The Pros and Cons of Job-Hopping

Job hopping isn’t necessary a good thing.

Having run her company’s PR department for over a decade, Jessica has seen a lot of staffers come and go — some by their choice, some by hers. While most have stayed for between two and four years, a few for much longer (herself included), others don’t stick around long enough to really settle in.

When we both look at resumes and see that someone has jumped from job to job, spending less than a year or two at each place, it gives us pause. But more and more these days, young people get antsy after six months to a year (sometimes even less).

The reasons people leave vary — perhaps they feel they deserve or want a promotion, more money, more autonomy and flexibility, or they seek to join the latest start-up in hopes that they’ll get rich quick. And those things are not necessarily bad. It’s just important to be careful about how you navigate your career path so your resume doesn’t end up being disproportionately long compared to your short duration in the working world.

So, herein are some of the pros and cons of job-hopping:

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WHAT’S YOUR (RESUME) STORY?

It’s not news that workers today feel the need to jump around to get the money, experience or accolades they desire (and feel that they deserve). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median years a person stays in one job is 4.1 years (2008) and an average person will have to have 7-10 jobs over their careers.

Given that today’s workplace narrative has shifted from a loyalty tale to one where varied experience is king, your resume should be crafted to reflect who you are and where you want to go.  And, perhaps more importantly, when you walk into an interview, knowing how to share your resume story will be crucial to locking in any new opportunity.

Do you flit or sit?

FLIT: If you’re a “Butterfly” (i.e. candidates that have a long list of positions on their resume, each held for only a year or two), it begs the question: If the candidate is hired and the time (and money!) is spent on training, will he/she stick around long enough to make it worthwhile for the company?

SIT: On the flip side, maybe you’re more like a “Beagle” — someone who has been at the same company for years, who has demonstrated loyalty and dedication.   The one watch out: You may be seen as set in your ways or not as tapped into what’s happen in the current marketplace.

Whoever you are, when walking into a job interview, you should be prepared with a strong story about why you did/did not make the jumps:

  • Have you stuck it out at your company for a long time? Talk about qualities like loyalty and commitment and the opportunities that have been offered to you.  Come ready to share stories about your various victories and accolades earned.
  • Do you move around every few years? Focus on sharing the evolution of your experience and what that varied background can add to a potential employer.  Underscore your interest in finding a place to learn and grow for a while.
  • Are there gaps in your work experience?  It’s not unusual in today’s economy to have some gaps.  Maybe there were layoffs or shifts in directions that created the need to separate from your employer.   No worries, just make sure you’re prepared to talk about alternative experience (e.g. volunteering, school, externships) and that you can explain simply/easily why you and the companies in question parted ways.

Tell us, do you relate more to the butterfly or beagle?  What’s the story that you’ll tell to a potential employer about your work experiences?   Share your thoughts with us on Facebook or Twitter (@bestpublicist).