Have You Changed Jobs Too Many Times?

Change is a normal part of life. There is no avoiding it. And some people seem to thrive on change. They are always open to new ideas and better ways to do anything. They are quick with their decisions, and rarely second-guess the ones they do make. And once they decide on a course of action, they never look back.

A willingness to change is an admirable quality in many areas — but not always when it comes to your professional career.

A recent study shows an interesting trend about millennials and job hopping. Those who graduated between 2006-2010 averaged 2.85 jobs in their first five years in the workforce, compared to their Generation X cohorts, who averaged 1.6 job moves. That is almost twice as many jobs.

Some leap from one entire industry to another when they realize their college major is not meant to be their life’s work. Others say that frequently changing jobs is the only way they can progressively earn more money, as their employers drag their feet on pay raises. And some career blogs actually seem to be encouraging the practice.

I understand — you certainly do not want to spend your life in a career that does not make you happy. But here is why I think frequent job hopping can be a problem:

Prevents learning
It takes a year to just learn what you are doing in a new job. But if you are changing jobs every one or two years, you do not have time to learn anything meaningful or mature in your role by taking on additional responsibilities. This may hurt your career growth in the long run.

Shortchanges relationships
One of the most rewarding aspects of work is building camaraderie with a team. But a short tenure at each job will prevent you from developing meaningful relationships with your colleagues. You may grow your list of connections, but forge fewer lasting friendships.

Keeps you shallow
If your eyes are always watching out for the next opportunity, you are not aligned to your employer’s goals, but simply focusing on your own. And when you are always headed for the door, you forfeit the reward of working with a team toward fulfilling a larger vision.

Raises red flags
A resume listing many jobs within a short time period is bound to raise questions from potential employers. It can be a sign of someone whose career is on fire — or a sign of instability and poor judgment. So, be prepared to explain the job moves and share what you have learned from the experiences.

It is smart to keep an eye on your career and evaluate where you are headed.

So, what is the right number of moves? Well, that depends on who you are and what you are trying to achieve. But if you are constantly jumping from one opportunity to the next, you are potentially missing out on good opportunities right where you are.

There is something to be said for staying put, learning everything you can, and giving your absolute best. If you stick around at one place for long enough, you may be surprised to discover that the work is its own reward.

What is your opinion of job hopping?

About Brian and Aha!

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 roadmap software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the adventure of living a meaningful life.

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  1. Jason E

    Great thoughts! I couldn’t agree with the “red flag” warning more. Whenever I am reviewing a resume and see multiple employers at which the candidate stayed less than a year, i immediately begin to question whether they will do the same with us if we hire them. No one wants to stay in a job where they are not happy, but many job seekers today fail to consider that no employer is perfect and will leave the moment they dislike some aspect of their job. A resume is telling a story to prospective employers and it behooves everyone to consider what story their resume is telling.

  2. Sam

    Hi Brian,

    I agree that job hopping is often a red flag. However, a resume is not a person nor can the history recorded there be the primary determining factor when making hiring decisions. Last year, someone convinced me to interview at a startup based near my home. After reviewing their website, I decided to give it a try. They made no effort at all to woo me. It was all about evaluating my desire to work there. In fact, there was this basic orientation of distrust. That and their open environment sunk my interest in working there immediately.

    All my best hiring experiences involved some effort to woo me. Those same environments evaluated my technical knowledge and ability to execute. They took me out to lunch. This is a human-oriented hiring process. This is what we all want.


  3. Alice

    While I agree that job hopping can at times be a legitimate red flag, I disagree that is universally the case.

    Seeking new opportunities makes absolute sense to me if you have been in the same role for 1-2 years, and your learning and growth has stalled despite honest efforts to create or find growth opportunities for yourself in that role. In that case a transition seems less like instability, and more like commitment to your continued growth and success.

  4. Steve

    For the first time ever, i have to completely disagree with you Brian. Work is a 2 way relationship and yes, if employers are selfish and trying above all to maximize profit and shareholder value, so are employees who should strive every day to increase their market value. Employees should seek change whenever it offers a better opportunity, period.


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