HomeMoney MakingHow to Job Hop With Intention

How to Job Hop With Intention

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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.

Not long ago, moving quickly from one job to the next was a significant red flag for hiring managers. Employers frowned on applicants whose resumes seemed to signal that they couldn’t stay put.

The professional reasoning was that these professionals were somehow unfocused, unstable, or maybe challenging to work with.

While some employers will always have an unfavorable view of what’s come to be known as job-hopping, it’s increasingly common for people to move from job to job during their working years.

Choosing to be a job-hopper can have its benefits, but there are drawbacks. Ensure you understand what job-hopping is and why you’re doing it before you start hopping around.

What Is Job-Hopping, and Why Do People Do It?

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So, what is considered job-hopping? A job-hopper stays at a job for approximately one to two years. Some job-hoppers are dissatisfied with where a particular job will lead in the future, so they hop to another job with a better career path.

Job-hoppers may also switch because they discover they don’t like the work or aren’t a good cultural fit with the company.

Still, other job-hoppers get bored quickly and want more challenging roles. Once they’ve mastered a job, they can’t imagine staying in the same position for a few more years (or even months), so they switch to something different to keep themselves engaged or challenged.

And then, some job-hoppers want to learn new skills. For example, a designer who moves into a copywriter position may be a more valuable employee because they can work with Photoshop or other design tools and understand the marketing elements of successful advertisements.

Job-hoppers gain more than another entry on their resume. They also gain valuable new skills that employers seek.

1. Communication and Adaptability

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Companies value soft skills, like communication, networking, and general relationship management with colleagues. If you’re job-hopping, you build new relationships with a new team every time you change and learn a new way of doing things. Your resume may not explicitly state “great people skills” or “highly adaptable to changing work environments,” but you most certainly do have those skills.

These are examples of soft skills employers want employees to have, regardless of their hard skills. The trick is to make those transferable skills stand out by explaining how the company will benefit from your experiences.

2. Increased Salary

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Sometimes, job-hopping can be the most effective way to increase your salary. A recent study by the Pew Research Center shares that 60% of professionals who changed jobs reported a salary increase.

It’s not simply the average pay increase that’s inviting, either. Most workers surveyed reported a cost-of-living raise averaging 2.1% from their current employer. On the other hand, workers changing jobs report a nearly 10% increase in their current earnings, making job-hopping a potentially lucrative career move.

3. Diverse Skill Set

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When you job-hop, you combine multiple skill sets across fields into one flexible, unique-to-you career. For instance, you can create a future that utilizes your background in coding, fundraising, and bookkeeping all at the same time.

As the world of work changes, many career fields are looking for “full-stack” employees who can handle every step of a process from start to finish.

In that regard, job-hopping with intention benefits both you and your future employers. Accumulating experiences from different industries and roles, you become a well-rounded candidate who can bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to any company.

4. Career Advancement

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Another benefit of job-hopping is the potential for career advancement. By exploring different roles and companies, you can gain valuable experience and knowledge to help you climb the ladder in your desired field.

But it’s not just about moving up linearly. Job-hopping allows you to explore new opportunities, take on challenging projects, and learn from different perspectives. You’ll likely discover personal and professional growth, making you a valuable asset to any organization.

The Drawbacks and Cons of Job-Hopping

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While you may gain new skills or a higher salary, remember what you might lose when you’re a frequent job-hopper.

1. Fringe Benefits

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When you job-hop, you always have to “start over.” That could mean you have less vacation time or that you’re changing insurance plans and switching doctors every few years.

You likely also lose some retirement income. Even if you have immediate access to a 401(k) or other savings vehicle, if you job-hop, you may need to be there longer to have an employer match contributions to your account.

If you hop too soon, your employer contributions may not vest, meaning you’ll lose the employer contributions when you leave.

2. The Stigma

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While some employers are changing their view on job-hoppers, many are not. Frequent job-hopping is still a red flag to employers who may worry about your loyalty or that you only stick around long enough to learn what you want and then leave, which is expensive for them.

This could hurt your chances of getting a job in the future, especially if you’re competing with candidates who have longer tenure at their previous jobs.

In addition to potential concerns about loyalty and commitment, job-hopping may lead some employers to question your reliability and ability to adapt to new environments quickly.

They may be concerned you won’t stick around long enough to see projects through to completion or that you may struggle to integrate into their company culture. As a result, it’s important to carefully consider the potential consequences of job-hopping before making any quick decisions.

3. Inconsistent Experience

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Job-hopping can lead to a lack of consistent experience. It may be less crucial if you’re in the same field, but even then, each company has its own way of doing things. You may have to relearn processes and procedures every time you switch jobs.

Additionally, frequent job-hopping can make it difficult to advance your career. Employers often prefer candidates with a history of growth and progression. If you constantly change careers, showing long-term commitment and development in one specific role may be more complicated.

4. Job-Hopping Syndrome

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Job-hopping syndrome is not a disease. It is, however, a condition that job-hoppers need to keep in mind. When you have job-hopping syndrome, you switch jobs multiple times for various reasons (or the same reason every time) and are never happy with where you land.

This often happens when you job-hop without intention.

You get so excited about a bigger salary, a better job title, or different challenges that you don’t stop to figure out if the switch is right for you. Then, you get to the job and realize this wasn’t the best hop after a few months, so you repeat the process and make the same mistakes.

How to Job-Hop the Right Way

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Regardless of how long you’ve been with your current employer, if you’re thinking about changing jobs, you should take time to assess why you’re making the change. Don’t hop quickly into a new role because you’re bored with your current role.

Ensure you’re also moving toward your long-term career goals, or that this new role offers some substantial perks that your current one doesn’t.

Think about it this way. If something unexpected happened in two months and you were looking for work again, could you easily explain your motivation for the change? If not, it might be time to reassess why you’re considering making a move.

Analyze how this move fits in with your long-term career development plan. That way, you can ensure you’re motivated beyond trying to escape a day-to-day annoyance in your current role. Realistically, there’s a good chance you’ll run into another annoyance in your next role.

With some self-reflection, you might realize that you simply need to work through the issue.

On the other hand, you might be looking to gain new skills, stretch into more responsibility, or gain a better work-life balance. In that case, making the move is likely a great choice.

How to Explain Job-Hopping in a Job Interview or Application

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Once you’ve decided that you’re ready to take on a new job, it’s time to plan how you’re going to address job-hopping in future job searches.

1. Have a Rationale

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You’ll need logical reasons why you left each position. Were you presented with a great opportunity that you couldn’t pass up? Offered more money? Given a chance to relocate to a new part of the country or the world?

FlexJobs’ career experts advise, “For any instance where you left a job after only a year or two, you should have an explanation of the situation that will put a nervous potential employer’s mind at ease.

Don’t focus on things like the job or employer was terrible. Instead, talk about how a new opportunity became available that you couldn’t ignore or wanted to expand your skills in a certain area.”

2. Be Truthful on Your Resume

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Leaving unexplained gaps or a fuzzy employment timeline on your resume can be a risky move, not to mention dishonest. Employers will likely move you to the bottom of the job applicant pile if your resume seems “off.”

The last thing HR wants is extra work to figure out what kind of jobs you’ve held, with whom, and when. Be clear, concise, and honest while highlighting your diverse skill set.

3. Focus on Career Growth and Skills

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One of the best secrets to success in a job search is focusing on what you do have, rather than what you’re missing. In this case, you might have a short work history with one employer, but you’ve gained an excellent skill set.

Emphasize the skills and experience you’re bringing to the table, highlighting examples of how these skills have helped you grow professionally. Talk about your adaptability, willingness to learn and take on new challenges, and how your diverse background has made you a well-rounded candidate for the job.

Continue to build upon this theme in your interviews and cover letters by discussing specific examples of when taking risks or trying something new in your career has led to growth and development.

This approach shows employers that you are unafraid of change and constantly seek improvement.

4. Use Positive Framing

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When discussing challenges or setbacks in your career, always try to frame them in a positive light. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects, highlight what you learned from the experience and how it has made you a stronger and more resilient professional.

For example, instead of saying, “I was let go from my previous job,” say, “I faced unexpected changes at my previous job, which allowed me to develop new skills and become more adaptable in my career.”

By reframing the situation, you show employers that you have a positive outlook and can turn challenges into opportunities for growth.

It might sound like semantics, but it speaks to your ability to rebound and work through challenges.

5. Highlight Commitment

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Employers want to see that you are dedicated and committed to your career. Demonstrate your commitment by highlighting any long-term projects or initiatives you have taken on and discussing your loyalty to previous employers.

Additionally, mention any professional development courses or certifications you have completed to show your commitment to continuous learning and growth in your field.

Employers might be concerned that you won’t commit to your role and will look to leave again soon. It would help if you communicated how this job is the ideal fit for your career progression.

6. Showcase Adaptability

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The business world constantly evolves, and employers value individuals who adapt to change and new situations. Highlight the times you quickly adjusted to a new task or project or took on additional responsibilities outside of your job description.

Employers want to see that you are versatile and can easily handle different challenges and tasks. Emphasize your ability to adapt and thrive in a fast-paced and constantly changing environment.

Show that you can handle the current functions and have the potential to grow and take on new responsibilities in the future.

7. Be Proactive in Addressing Concerns

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When you recognize the employer is concerned about a specific aspect of your history, like a gap in employment or lack of relevant experience, take the initiative to address it proactively. Show that you are aware of their concerns and explain how you have taken steps to improve or overcome them.

For example, if you took a break from your career to travel, mention how this experience has enhanced your adaptability and global perspective. If you need more specific technical skills, highlight the steps you have taken to acquire these skills through training or certifications.

By addressing concerns head-on, you demonstrate your willingness to learn and grow, making yourself a more attractive candidate.

8. Have Positive Feedback From Employers Ready

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Employers want to know that you were successful in your previous roles and that your colleagues and superiors had a positive experience working with you. Have references or testimonials from past employers ready to share.

You should think outside the box to include performance evaluations, letters of recommendation, or even endorsements on professional networking sites.

When choosing which feedback to showcase, select ones that highlight your strengths and align with the qualifications for the job you are applying for. Provide concrete evidence of your abilities and reinforce the positive tone you have established throughout your application.

9. Convey Your Fit

Young female candidate laughing at job interview
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In addition to your skills and qualifications, employers are also looking for candidates who fit the company culture. Research the company’s values and work environment and incorporate these into your application.

You can do this by mentioning specific examples of how your values align with the company’s values or by showcasing experiences demonstrating your ability to work well in a team or adapt to changing environments.

By conveying your fit with the company, you show that you are qualified for the job and a good match for the organization and team dynamics.

10. Be Prepared for Follow-Up Questions

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When submitting your job application, prepare for potential follow-up questions from the employer. Questions can range from scheduling an interview to asking for more information about your qualifications.

Always check your email and phone regularly and respond promptly and professionally to any inquiries. Quick responses show your enthusiasm and commitment to the job and can make a positive impression on the employer.

Remember to maintain the same optimistic and motivational tone in all communication, and use it as an opportunity to further showcase your qualifications and fit for the role.

Evaluate Your Job-Hopping

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If you’ve moved a few times, ensure you analyze whether or not job-hopping is still benefiting you. Evaluate the potential gains and losses before you take another job and review your resume once or twice a year to see if job-hopping is still the right path.

When Job-Hopping Works

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You’ll know job-hopping is working when you still love what you do. It may not be the same job or career you had five or 10 years ago, but you love and are engaged with it.

More importantly, you loved your previous employment and only left because the next job offered skills or benefits you couldn’t get with the old job.

Job-hopping also works when you’ve stayed at your jobs for over six months or, at least, didn’t leave because you felt dissatisfied. A healthy perspective on your current and previous roles indicates that you love what you’re doing and don’t run at the first sign of trouble.

Lastly, job-hopping works for you when you identify the new skills you’ve gained and you can explain how they’ve benefited you professionally. Even better, you can point to a skill from a previous job and explain how it helped you get the next job.

Your resume shows forward movement, even if that’s not a straight line from the mailroom to the boardroom.

When Job-Hopping Isn’t Working

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When you don’t job-hop with intention, your work history will show it. You don’t gain many skills, and your resume won’t show you moving forward in your career. Your resume should tell a cohesive story about your career.

Job-hopping from industry to industry is OK, but it would help if you had solid reasons for changing and how it benefits you professionally. If you can’t tell that story, your job-hopping isn’t working.

Furthermore, job-hopping no longer benefits you if you notice that there isn’t forward momentum in your career, and you end up in the same position with the same responsibilities over and over.

If you keep thinking the next job will be better, only to discover you’re just as unhappy, or the only reason you keep job-hopping is because you dislike the work, those are clear indicators that job-hopping isn’t the right choice.

Finally, you’re no longer job-hopping when you leave multiple jobs before the six-month mark. You’re quitting. And that’s a clear sign that job-hopping isn’t working for you.

Frequently Asked Questions About Job-Hopping

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As you explore changing jobs again, you likely have some of the same questions about job-hopping that many professionals have. Take a look at a few considerations and explore the areas where you need to dig a bit deeper.

1. Is job-hopping bad?

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Job-hopping can be seen as a negative if it is not done with intention and does not contribute to your professional growth. It may also raise red flags for potential employers who question your commitment and loyalty.

However, job-hopping can also be beneficial if you are intentional about gaining new skills and experiences and can explain how each move has contributed to your career progression.

2. Do employers care if you job-hop?

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Employers may care if you job-hop frequently without an apparent reason or goal. They may view it as a lack of commitment and dedication, which can raise concerns about your reliability and work ethic. However, if you can communicate how each job change has positively impacted your skills and career growth, employers may see it as a valuable asset.

3. Does job-hopping lead to a salary increase?

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Job-hopping often leads to a salary increase, but it’s not a guarantee. Many factors contribute to your market value. For the best chance of higher pay, ensure you focus on building in-demand skills that make you an attractive candidate to future employers.

4. Is job-hopping a red flag?

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Job-hopping can be a red flag for some employers, who may see it as lacking commitment and stability. However, if you can reframe your history to showcase your adaptability and desire to learn new skills, you can often change their perspective. It’s important to have a clear intention behind each job change and articulate how it has helped you progress in your career.

Job-Hoppers Chart Their Own Path

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Job-hopping with intention is just that: intentional. It takes career planning, self-evaluation, and careful choices. Now that you understand the job-hopper meaning, take some time to create a pros and cons list, and then choose the best path for you.

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