Appearently I’m a Job Hopper

I nearly fell out of my chair the other day when I was reading this article that suggested that a person should keep a job on average of five years to avoid looking like a job hopper which could reduce your chances of getting hired.  Pardon?  So in my ten year career I should have only had two jobs! Guess what I’ve had seven different jobs in that time frame and it has NEVER been mentioned in a single interview that it was a problem.  Heck with my last two jobs I only applied for one job and got it both times.

If you have read this blog for a while you would have noticed I have a thing against most rules of thumb as they can more often than not get you into hot water.  In this case I would a point out a few things the come into play when looking at a career history like:

  1. Job Progression – Ok, so you had three jobs at one company in a two year period.  Yet if you were promoted into each job isn’t that good thing to demonstrate your employer liked you enough to promote you frequently?  I’ve been in a situation twice where I was promoted after six months.
  2. Career Development – Is there an established pattern of increasing responsibility and educational improvement?  If so, you are likely going to be given some slack on taking on new challenges and developing yourself as long as you don’t do it like every four months.
  3. Geographic Considerations – Did you move to take a job?  I think most people are willing to consider that wanting to move out a crappy location to a better one is a reasonable choice for a family.

Yet at the same time I do appreciate that frequent job changes (like under a year) can look bad on a resume if you aren’t careful.  In my mind I would be willing to discuss a isolated case of job hopping, but if you look like to change jobs every six months for the last four years.  That would be setting off alarm bells and impacting your hiring prospects.

So how about you?  How many jobs have you had over your career?  Please also include the length of your career.  I’m curious how many people would actually be within the 1 job per five year ‘rule’.

7 thoughts on “Appearently I’m a Job Hopper”

  1. 4 jobs in 6 years here. The first one straight out of university only lasted 4 months before I called out of the junior ranks into a working level position.

    After 2 years of working in the middle of nowhere, I took my 3rd job at the same level in a more populated area where there are restaurants and movie theatres, etc.

    And most recently I’ve moved into management. So although it has been 4 jobs in 6 years, they all fit the criteria that you mention above.

    In many fields staying 5 years in one job makes you a dinosaur.

  2. When I’m on the hiring end, it depends on whether we’re really looking for a long-time candidate or just somebody to fill a position quickly. That often depends on what level we’re hiring at (lower level folks are given a lot more slack for job-hopping).

    Increasing responsibility & skills are positives regardless of job-hopping. Decreasing responsibility & skills with a record of job-hopping would not pass muster, so not likely to even get an interview unless the skills were still so high that they override any concerns.

    Typically, though, in my book, if a candidate looks just to be job-hopping, then they won’t get an interview. No set number of jobs within a time period trips this concern, it’s more of a gut feeling from reading between the lines.

  3. One employer, two sites, and four jobs, all in four years. My job title hasn’t changed, but my work setting has. And this would have read exactly the same if I wrote it this time last year (except of course, three years).

    My jobs were all temporary up to this point though – so my “job hopping” was completely out of my control.

  4. You’ll see a lot more long term positions held going forward as the economy has really thinned out the opportunities out there. Four or so years ago, you could have a different job over night as the economy was just booming along. Now it’s an employers market, most are staying put right now, and possibly for years to come.

  5. I don’t think I’m typical, I had 2 jobs in my 22-year career. At each of my employers, though, I held different titles as my experience grew, but I wouldn’t consider those to be different jobs, just different positions at the same job. Semantics maybe, but I don’t think a person with three progressive positions at a company for 18 years would ever be viewed as a job hopper.

  6. Mmm, interesting. Thanks for the feedback everyone.

    @ Retired Syd,

    Ugh, I can’t even imagine that, but it’s partly how I approach things. I look for that next thing all the time because I want to grow. I might stay with my current company for a while and just change jobs within it.

    @Kat,

    Ouch, that’s gotta be tough to take. Good luck.

    Tim

  7. Late to the party, but here goes:

    My read on that article was that they consider a “job” to be a term of working for one employer. Your first example of three jobs at one company via promotions would actually be considered one “job”, I think. Certainly there is no disloyalty implied by this situation.

    For myself: 10 years out of university, and I have had two employers in that time. The first was only 11 months, but I’ve been at my current job for 8.5 years now. It’s a small company so I’ve had only a few minor changes in job title, but a clear increase in responsibility and duties. Of course, I love working here and have no interest in switching jobs!

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