Job-Hopping: Does It Help Or Hinder Your Career?

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Whether it's an intentional strategy or not, some workers find themselves moving from job to job quickly in a short period of time, also referred to as job-hopping. Perhaps the job wasn't what the worker envisioned, maybe a better opportunity came along or sometimes circumstances simply change. A new CareerBuilder survey finds that by the age of 35, 25 percent of workers have held five jobs or more. For workers ages 55 and older, 20 percent have held ten jobs or more.

While it's not as common now for workers to stay at one company for the duration of their career, are employers more understanding of job-hoppers? More than half (55 percent) of employers said they have hired a job-hopper and nearly one-third (32 percent) of all employers said they have come to expect workers to job-hop.

But is this a move that can help or hurt your career in the long run? The answer is...it depends. Read on to learn about when job-hopping is expected and when it becomes a red flag.

New graduates may get a pass
Employers expect a higher rate of job-hopping among younger workers who are still trying to find their footing for their long-term career. When hiring a new college graduate, nearly half (45 percent) of employers expect the new hire to stay with the organization for two years or less, while more than one in four (27 percent) expect new college grads to stay five years or longer.

However, this may not be something to mention in an interview when the hiring manager asks how long you plan to be around or what your five-year plan looks like. Go into an entry-level job with the best of intentions and aim to garner as much experience as possible before pursuing greener pastures.

A phase you grow out of?
Just like new graduates, employers understand that younger workers are likely to try more jobs before they find one they can settle into for an extended period of time. However, employers become less understanding as job candidates mature. Forty-one percent of employers said that job-hopping becomes less acceptable when a worker reaches his/her early to mid-30s (ages 30 or 35). Twenty-eight percent find job-hopping less acceptable after the age of 40.

If you find yourself a veteran job-hopper, employers will expect a good reason before they consider hiring you. If this is the beginning of a pattern, prepare a convincing argument for why this is the job that you're ready to settle into. By appearing aware of your job-hopping, as well as being able to ease an employer's mind, you're much more likely to show that you can bring your varied experience to the position and thrive in it.

Job-hopping by industry
Though job-hopping can become a risky career move if your employment history looks sporadic, there are some industries where it's come to be expected. Information technology, an industry with a notable talent shortage and highly competitive recruitment tactics, has the largest percentage of employers who expect workers to job-hop. Rounding out the top five industries are:


(Click on any of the above links to search for work in those fields.)

How employers see a job-hopper
When does job-hopping become a red flag on a résumé? It depends a lot on the employer. The study shows that a significant number of employers (43 percent) won't consider a candidate who's had short tenures with several employers. In contrast, 55 percent said that they have hired someone they'd categorize as a job-hopper.

The difference in perspective may be what a candidate can bring to the position. More than half (53 percent) of employers said job-hoppers tend to have a wide range of expertise, and can adapt quickly (51 percent).

"More workers are pursuing opportunities with various companies to expose themselves to a wider range of experiences, build their skill sets or take a step up the ladder in pay or title," says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. "While building up a wealth of experience is a good thing, make sure that you're staying with a company long enough to make an impact and provide a return on the investment they've made in you. Employers may be more understanding of job-hopping today, but most employers are still more likely to hire the candidate who has a pattern of longer tenure with organizations."

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