This advice may go against everything your were taught about how your career was supposed to progress. We were taught that when you graduated high school, you went to college. You got a good job at a great company and you worked your way up through the company into senior management. After 40 or so years, you retired.
That was true, at least for our parents. However, some of us are still of that same mindset. We may work with people who have been with the company for 10, 20, 30 years and never plan to leave. They are from the generation where people were proud of their tenure, especially if they work for a great company. These individuals are quickly becoming the minority.
The New Generation
Over the past 10-15 years there has been a shift in the idea of lifelong employment. More people are working for multiple companies throughout their careers. On average, you will change careers 5-6 times during your life.
According to an article by Glassdoor.com, recruiters are comfortable overlooking job hopping, especially early in your career. Their main criteria is that you have a good reason for the job changes and are able to articulate them.
It is not unusual for you to go through a rough patch in your career. Situations out of your control like layoffs, family emergencies, etc. are easy to explain and will usually be understood.
However, the case for intentional job hopping is a hard one to make, but I think it has benefits that are being overlooked.
First, I want to be clear about what I mean by job hopping. I am talking about someone changing jobs every 2 to 3 years and leaves the company on good terms. If you change companies more frequently than that, you will not get benefits and it will tarnish your resume.
Every job candidate is going to have to explain why they moved from one job to the next. If your job move does not make sense, you will loose credibility. Each of your moves should serve your career growth and you need to be able to explain how during an interview.
Also, we have to think about things like vesting periods. This is the time you have to remain at a company before the 401K match becomes yours to keep. That’s right, if you leave before your 401K or retirement matches vest, the company will keep them.
This vesting period is usually 2 to 3 years, but I have seen it as high as 5. You need to know what this time requirement is before leaving. The same consideration needs to be made for student loan reimbursements made by your company. Those usually come with a requirement to work for the company for so many years after your last payout.
Lastly, the assumption is that you are changing to jobs that require similar skill sets even if it is in a different industry. For example, going from being a nurse to an accountant to a history teacher are not relevant job changes.
So Many Skills, So Little Time
One of the biggest benefits of changing jobs are the new skills you acquire. Even if you are in the same function at the new company, you may do things differently or use different systems. The learning becomes even more valuable if you work with more experienced people or a better manager.
According to an article by Payscale.com, these new skills make you even more valuable in the job market. The act of learning these new skills also increases the speed at which you adapt to new situations and challenges. You are encouraging your brain to constantly learn new things making you sharper.
The learning process does not just apply to job skills. Getting a chance to learn about the industry from the perspective of multiple companies gives you a deeper understanding as a whole. This broadened knowledge makes you more valuable to your employers.
When you spend time in multiple companies, you are constantly growing your network with every job change. As you deepen your network you begin to know the best employees in your industry. These connections will help you find your next position when it is time to leave the current company. Referrals are always favored over other applicants when managers are looking to fill roles.
If you have tried to get a better position within your company, you know how difficult it is. In many cases you may have to wait for the person senior to you to leave to have the option to get a promotion. However, even that is not guaranteed.
When you look for promotion outside of your company, there are numerous options available to you. If you have been expanding your skills throughout your job hopping career, even more opportunities will be open to you. Your broadened knowledge makes you a stronger candidate for jobs more senior to your current role.
This is evident when you look at the work experience of Executives and Senior Managers in large companies. Many of them have worked at multiple companies and used those moves to climb the corporate ladder. Ironically, it is uncommon for a CEO to have worked for the same company for more than 3 years.
Show Me The Money
I saved this benefit for last because I don’t think it alone should be your reason for changing jobs. However, the fastest way to increase your salary is to get a job with a different company, at the same or higher level. You can usually expect a raise of 10-12%, maybe more, if you take a position outside of the company. If you get a new position within the same company, the increase in salary will most likely be modest, maybe even non-existent.
Promotions within your company are not compensated as highly as external moves. They are considered less risky for you and HR does not feel the need to offer you as much as an external hire. If a manager hires a new person from outside the company, that candidate is taking a risk with the loss of their tenure and goodwill. The additional compensation is to help make up for this loss.
This should be your expectation when changing jobs. You will have to start over building relationships, proving yourself, learning the culture. You are moving into a situation where change is constant and the more flexible you are the more successful you’ll be.
To Recap, job hopping can be a positive thing in the following ways:
You broaden and deepen your skill set.
The networking opportunities are hard to replicate.
The first two benefits will leave to additional promotion opportunities.
More promotions means more money, and most likely larger increases.
Just remember that these job changes need to be executed with care so your reputation is not damaged. If done correctly, your career will benefit in many ways.
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