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

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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?


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.■

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