Job Hopping: Yea or Nay?

Job HoppingLadies, let’s talk about job hopping: Do you view it as the only way to get ahead? Do you worry about being viewed negatively if you’ve had too many jobs in too short a time? What do you think is the minimum time to stay in one job?  

In the recent past, job hopping was universally seen as negative. It was said to make employers question your commitment and reliability, and job hunters were often advised not to include short-term positions on their resumes and to stay a certain length of time at jobs they hated to avoid tarnishing their employment history.

The GenXers and Baby Boomers among us — especially those with parents who stayed at one company for their entire careers (can you imagine that today?) — may still have a negative impression of frequent job changers. In the last few years, though, the news has been full of headlines reflecting an evolution in how short-term jobs are viewed. Articles that wonder if job hopping is “losing its negative stigma” or “losing its bad rap” and those that give tips on how to change jobs “strategically”  are just a few examples. While job hopping isn’t exactly welcomed by employers, surveys and studies have shown a change in attitudes, especially among Millennials, about switching jobs more frequently. Check out these representative stats:

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Your Job, Your Career, or You: When to Quit Your Career

hate job or hate careerWhen should you quit your career? How do you know when you’ve chosen the wrong one? How long should you give yourself before you quit — and how many jobs should you try in that career? Reader F has SUCH a great question about this:

Question for you: how do you know if you hate your particular JOB or hate your whole CAREER? I’m a first year associate in (the biggest of) big law, and I know it was supposed to be hard — I knew I was going to bill 200 hours a month coming into this! — but I think my position might be particularly hard because of people I work for. How do I know the difference between a challenging environment (and maybe should switch jobs) or a terrible career choice (and maybe should switch careers)? At what point do you throw in the towel and say, “It’s not them, it’s me”?

I can’t wait to hear what readers say here because I think this is something a LOT of people — particularly entry-level BigLaw lawyers — struggle with. We’ve talked about changing careers before (the pros and cons of different careers, as well as my own experience in career changes. While I had yet to find my fit in the law before I decided to focus on this blog, many of our readers are happy lawyers, and hopefully they’ll have some great advice for Reader F. For what it’s worth, though, here’s my take:

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The Flighty Worker: How Many Jobs Can One Have in a Short Period of Time?

should you job hop to get ahead?2016 update: Check out our latest discussion on job hopping.

How does job hopping affect your career prospects? If you take a job with the intention of quitting soon, how bad is that? Reader T writes in with an interesting question about job loyalty…

I am leaving my current company as a result of my discovery of some unethical practices. I had originally hoped to move to a job abroad after my stint here, but I had banked on a having a longer timeline to work with.

I am now looking for a new job in my current (States-side) area. However, I’m also still clinging to hope of that job abroad. My question is, assuming I can quickly find a new job in my current location, how many bridges would I inevitably burn if I were to jump ship after a couple of months? For that matter, would international companies be unwilling to hire me if I’ve only been at Interim Job for less than a year? Not to mention, I would have to leave International Job after 2 years anyway in order to pursue my MBA. Finally, would I be reducing my chances of getting into a good business school by possibly sending the (false) impression that I’m flighty? In sum, how do I make this transition as non-destructive as possible?

Wow… my first impression is that I’m tired just reading your plans! Ultimately, I think you should avoid taking a permanent job for as short a period of time as “a couple of months,” but taking a job with the expectation of going to business school down the line is fine (with the understanding that the adage, “God laughs when you make a plan,” is often true.)  Let’s discuss more — I’m curious to hear what readers say, particularly about whether multiple jobs in a short period of time will hurt your b-school prospects.  (Photo credit: -RejiK.)  A few more quick thoughts:

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