It’s Official: Being a “Job Hopper” is GOOD for Your Career!

by Stacy Pursell, CPC, CERS

The VET Recruiter®

A LOT has changed in the employment marketplace since I first became a recruiter.

One of the things that has changed most dramatically is how “job hoppers” are viewed by employers. I’ve touched upon this subject before, but it bears repeating and emphasizing. That’s because it indicates a trend that continues to manifest itself and pick up speed.

It used to be that employers regarded “job hoppers” with skepticism. “Job hoppers” were defined as professionals who only stayed with an employer for a few years before making their next career move. “Back in the day,” employers were looking for candidates who would be inclined to stay with them for longer than just a few years. As a result, “job hoppers” were often overlooked when they applied for open positions.

What a difference a few years make.

Actually, it’s been more than just a few years, but it certainly doesn’t seem that way. That’s because the employment marketplace has done a 180-degree turn on this matter.

Now it’s the professional who is NOT a “job hopper” who is viewed with skepticism by employers. That’s right, it’s official. Being a “job hopper” is good for your career!

The rule rather than the exception

One of the reasons I can make this claim is that I have seen evidence of this about-face numerous times during the last few years. In fact, it occurred just recently. Here’s what happened.

I tried to place a candidate who has been virtually with the same company for the bulk of her career. However, my client wouldn’t hire her because she has worked for only one company. This kind of situation has happened more than once, and it’s happening more frequently.

In another instance, I worked with a candidate who was with the same company for 17 years. However, I had difficulty placing him because hiring managers were concerned that he would have a hard time adjusting to a new culture.

Since he had worked for the same organization his entire career, they believed that he had only seen things done one way and didn’t have the advantage of seeing how other companies operate and do things. I think that was something for which he was not prepared.

These are just two examples of this trend. In fact, I would not even classify it as a trend anymore. I would call it a reality. That’s because it appears to now be the “default setting” of the marketplace. In other words, it’s the rule rather than the exception.

It all boils down to what companies value

So why the 360-degree turn? Why is being a “job hopper” now a good thing for your career? It all boils down to what organizations value in their employees. In the past, organizations valued loyalty above all else. In actuality, they valued the illusion or the perception of loyalty. That’s because they couldn’t be 100% sure that if they hired somebody who had been at their previous employer for 10 years, that person would then be with them for the same amount of time.

But now? Loyalty is not as important to organizations. It is to a certain degree, to be sure, but not like it was 10, 15, or 20 years ago. Perhaps the Great Recession had something to do with that. Now the following things are more important to companies when it comes to finding new employees:

  • The willingness to take risks
  • The willingness to keep pushing forward to stay on the cutting edge of the industry
  • Exposure to a wide variety of work experiences and company cultures
  • History of working with a lot of different people in different positions
  • The accumulation of diverse skills and abilities

All of the things that organizations now deem as valuable are things that professionals are more likely to possess if they’ve worked at more than one company during their career. In fact, the more experiences you’ve had, the better, at least in the eyes of many hiring managers.

Think about it. Why did my clients not want to consider hiring the professionals I presented to them in my examples above?

It wasn’t because they didn’t possess the requisite skills. It wasn’t because they didn’t have the right experience. It wasn’t because they didn’t have a history of success within the industry.

It was because they had worked at the same organization for too long! That was the number-one reason they did not want to consider them. That speaks volumes about the way the marketplace has changed over the years, and you need to adjust to that new reality if you want to grow your career.

Why you should be open to opportunity

I’ve also written about the importance of being open to opportunity before, and this new marketplace reality underscores that importance. The fact of the matter is that loyalty could be hurting your career if that loyalty is misplaced and/or not deserved. You may feel as though you have a loyalty to your employer, but you also have a loyalty to yourself and to your career.

Remember, when you’re open to new opportunities, it does NOT mean that you’re agreeing to leave your current organization today and start work with a new one. All it means is this:

  • You’re open to at least hearing about an opportunity.
  • You reserve the right to reject the opportunity if it’s not better than the one you currently have.
  • If the opportunity IS better than the one you currently have, you might also be open to exploring it further.
  • Even if you agree to exploring it further, you still reserve the right to drop out of the process at any point, as long as it is professionally acceptable for you to do so. (Not showing up for an interview to which you agreed is an example of something that is not professionally acceptable.)

Do organizations value loyalty? Of course they do. Do they value it as much as they have in the past? They do not. Organizations want a lot in their new employees, and many of them feel confident in the fact that they’ll be able to keep those employees once they’re hired.

Do not be afraid to consider new opportunities and do not be afraid to make a move for a better opportunity. Not only will you be rewarded immediately with a better situation, but you could also be rewarded later in your career for your willingness to take risks and not let fear stop you from moving forward.

We help support careers in one of two ways: 1. By helping to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2. By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of organizations. If this is something you would like to explore further, please send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.