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Job Hopping

Updated: Jun 19

The world of work is constantly evolving, and the traditional concept of lifelong employment with a single company has changed. Job hopping, once frowned upon, has become more common as professionals seek new opportunities and prioritize their career growth. But how often is too often to change jobs, and is being labeled a job hopper necessarily a negative thing?

A man portraying hopping jobs

Whose is considered a job hopper?

In the ever-evolving world of work, the frequency of job changes and the perception of job hopping can vary. Traditionally, a person who voluntarily changed jobs every year at entry to middle level, or every two years at a senior level, could be considered a job hopper. The negative connotation associated with job hopping stemmed from the belief that individuals switched employers without a rational reason, driven solely by a need for adventure and excitement. However, this is often not the case.

In reality, job changes are often motivated by factors such as a lack of career progress or the potential for a significant salary increase. These are valid reasons that reflect an individual's ambition, desire for professional growth, and the pursuit of better opportunities. It's important to recognize that motivations for changing jobs can vary across different labor markets.

In developing countries, where uncertainty may be higher, it is more common for people to switch jobs every few months. Temporary contracts through agencies are prevalent before landing a permanent direct contract. This is particularly true in the Netherlands, where a significant portion of employees (4 in 10) do not have permanent contracts.

Moreover, different industries experience varying turnover rates. Sectors such as IT, retail, hospitality, and consultancy often see a faster turnover of employees due to factors such as project-based work or evolving market demands. On the other hand, industries like life science, oil and gas, and law tend to have longer average tenures.

It's crucial to consider the context of the labor market and industry when assessing the impact of job hopping. While there may still be some lingering negative perceptions, many employers now recognize the value of diverse experiences and the skills gained through different roles. Ultimately, the decision to change jobs should be driven by individual career goals, professional development, and personal circumstances.

Negative aspects

Job hopping can be perceived negatively by hiring managers and recruitment consultants for several reasons. One key consideration is the time it takes for a new employee to become proficient in their role and for their work results to become evident. It typically takes at least one year to learn the job requirements and another year for the outcomes of one's work to manifest. This learning period encompasses not only the tasks themselves but also understanding the company's culture, processes, and communication methods. When employees leave after a short tenure, the time, money, and resources invested in training them are essentially wasted.

Furthermore, employers may view a pattern of frequent job changes as a lack of commitment and dedication. They prefer employees who can be trained in industry-specific and company-specific skills, which often requires a significant investment of time and resources. A resume with inconsistent employment history can raise concerns about an individual's ability to remain engaged and committed in a role for an extended period. It may also raise questions about their performance, as employers may assume that previous contracts were not renewed due to underperformance.

These considerations highlight why some employers have reservations about job hopping and may view it as a red flag during the hiring process. However, it's essential to note that attitudes towards job hopping can vary depending on the industry, job market conditions, and specific circumstances. In certain industries or sectors where short-term contracts or project-based work are common, employers may be more open to individuals with a history of job changes. Ultimately, hiring decisions should consider a candidate's overall qualifications, skills, and suitability for the role, rather than solely focusing on their employment history.

Positive aspects

Recent trends like the booming gig economy and emphasis on project-based work have shaken up traditional views on 'stable' job histories.  Hiring managers are becoming increasingly open to resumes that don't fit the classic mold. Why? Because they see the advantages of adaptability and cross-industry experience.  Job candidates with diverse work paths may have honed their skills across multiple environments, gained knowledge from different contexts, and learned to function within varied workplace cultures. These qualities offer tremendous value in today's focus on inclusion and diverse teams. 

Moreover, someone comfortable navigating varied roles demonstrates initiative and an eagerness to evolve professionally. This capacity for growth and embracing new challenges appeals to employers seeking employees who think outside the box.

Additionally, a varied job history often means a wider range of professional connections. Networking plays a crucial role in securing new opportunities, and candidates with versatile backgrounds can tap into a broader network.

While a less conventional resume might lead to hesitation from some employers, more and more organizations understand the distinct strengths such individuals offer. For job seekers, the key lies in effectively highlighting how their unique journey translates into skills and a mindset beneficial to the target position.

Job hopping in your CV

Reflecting on your own job history and addressing potential concerns in your resume can help make it more appealing to hiring managers. Here are some suggestions to achieve that:

Begin by providing an explanation for any employment gaps you may have. If you lost a job due to circumstances beyond your control, make sure to mention this in your resume and offer an honest reason for termination. During interviews, reiterate this information to dispel any doubts a hiring manager may have.

In the case of sabbaticals or extended periods of time off, consider grouping them together and sharing details of your travel experiences and the valuable lessons learned. While sabbaticals are common in certain regions, it's essential to be aware of cultural differences and address any potential concerns about loyalty. When applying to international companies, mention your commitment to your new position in your motivational letter, emphasizing how your previous experiences qualify you for the role.

Additionally, utilize the heading of your resume to succinctly outline your future career plans and aspirations. Clearly communicate how the diverse experiences gained from various jobs will benefit the prospective company. Strive for honesty and realism in presenting your skills and qualifications, as this will be advantageous both for you and your potential employer.

While job hopping may still carry negative connotations, there is a growing acceptance among managers of the positive aspects it can bring, such as exposure to different systems and work cultures. However, to ensure that hiring managers and recruitment consultants take your job history seriously, it is important to provide clear explanations for leaving your previous positions. Take the time to address any employment gaps, including sabbaticals, and emphasize how the unique knowledge and skills you acquired during those periods will contribute to the growth of a potential employer. By highlighting the value you can bring to the table, you can help alleviate concerns and demonstrate your commitment to professional development.


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