Don’t be a job hopper – it’s not nice!
You may have heard of the term “job hopper” which basically refers to someone who constantly changes jobs. It doesn’t have the stigma it once did, but to employers its generally not an attractive attribute. But exactly how long is it acceptable before you move on from a role?
How long should you stay in a job?
In a perfect world you should try to stay in a job for a minimum of two years. It takes employers time and money to recruit and train the right candidate and they don’t want to risk making a poor investment. If you constantly change jobs an employer will question your judgement – why do you keep making the wrong decisions?
Sometimes leaving a job is not your choice
Sometimes you don’t have a choice but to leave an employer after a short period of time, for instance you may have been made redundant, the employer may have moved out of the area, or your job role has changed. Furthermore you may have a horrible boss, or the workplace is stressful, or the job is not as described at the interview. If any of these reasons are true it may be worth explaining to prospective employer in a covering letter with your CV why you need to find another job so quickly.
Assess your CV
Look at your CV, what does your work history look like? In other words, is this the first time or the third time you have been unhappy in a role? If there is a pattern of you staying in a job for only a short period of time maybe you are in the wrong career and perhaps you need to address this. We would say that three jobs in five years is acceptable to most employers, any more than that could put employers off.
Is your job history sketchy?
If you move from career to career you are going to find it really difficult to convince any employer you are going to settle into their job. For instance if you are currently working as a Customer Service Assistant, but before that worked in the accounts sector and before that worked in recruitment then you are going to come across as someone who simply does not know what to do with yourself. This can really put employers off, so be careful on your choice of jobs.
What is normal in your industry?
Some industries view job hopping differently for instance it is more acceptable for people in the advertising or technology sector to move around more frequently. So if you are working in these sectors job hop as much as you like – employers won’t judge you – they will appreciate your varied experience.
Does your CV indicate you are an opportunist?
No one likes opportunists, these are people who are only interested in bettering themselves often to the disadvantage to others. By constantly moving from job to job in order to progress can appear unprofessional to an employer. Many employers view people who have moved around without giving commitment or indeed loyalty to any of their employers as dangerous as they can make people feel unsettled and there is nothing more damaging for a business than an unsettled team of workers.
Are you a youngster?
Employers are generally more forgiving of people who jump from job to job early in their career when they are discovering the right path to settle on. As someone becomes more seasoned in their career prospective employers will expect you to know what is best for you and not expect you to make silly mistakes.
Don’t make yourself look like a job hopper
Sometimes people make themselves look like job hoppers but actually they are not. How is this you might ask? Well by listing everything they have ever done. This includes short term temporary jobs, part-time jobs held in conjunction with full time jobs plus any other jobs they can think of. A good tip is to keep to permanent jobs you have held unless you have done temporary work for a long time and in this instance put down the name of the Agency you have worked for as your employer and brief details of temp jobs you have held, after all it’s the Agency who will provide you with a reference and they are your employer.
Can’t you settle into a job?
Some people really find it hard to settle into a job and there are various reasons for this. The main reason however is because they are in the wrong career. So if you are this person in order for you to settle into the workplace you probably need to re-assess your career. Changing career is a big step but if that’s what it takes for you to be happy and to settle then that’s what you have to do.
What’s good about staying in a job?
If you can bear to stay in a job until you have another position lined up it puts you in a better position. You are more attractive to a potential employer if you are employed – your value drops on the job market if you are unemployed, so perhaps it is worth gritting your teeth and bearing with it if possible.
So to summarise
No matter how badly you want to leave your job or move on to something bigger and better, you don’t want to be branded as a serial job-hopper. When in doubt about the right time to leave, try to stay long enough to at least say you learned a new skill or gained valuable experience, this will help you with any future job search.
Happy job hunting!