Work Wanted: Job hopping a black mark on your resume

By Candace Moody
Wed, 27 Jul 2016, 06:08 AM

You’ve heard that “job hopping” is bad for your career – a red flag for recruiters.

Job hopping is defined as changing jobs “too often,” but of course that’s subjective. Most managers agree that multiple jobs held for two years or less will qualify you as a job hopper (layoffs happen, of course.) As are many workplace standards, the definition of job hopping is evolving.

According to research by Workopolis.com from its database of resumes with work histories dating back to 1990, the number of people who stayed on the job less than two years rose from 16 percent to 33 percent, doubling from 1990 to 2000. Since 2000, the number has almost doubled again, from 33 percent to 51 percent. Only 30 percent of workers hold jobs for more than four years.

Why is job hopping considered bad behavior? For employers, it’s costly and frustrating. Most employees return almost no value for the first three months while they’re onboarding and training. It takes six months to a year to become competent at a complex job. Having to start the recruiting, hiring and training cycle over costs the company the months of salary they invested in a hopper. They’ve also missed the opportunity to hire qualified candidates who might have stayed, but by now will be off the market.

Your character is inferred by your willingness to stay on the job. An employment offer is a contract; the company agrees to pay and train you for a certain salary. You agree to learn and work for that salary for the foreseeable future (until you can take on more work and provide more value.)

Leaving for a better offer within a few months will feel to your employer like you’re reneging on your end of the agreement. (If you needed to make a dollar more, you should have waited for the right offer, or tried to negotiate it up front.)

If you leave because you’re just not into the work or the culture, you may think you’re doing the company a favor. But without deep thought into what you really want, you’ll find yourself taking on job after job that doesn’t interest or excite you.

Almost all work has dull moments, especially in entry-level jobs. If you never stay around long enough to learn, you’ll be perpetually assigned low-level grunt work.

I’m not saying that you should never quit when the work or the company is a poor fit. You’re bound to have a couple of bad experiences when you’re young.

One or two early hops make sense; you might even re-label them “job shopping” until you find a good fit. But after your mid-20s (or two years out of school, whichever comes first), it’s time to learn to stick with something for more than a year – preferably two. Show that you’re able to learn and grow on the job. Show that you have patience and are willing to work for a delayed reward. Develop more advanced skills that you can take to the next company.

It may not be true that winners never quit. But quitters don’t often win.

Candace Moody is vice president of communications for CareerSource Northeast Florida. Her column appears every Wednesday in the Times-Union, and she can be reached at cmoody@careersourcenefl.com.

Posted with permission of Candace Moody.

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