There are many rewards and risks in job hopping, just as there can be lots of rewards and risks in a decision to stay with a current company. But they are not necessarily the same. Should you job hop or not?
First, let’s understand why job-hopping has been and still is in vogue. Prior to the 1970s, large and medium sized companies were often considered to be paternalistic toward to their employees, to the latter’s delight, and employees often had a “job-for-life” approach to joining a company. Job security was a prominent reason, while job satisfaction, compensation and benefits vied for second place. By the 1970s, in part due to the Vietnam war, which brought into question the honesty and loyalty of big government and large companies, the olden days’ paternalistic scenarios began to break down, as did other factors: the demise of pension plans, large scale lay-offs in many companies in the chase for stock values, efficiency goals, cost-per-unit, and outsourcing of jobs overseas…and it continues to this day.
Fast forward to 2017. Job hoppers are viewed warily by some hiring managers, though they are embraced by others because they are considered to be adaptable, have seen a range of company sizes and approaches (perhaps even those of your competitors!), and have a larger network of contacts. And hiring managers, take note: millennials change jobs, on average, every 18-24 months, so this trend has no sign of slowing down.
What are the risks and rewards of job hopping?
- Reward: The reward part seems obvious here! If your current salary/bonus/commission are below market, and your current firm is not willing to bring you up to an equitable rate, it may be time to start looking elsewhere.
- Risk: Job-hopping for compensation alone is a losing battle. You might get the compensation you want, but not have all the positive attributes your current job provides. Be sure to also factor in your total compensation. Beyond base salary, bonus, and commission (if applicable), how do benefits match up? Differences in health, dental, 401(k), stock options, vacation, sick time, commuting costs and the like add up, and that pay increase may actually cost you in the long run.
- Fit with the company culture and mission/vision:
- Reward: Finding a job with an organization with a strong culture, and with a product or service you really stand behind, or a nonprofit with a mission that you believe in with your heart and soul can be a magical thing.
- Risk: The “magic” may make you overlook some other key things, like fit with the actual job or chemistry with your manager and colleagues. Be sure to dig deep to ensure that you are not taking the wrong job with the right organization.
- Increased job satisfaction/more interesting work:
- Reward: It is a great feeling to have work that satisfies you. Moving for even more satisfaction can help you to grow your skills and hone your craft. Another option: if you are the type who bores easily, you may want to consider joining the “gig economy” and look at doing consulting, where you can work on a project basis and do all kinds of different and interesting work.
- Risk: If you are really, truly disinterested in the work you are doing, think long and hard about it. Is it really the current job, or is it the work itself? If it is the actual work, maybe you are ready for a larger-scale career change. Going someplace else may be a temporary fix, and once the novelty wears off, you may find yourself bored again. If your intuition tells you this may be the case, take a breather to figure out what type of work will fulfill you longer term.
- Advancement opportunities:
- Reward: Feeling like you can grow in your career is something that most people find to be essential, but sometimes you do have to go outside to make a move up.
- Risk: If a better title is your primary motivator, make sure this career move ^^ is going to check some of the other boxes too…or accept that it may literally be a move JUST for a better title. Also, consider talking to your current manager. Are there ways to advance within your current role by taking on new projects and honing specific skills?
- A great manager/team:
- Reward: Let’s suppose that the best manager you ever worked for calls you and asks that you come to his or her new company to work for them. Added bonus? Some of your favorite colleagues will also be joining the team. Or, suppose that you interview and the hiring manager is dynamic, smart, and easy to get along with, and the team members you met with seem committed, happy, and interesting. Ready to sign on the dotted line? I don’t blame you. Chemistry with your boss and colleagues can be a great thing.
- Risk: In the case of following a manager to a new role, the risk is that you get there and the manager leaves, be it due to personal choice, layoff, his/her promotion, or restructuring. Or, in the case of joining a new manager, that person who seemed so great is…not so great. Do your research to see who your new boss and team are and what they are all about.
- A startup that you think will take off in a major way:
- Reward: Working at a startup can be rewarding on many levels. As it grows, your opportunity to take on more responsibility and learn multiple parts of the business will be there. If it takes off, it may result in a wealth event for both the company and you, especially if you can get equity early on.
- Risk: Do your research on the market that the startup focuses on and the viability of their value proposition. Ask about funding sources, benefits, and if the founders are looking to grow the company, or are ultimately hoping to sell it…because you could end up working for another firm or find yourself out of a job if that happens!
All in all, job-hopping is a bet – but recent statistics show that most professionals will change jobs 9-10 times or more over their working life. Identifying the risks and mitigating them will help you be successful, whether you hop or not.
Cindy Joyce is the CEO of Pillar Search and HR Consulting. With personalized service and proven results, Pillar Search and HR Consulting provides retained executive search and recruiting services as well as human resources consulting to for exceptional nonprofits and socially responsible for-profit organizations. To learn more, please visit www.pillarsearch.com.