How long would you stick with one job? Two to five years seems to be the most common answer. It is enough time to learn the job, make changes and position oneself for a career move.
Many people don't seem to heed this wisdom, particularly in today's tough job market. A recent report in the United Kingdom found people are likely to change jobs more frequently either as they seek to advance their careers or because they were made redundant. The survey of 2,000 workers was conducted by London-based market research firm Mintel.
It found one in three workers remain in a job for less than two years one and five workers think about changing jobs over the next year.
The drawbacks to changing jobs often can be serious. From losing credibility among employers in terms of reliability and career vision to being labelled as a hopper, a person may end up finding it difficult to land a job when it is most needed.
If you've lost a potential job opportunity or suspect that you're seen as a job hopper, you need to begin immediately taking steps to reverse the negative impact on your career.
Drop insignificant jobs which include any jobs that were not relevant to your main career and too short in duration that you can hardly claim any acquired experience. The damage of having such jobs on your resume is much bigger than the benefit. However, if for any reason your interviewer seems to be aware of this work experience, don't lie. Explain why you thought it wasn't meaningful to add it to your resume.
If a potential employer questions your frequent moves as backed by your work history, don't enter into an argument. Instead, explain how you take their point that it seems like an issue, and explain the positive aspects of the experience you accumulated both professionally and personally by working in many places compared to your peers. Try not to sound defensive or scripted while you connect the dots between your previous jobs to show how you make a good match for the current opening. Finally, be sure you're not inventing connections that are impossible to exist.
Be ready to back up your argument with statements about stability and long term planning. Be clear what your goals are and how you're planning to realise them through committing to this job opportunity. You may enlist some of your references, to pacify any concerns your potential employer might still have when you reach this stage.
If you're some sort of compulsive hopper, be cautious how and where you change jobs. Your best bet is to change jobs with the same employer. In this case, you turn your hopping into valued flexibility through which you might earn loads of points for being useful and willing to change places more often than a standard employee. However, be smart about the timing and still stick with each job for long enough until your actually learn it and have an impact. One drawback, though, is you might eventually be forced to make a move that you never planned or desired as you become expected to accept changes.
If you must change jobs after a short stunt, do it appropriately for both yourself and your employer. You will need to maintain a positive record and be able to get a strong reference if you need to. So be patient and don't quit until you're sure your resignation won't expose your employer. Additionally, it is never advisable to quit too soon, particularly during your probation period. If you do, you will have hard time reversing a conclusion that you were fired. It might also be premature to judge a job and your decision might be triggered by the difficulty of the change itself.
Your small moves should make a big picture of skills and experience that are compatible and competitive in your job area. Additionally, since you will need to explain and defend your moves, make sure they make sense in the first place. A move that is solely triggered by money, boredom or a fight with a supervisor will be difficult to justify later.
- Changing jobs too often can hurt your career.
- Explain the logic of your moves to future employers.
- Seek internal job with the same employer.
- Don't quit too soon or let your employer down.
The writer, a former Business Features Editor at Gulf News, is a freelance journalist based in Salt Lake City, Utah.