from a variety of employers. After all, nobody shares the same perspective and methods on everything, even if you work in a tight-knit, highly specialized industry.

For example, an April 2016 data analysis conducted by LinkedIn found that creative industries – media and entertainment – experienced the highest rate of job turnovers (job-hopping likely at play here), which indicates that employees learn what they can from one employer then move onto another higher-paying or flexible job with their newly-acquired skills.

An interesting side note: The LinkedIn analysis found that job-hopping is more prevalent among women than men.

With the exception of knowledge protected by non-disclosure agreements, you can present yourself to potential employers as an incredibly diverse and valuable employee when you have a history of job-hopping with reputable companies on your resume.

Con: A Job Hopper Can Potentially Lose Benefits

If you’re an independent contractor, then the potential loss of benefits experienced by job hoppers is non-unique to your situation. However, if you’re a steady employee accruing vacation days, sick pay, 401(K) funds, stock options, and other company-specific benefits, then job-hopping could erase these benefits and bring you back to square one.

For example, many companies do not allow new employees to immediately earn vacation days, which means a serial job hopper (one who switches jobs every 12 months, hypothetically) is losing out on vacation day and sick pay accruals for 30-90 days each year (depending on how long you have to work for a company before these benefits kick in).

Also at risk is your company’s health insurance plan. Who wants to risk losing health coverage in the midst of a job change? – and your 401(K) or pension plan, as well as employee stock options.

Although the general market trend seems to be decreasing rewards for loyal employees, these benefits are immeasurably valuable to long-term employees who can later cash out while their job-hopping peers struggle with job insecurity and a dearth of benefits.  

Job-hopping is not a new trend, but it’s surprisingly way more popular nowadays than in previous generations. As today’s economy proves more difficult to “have it all” in one’s job, more and more workers will continue to look elsewhere for higher wages, better benefits, more flexibility, and better contacts.

Job-hopping is not intended for folks who prioritize job stability above all else, but if you’re willing to risk a potential loss of benefits and long-term job security in favor of climbing the ladder with multiple jobs in a short period of time, then job-hopping may be what you’re looking for.

What about you? Do you like job hopping? Do you think the pros outweigh the cons as a job hopper?

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About Hank Coleman

Hank Coleman is the founder of Money Q&A, an Iraq combat veteran, a Dr. Pepper addict, and a self-proclaimed investing junkie. He has written extensively for many nationally known financial websites and publications. Hank holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and a graduate certificate in personal financial planning. Email him directly at Hank[at]MoneyQandA.com.


Hank Coleman has written 577 articles on Money Q&A. Learn more about Money Q&A on Twitter @MoneyQandA and @HankColeman.


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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jonny Pean

A compulsive job hopper is most likely to lose out on substantial appraisal benefits at some point or the other

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Hank Coleman

They will definitely lose out on benefits that would have accumulated throughout the employment if they had stayed with one company….no doubt about it.

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Millennial Moola

It’s got to be the right job. For me, moving between company to company if you don’t like the industry doesn’t make any sense. Chasing money won’t lead to happiness. Perhaps being entrepreneurial is a better fix.

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Hank Coleman

Chasing money definitely isn’t the way to go. I would hope that more people would research and know their industry before they jumped into it….but I guess not in far too many cases.

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Ms.Nichols

What I am finding in the design industry, is that many employers under-appreciate their art teams, and often ask far too much for too little compensation. Perhaps I have just not hit that rung of higher quality jobs yet, but in the first few years out of school, work is very limited, and as a generation, Millennials have the biggest debts and bills to pay back. We are forced to chase the dollar until we have enough skills to offer a bigger company to be considered “valuable.”

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