Community Question: Is job-hopping really that bad for your career?

Photo credit: Antibus13, Creative Commons/Flickr
Photo credit: Antibus13, Creative Commons/Flickr

The average worker stays at his or her job for 4.4 years, even less for younger employees, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and a recent article on the prevalence of job-hopping from Forbes. Yet, even though this practice is more common, hiring managers still look down on changing jobs frequently.

One of the biggest challenges to unemployed candidates is if they have a history of job-hopping, or leaving their job after less than a year, according to a 2012 survey by online recruiting software company Bulhorn. Overall, 39% of recruiters and hiring managers said so. But not everyone sees this as all bad.

Ashley Lauren Perez, of the blog Social HR Connection, argues that, as the economy and workforce have changed in recent years, so should opinions about job-hoppers:

Sure, there are the people that fit the unreliable, job-hopping stereotype. On the other hand, there are plenty of people in this economy’s workforce that do not. For example, some people may not have willingly job hopped. Over the recent years, many people have been laid off and/or have had a hard time finding stable work. Because of this, people may not have left jobs voluntarily or may have had to take odd jobs just to stay financially afloat.

She also argues that some candidates may have used temporary or short-term positions in order to gain experience in a new field, while others may still be looking for the industry, position, and company culture that best suits them. Overall, she said, “Take the time to speak to the individual and assess whether or not they could be a good employee for your company or a costly decision. Sometimes you may be pleasantly surprised.”

What do you think? Is job-hopping all bad? If you do have a history of job-hopping, how can you present yourself or tell your story in a way that is appealing to hiring managers?

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    • Cassie Marshall
    • April 1, 2013

    As a soon to be graduate of college, I am somewhat concerned with this issue as I have been a full time student with summer jobs (usually four months long) interspersed throughout my resume. I wonder, do employers take this into account when hiring recent college grads? While I would have liked to keep my past job experienced for a longer period of time, many jobs were in different locations from my college, and I wanted to be fully committed to my school work.

      • Sarah
      • April 2, 2013

      I think employers understand the nature of summer jobs/internships during the college years, especially if you had good reason for changing locations in the summers (e.g., living at home or having a job that wasn’t available near your school) and/or have a strong academic record that speaks to your commitment to schoolwork during the year. The only question is how the person reading your resume will assess your total experience based on several jobs of shorter duration; I imagine some will see that as having little _true_ work experience outside of college, whereas others might be more inclined to count three four-month jobs as approx. 1 year experience. Good luck!

    • L.M.M.
    • April 2, 2013

    I wonder, if you do fit into the category of job hopping in order to try new fields, is it useful to denote this on your cover letter? I left a steady corporate job nearly a year ago in an industry I was unhappy with and have been working a series of temporary jobs in the meantime. Part of the reason I’ve taken temporary rather than permanent jobs is due to the fact that I need to make ends meet while looking for something more suited to my career objectives. How do you make this apparent as an applicant?

    • Briana
    • July 4, 2013

    Job hopping is just another stigma against candidates. If you are unemployed then forget it. If you get laid off and hold more than one job you are “job hopping”. What are people thinking? The perfect employee who has worked in an organization for five years, with a Masters/Bachelors degree, with model good looks is not going to stay in your little entry level job for more than a hot second. They will be surfing the web for a new job on company time by day two.

    • Briana
    • July 4, 2013

    How in the world are any of us supposed to survive without “job-hopping”? Dear lord. I have been laid off so many times and the flack I get for short stints frustrates me. People want you to stay in a job forever and then commit to their company where their turnover is the same? I mean come on. Give me a break. As if that’s anyone’s fault. First it’s okay to discriminate against the unemployed and now the “job-hopper”. I’d love to see people out there know what it’s like to lose a job!

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