Once upon a time, it was common for people to hold the same jobs for decades. Today, it’s a different story.
Among younger workers in particular, changing jobs is the new norm. In fact, a recent Gallup study called millennials the job-hopping generation and noted that 21 percent of those surveyed had switched positions in the past year. That’s three times the rate of job hopping among non-millennials.
In some cases, changing jobs can be a smart move. Not only does it allow workers to learn new skills and build networks, but it also enables them to find positions that leave them truly satisfied. However, swapping jobs too frequently can result in some serious downsides. Read on to discover how job hopping can hurt you professionally and discover tips to break this bad career habit.
You Could Be Viewed as a Bad Investment
Job hopping might be losing its negative stigma, but not every company is open to the idea of hiring someone who doesn’t show signs of settling down anytime soon. The reality is that recruiting and turnover are serious expenses for employers.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) Human Capital Benchmarking Report, the average cost per hire is $4,129. If you’re a frequent job hopper, you could lose out to applicants who seem more willing to stay put.
“When recruiting for more senior roles or those with greater responsibility, companies want to know that their investment in you will have a return of some sort,” said Jana Tulloch, human resources professional and owner of Tulloch Consulting, a company that helps businesses with their short-term HR needs. “Employee turnover is an expensive proposition. When I look at a resume of someone with more than 10 years of work experience and all their roles are less than two years, it raises flags.”
You Could Miss Out on Promotions
Of course, not all job hoppers find themselves struggling to land positions. While you might assume that frequently changing jobs hasn’t affected your career, the truth is that your lack of loyalty could still hinder your ability to succeed in the working world. Some hiring managers have long memories and might hesitate to promote you up the corporate ladder.
“Even if you do get hired, rest assured that the thought of ‘When will they be leaving?’ will be on the mind of your bosses,” said Gregory Serrien, author of “Engineer Your Success After College: How to Land a High-Paying Dream Job in Corporate America.” “This will undoubtedly curtail your growth and advancement at the company, as they will be extremely hesitant to groom you or promote you into a senior position if they are worrying about you leaving.”
You Might Be Rejected by Recruiters
Not only are some hiring managers hesitant to hire and promote people who switch jobs often, but recruiters might also question whether these individuals have the necessary qualifications and characteristics to succeed.
“Longevity usually denotes a number of positive attributes, most importantly skill in the position and loyalty,” said Travis Biggert, regional chief sales officer with HUB International Mid-America, one of the largest insurance brokers in the world.
Recruiters receive applications and resumes from many well-qualified applicants. When you’re competing with candidates possessing similar educational backgrounds and experience, the person with the most positive attributes is likely to get the job. And, unfortunately, some hiring managers perceive job hoppers as being disloyal or poor decision-makers.
You Have to Start Over Constantly
Every job has a learning curve. And if you hop jobs every few years — or months — you will continuously find yourself struggling to learn the ropes. Additionally, you will have to prove yourself to a brand-new boss and set of colleagues, said Kristen Richard, a millennial and marketing professional in Orlando, Fla., who switched jobs three times after graduating in 2014.
“I learned trust is not instantaneous, no matter where you go,” she said.
Not only does it take time to find your rhythm, but there’s also little room for career progression when you’re always on a learning curve.
“If you’re constantly starting over, you won’t be climbing upward nearly as fast,” said Valerie Streif, senior career advisor with mentoring organization Mentat in San Francisco. “Getting stuck in a similar position across different companies can get old, and then you’ll constantly have issues with finding satisfaction in your career.”
Tips to Break Your Job-Hopping Habit
Granted, the first job you land out of school might not be the right fit. Your boss could be a tyrant, your duties might differ from those in the job description and you might feel that the position is doing little to prepare you for the future. Seeking another opportunity makes sense in these situations, but think twice before switching jobs just for the sake of change.
Nobody said finding the right job is easy, but here are a few tips to break your job-hopping ways:
1. Be Choosy About Where You Apply
Picking the wrong types of jobs might be feeding your desire to jump ship every couple years. To minimize the temptation to job hop, be more selective when sending out applications.
“Don’t apply for jobs that do not support your long-term plan,” said Lauren Milligan, founder and CEO of ResuMAYDAY, a resume writing and career advancement company. “Once you’re on a job, talk with your supervisor about your career goals. Set a plan on how that can happen within that organization.”
Related: 10 Signs of a Toxic Workplace
2. Realize the Grass Isn’t Always Greener
No matter where you go, you’re probably not going to like everything about a position — or all the people who work for a company. Accepting that no job is perfect can help prevent you from bailing when a role doesn’t meet your every expectation.
“Don’t leave a company when things get tough,” said Amy Cooper Hakim, Ph.D., workplace expert and founder of The Cooper Strategic Group. “Rather, stick it out and then share that story (to demonstrate your resilience) when you do leave to go to a new company.”
3. Be Flexible
If you’re feeling bored or unmotivated in your current role, consider making a small change rather than jumping ship. Milligan encourages looking for internal opportunities. For example, if your current position doesn’t showcase or maximize your strengths, put your skills to good use working for another department within the same company. Keep an eye open for available opportunities within the company and then express an interest in these positions.
“Make slight shifts to your situation, rather than always trying to create a new situation,” she said.
Of course, you don’t need to spend your entire career working for one company, especially if the job is unfulfilling. However, it’s best to view job hopping as a last resort when you’re climbing the career ladder.