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The Job Hopping Debate, Explained

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6 min read
hiring manager sitting and talking to a new hire on their first day at the new job

The norm used to be that employees would choose a company, get comfy and stay there for most of their working life. Those days are now long gone.

Our social media feeds are constantly flooded with new opportunities and organisations shouting about their competitive salaries. Although these may be tempting from a financial perspective, they also beg the questions: Is the grass greener? Will I be happier in this role? Will this role allow me to progress? Will I gain a better work-life balance?

According to a study by Reed, 62% of UK professionals believe that changing jobs frequently is now more acceptable compared to a decade ago. So, are the tides turning?

Supporters argue that frequent job changes can be a strategic career move, offering opportunities for better skills, more money, and improved job satisfaction. However, some sceptics still voice concerns about diminished loyalty, potentially negative effects on workplace culture, and the loss of valuable organisational knowledge.

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What is Job Hopping?

Job hopping describes the way in which employees frequently jump ship and change jobs within a relatively short period. It involves moving from one job to another in quick succession, often within a span of a few years or even months (or even weeks for the seasoned job hopper!).

Rather than following the traditional path of long-term employment with a single organisation, job hoppers actively seek new challenges or better prospects elsewhere. This trend has gained traction in recent years as individuals embrace a more fluid approach to their careers. Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals that the average number of job changes for workers aged between 18 and 48 has risen from 10.7 to 11.4 in the last ten years, reflecting the shifting dynamics of the UK job market.

Why Job Hopping Could Be a Good Move

An individual sits at his new desk - he has switched jobs recently. The hiring manager asks him how he is settling in.

Doing the job hop might not be a bad shout when it comes to your career.

Climbing the Ladder

One of the main advantages of moving onto a new job every now and then is that individuals who do, see accelerated development and can be seen climbing the career ladder much more quickly than others in their field. A study by Robert Half found that three-quarters of people under 34 believe job hopping benefits their long-term prospects. With each job switch, individuals can acquire new skills, knowledge, and expertise, ultimately enhancing their marketability and promotability.

Skills Turbo-Boost

A job hopper can also reap the benefits of receiving fast-tracked skills development. Moving between different roles and organisations exposes individuals to diverse work environments, challenges, and technologies. This exposure builds adaptability, versatility, and a broader skill set, making individuals highly desirable to other organisations.

Sector Agility

Job hopping provides a unique opportunity to gain an understanding of different industries. Employees will be able to quickly adapt to new surroundings, regardless of the industry. By exploring many different sectors in quick succession, employees can develop a more holistic perspective, enabling them to identify emerging trends and bring innovative ideas to the table.

Cultural Sensitivity

The pure nature of job hopping also means that individuals get to experience different organisational cultures. Each new workplace unit will have its own set of distinct values, work styles, and approaches, allowing employees to refine their EQ when it comes to cultural nuances. Individuals will gain valuable interpersonal skills and cross-cultural communication abilities.

More Money

Arguably one of the top reasons for making the move: job hopping can lead to increased salaries. Studies show that individuals who change jobs frequently tend to negotiate higher salaries, often benefiting from the competitive offers presented during the job search process. According to a survey by Glassdoor, job hoppers experience an average salary increase of 10 – 20% compared to those who stayed in the same role over a long period.

Self-Awareness and Clarity

Last but not least, job hopping enables individuals to gain a deeper understanding of their own personal strengths and abilities. Through experiencing different roles, responsibilities, and work environments, professionals can identify their core competencies and areas of expertise. Meaning that job hopping often leads to increased self-awareness and improved career decision-making.

The Disadvantages of Job Hopping

An individual shakes the hand of the hiring manager as he accepts a new job. The hiring manager is concerned he may become bored easily in his new role.

‘Job hopper’ used to be that taboo label that every candidate would fear when submitting their CV. Individuals often face criticism and sometimes negative perceptions from both recruiters and hiring managers, who would see their work history as a red flag.

Work Ethic Questioned

One of the most obvious reasons for this perception is down to hiring managers believing that short tenure equals poor work ethic and loyalty. Employers may be hesitant to invest in employees they believe will move on quickly. Recruitment and onboarding processes can be costly and time-consuming. As a result, your average hiring manager may view job hoppers as risky investments, preferring candidates who demonstrate commitment and stability.

Lack of Security

Job security is another concern linked to frequent job changes. Being in that constant state of ‘probationary period‘ can be concerning for some. Employers don’t always have to follow a full and robust process before terminating a contract of employment for employees with less than two years service. In an era of economic uncertainty, employees may feel more inclined to prioritise stability to avoid the risk of being let go with little notice.

Surface Level Impact

Additionally, job hopping can hinder individuals from fully immersing themselves in a role and making a substantial impact. With shorter tenures, developing a deep understanding of the organisation and its processes may be challenging. Consequently, job hoppers may struggle to contribute significantly or leave a lasting mark in their roles.

Challenges in Connecting

Building meaningful workplace relationships can also be a challenge for job hoppers. Meaningful professional connections often require time and sustained engagement to build that trust. Employees who frequently change jobs may find it difficult to establish strong bonds with colleagues, line managers, and clients. This lack of long-term relationships can limit networking opportunities and hinder the development of a robust professional support system.

When to Think Twice About Job Hopping

An individual shakes the hand of the hiring manager as he accepts a new job. The hiring manager is concerned he may become bored easily in his new role.

While job hopping may have its advantages, there are certain circumstances where individuals should exercise caution before pursuing frequent job changes.

The economic climate plays a crucial role in the consideration of job hopping. In uncertain times, job security is paramount. This uncertainty can leave them vulnerable to layoffs or downsizing, particularly if they have not had the opportunity to build a solid foundation within an organisation.

The state of the labour market is another important factor to consider. In a slow job market with limited opportunities, job hoppers may find it challenging to secure their desired positions or negotiate favourable terms. It is essential to assess the market conditions and ensure that there are ample opportunities available before deciding to change jobs frequently.

It is also crucial to really examine the underlying motivation for job hopping. Suppose the primary reason for seeking new employment is to escape responsibilities or challenges within the current role. In that case, it may be worth considering a more significant career change rather than just moving to another company. Reflecting on long-term goals can help individuals make more informed decisions about their career path.

When Organisations Should Embrace Job Hoppers

Job hopping can be great for employees and employers alike. There are many different situations in which organisations can benefit from embracing job hoppers. For instance, it can be a strategic approach to talent acquisition.

Job hoppers often bring a fresh perspective and an injection of innovation and creativity. Their experiences across different industries and organisations expose them to diverse practices and approaches. This diverse background can result in a unique blend of ideas and insights that can drive innovation within the organisation.

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Secondly, organisations facing a skills gap can find value in hiring individuals who frequently move around. In a turbulent economy, certain skills become increasingly in demand, and organisations may struggle to find individuals with the specific expertise required. With their varied experiences and exposure to different roles and industries, job hoppers can possess a diverse skill set that bridges these gaps.

Job hoppers can also be particularly valuable in filling hard-to-fill roles. Some positions may require niche or specialised skills that are scarce in the job market. By actively considering job hoppers, organisations can increase their chances of finding candidates with the specific skill sets needed for these challenging roles.

Does Job Hopping Help or Hinder Careers in the Long Term?

The question of whether job hopping helps or hinders careers in the long term doesn’t offer a straightforward answer. Whilst job hopping can provide significant benefits to individuals, it also faces criticism.

Ultimately, the impact of job hopping on an individual’s career depends on various factors, including their industry, personal goals, and the specific circumstances surrounding each job change. Job hopping can be a strategic move when aligned with career aspirations, providing opportunities for growth, learning, and professional advancement. However, it is crucial to balance the benefits of job hopping with the potential drawbacks, such as perceived instability and limited opportunities for building long-term relationships.

Successful management of a job hopping career requires individuals to demonstrate adaptability, a strong track record of accomplishments, and the ability to effectively communicate the value they bring to potential employers. On top of that, individuals should carefully consider the economic climate and their motivations before deciding to make the jump time and time again.

Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to whether job hopping helps or hinders careers in the long term. It is a nuanced decision that requires careful evaluation of individual circumstances and personal aspirations. But a change in the tide means it certainly seems to be more acceptable in the eyes of employers, which means the choice is truly down to the individual.

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Amy is a knowledgeable People professional with over a decade of experience across a variety of private and public sector organisations. With a particular interest in employee engagement, Amy is an advocate for employee-centric approaches in all areas of HR which is reflected in her writing. Before a career in HR, Amy read English and Creative Writing at university and later studied for her CIPD, HR Management.

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