Career – To Job-hop Or Not?
Recently started a new job and considering leaving already? Find out if our experts think this is a smart or hazardous move
Nowadays workplace happiness and satisfaction are goals most would rather pursue instead of being tied to a toxic company culture forever. The ever-changing career market has also opened up more contract or working-from-home positions. This is good news for millennials, who are known to thrive on variety and versatility. They love having a few options open to them, and international trends show they also love the idea of several different business interests and jobs at the same time. Having said that, employers are reluctant to invest in someone who displays little loyalty towards the company. According to a US survey done by recruitment site Talentworks, “leaving a job in the first 15 months is like erasing years of experience from your resume while getting fired can cost one nearly five years of experience.” In fact, some HR managers and recruiters would rather hire an older person with a consistent job history than a young job-hopper, even if they have the most mind-blowing work experience. But employment trends aren’t stagnant. “If, for example, an employee stays at a company for less than a year without a good reason, it might be to their disadvantage because recruiters will assume they are high risk,” says Leone Fouche, Media24 HR Manager.
While the findings of the study concluded leaving your job early can impact your future employment, some experts disagree. Candidates hardly get ahead in their careers if they don’t move companies, says Lara Haskins, owner of the recruiting company 360HR. “Often times, it could be a case of there not being enough opportunities in their current company, they’ve reached the ceiling or want to be progressive in their fields by joining companies exposed to the latest technology or international practices,” she adds. The question remains, does job-hopping equal career suicide?
THE EMPLOYER’S PERSPECTIVE
Employers generally think hiring a frequent job changer will be a huge cost for the company. It basically means that the company can forget about investing in your talent because you’re not planning to stick around. “HR’s views are generally quite conservative and risk-averse. This is understandable as they’re usually responsible for the recruitment as well as the talent retention process, and are measured on attraction and retention trends,” Haskins explains.
Losing senior managers means there won’t be transfer of skills, and confidential client and company information may be at risk — which could be detrimental to the company’s productivity and bottom line in the long run. Losing a junior employee is never viewed as a train smash because they are easier to replace. Hopping too often, and for sometimes insensible reasons, can brand you as disloyal. “It sounds unsettling even saying it because it sounds as though we’re saying employees must prioritise the employer’s needs above their own,” says Haskins. She believes it’s better to let your manager know if you are unhappy instead of leaving unexpectedly. “Talk to your manager and try understand their challenges. Ask if they also feel things are not working. Once all these types of discussions have been exhausted and you still feel genuinely miserable, then you can start looking for another job,” Haskins advises. It’s not recommended to resign without a job, and do keep a paper trail of discussions, she adds.
“By age 30, I had changed jobs ten times. I often felt trapped, unhappy and there were no growth plans in place. I was also young and eager to gain more experience in my industry. When I finally applied for the job of my dreams, I was told my job-hopping record had painted me as high risk. HR said the company wasn’t willing to spend time and resources bringing me on board only for me to spend less than two years there,” says Fezile Zulu, a 38-year-old teacher. Fouche says some employers might think twice if the likelihood of that person leaving soon seems high.
“Leaving a job too early may look negative to a prospective employer as they’ll feel you have no ‘staying power’ and are not prepared to give the company and the role a chance,” says Haskins. Your reasons for leaving a previous job need to make sense and be reasonable. Whether you were fired, a victim of the company’s restructuring process, or reached the ceiling,
you must be able to explain your job moves with integrity. “Being fired is tricky, because even where candidates have proven they were unfairly dismissed, potential employers still remain biased. Always be honest, briefly explain why it happened and how it was resolved,” Haskins explains.
Some strongly believe job-hopping presents immeasurable growth opportunities. A 2014 survey conducted by CareerBuilder found 32 percent of employers expected their employees to job-hop and about 55 percent of employers had hired a job-hopper in the past. These numbers suggest job-hopping is fast becoming an easy way to climb the career ladder. Companies, however, could lose out on exceptional candidates with an extensive jobhopping history because they’ve painted them negatively. “I get bored easily and have changed jobs thrice since I started working in my early 20s. Also, changing jobs keeps me motivated and exposes me to new skills which makes me more employable,” says Londeka Kubheka, 28, a software developer. Fouche says with each job change, one is guaranteed to acquire new skills. Ultimately, it boils down to happiness. If waking up for work is a drag, perhaps it’s time to start looking elsewhere.■