I've found that in the working world there's two types of people you'll end up working with - the person who's been at the company since time immemorial, and the person who's only really just arrived but is already looking for the next company to work at. When asked, both will vouch for their own approach to their careers; one will talk about stability and familiarity, while the other will talk about getting more and more opportunities with each move. No doubt that the answer on who's ultimately right will come down to each individual person but it does pose an important question: What are the pros and cons when it comes to job hopping?
Job hopping is neither good nor bad in and of itself. There are many factors that need to be taken into account before the final judgement is passed - does a person deliver a positive impact before they move on, albeit quickly, or do they jump ship as soon as the going gets tough? Can a company truly offer broad enough experience to someone who sticks around for a long time, or is it better for an employee to gain more exposure elsewhere? Does loyalty get fairly rewarded, or is it abused by management? When making the decision to move on to your next job always take into consideration what the implications could be - so that you're prepared to take on whatever new challenges come your way.
Pro: You will see and learn different things
In most cases the highest acceleration in growth and knowledge often comes towards the start of a new job.
There are processes, methodologies, terminologies, systems, hierarchies, and cultures, plus many other things that a company utilises as a way of working to ensure that things are getting done.
As the new employee you are working hard to absorb all of this knowledge that everybody else who has been at the company for some time will have already internalised and gotten familiar with.
To them, it's just turning the crank; to you, it's a whole new puzzle to unravel.
But eventually you'll catch up and then you'll start turning the crank just like the others.
At this point you're probably not growing as much as you were before, since you're not really doing anything new. Even if you do this for a couple more years you're not actually building any real experience.
Now you've got to make a choice - stay comfortable or step out of your comfort zone. For the sake of this point let's say you choose to do the latter.
The thing that startles you is that even though you took on a new role with a company that's not really that different to your old place of work, everything when it comes to processes, methodologies, terminologies, systems, hierarchies and cultures has some slight variance to what you've become accustomed to.
What was once turning the crank has become a bit of a puzzle once more, and the only way for you to unravel it is to grow.
Stay in one place too long and you'll only learn to do things in one way - go to a number of different places and you'll learn various techniques which could boost your knowledge and skill.
Con: Less chances to develop higher level experience
While you may get broad exposure by moving around you might miss out on opportunities at a higher level.
Being able to do a job really well doesn't necessarily translate into being able to do the levels above it really well - because there are often other types of responsibilities involved that you wouldn't typically have a chance to practice.
If you keep leaving a company before you're considered for that promotion then it's hard to build those skills that'll allow you to perform well at the higher level.
Of course, you can try to apply for such roles whenever you're searching for the next job but when (if) you land the job the expectation is that you've already got the skills and knowledge to perform it.
This would be different to working your way up within the current company where it's understood that you're making a transition and that some support or training may be required.
If your intention is to grow your opportunities and career upward by taking on more senior roles then it might be worth considering sticking with a company a bit longer than you usually would, provided you're experiencing the growth you want.
This way, when the promotion finally happens you'll be performing the role within a company that you're already familiar with - it's processes, culture, the people and politics - and there will likely be a little more patience from the management team since they already know you're new to it.
Furthermore, even though you're still in the same company you'll have new responsibilities and probably be performing new tasks. That in itself could potentially make it feel like a completely new job which freshens things up a bit for you.
Pro: You build confidence in your ability to move to the next role
In my career I've met a lot of people who are terrified of losing their job, because it's the job they've been doing for the past X years (pick whatever number you like for X).
Career inertia eventually turns into a prison for a person who grows ever more dependent on it.
Eventually they abandon any thought or ambition of moving on and the primary focus is keeping their life as it is without any drastic changes.
Needless to say, whenever any potential threat emerges that could disrupt the fragile balance it is terrifying for the person involved.
"What if I need to find a new job?"
"Is there another company out there where I could continue to function in cruise control like I have?"
"I'm so used to doing my tasks day in day out that I've neglected to grow my skills or knowledge over the years - are they still relevant at other companies?"
Someone who moves from company to company on a relatively frequent basis wouldn't have the same concerns. In fact, moving onto the next job would just be another normal occasion for them and probably wouldn't cause any stress at all.
To them, they'd have plenty of experience when it comes to passing the interviews and describing the skills they have that could help the company. In addition to that they would've gone through the process of getting settled in at a new role a number of times.
The last time they did so was probably less than 2 years ago.
With such knowledge and familiarity it isn't a surprise that the idea of moving onto the "next challenge" isn't something that's really that frightening for someone who has already taken the leap a couple of times before.
Con: You develop a pattern that others will pick up on
The most obvious drawback of being someone who job hops is how it can look on your CV (resume).
"This person is only going to stick with us for about a year before they move on again. Is it worth it?"
Hiring managers will definitely pick up on the tendency to move on and will place a focus on questioning you about it - if you managed to get past the screening that is.
After all, it costs a company to onboard and train someone and if they think they're going to need to do it for another person not long after you've joined - and then left - then they might as well skip over you and try find that other person.
When you decide to move onto the next job make sure you're doing so under the good graces of they company you're leaving, you want to be able to rely on them for a positive reference after all.
That means you shouldn't leave for random reasons and only really do so after you've done something beneficial for the company.
Perhaps you managed to complete a particular project, or you spent some time improving a certain process that resulted in some clear benefits that can be quantified, or you built something from scratch that added to the company's overall value.
Regardless of what it is, these are things you'll need to be ready to respond with when you start getting interrogated by the interviewer of the next company you're hoping to join.
What you'll need to show is that even though you may stick around for shorter tenures than other people, you still have a big impact and make sure it's worth the company's time and money.
Pro: You won't become overly invested in a company
There are lots of jokes and memes on the internet that poke fun at corporations for lacking the emotional intelligence to really support its employees over the long run.
A large pizza ordered at 9PM in the office on a Friday evening, that the company will pay for, is poor compensation for a team that has been pulling lots of late nights and not seeing their families or getting proper rest for example.
In the name of further productivity while keeping operating costs as low as possible it has become the norm for a company to try and get their employees to work longer and longer hours - often at ever increasing personal sacrifice to the individual.
The worst part of this is that the incentives offered in the company encourage the higher levels to continue their slave-driving antics of those who are less senior; all while offering empty words of encouragement such as "We're all in this together".
Really, they're not.
Yet it's all too easy for employees who want to do a good job to become overly emotionally invested in the company - to their own detriment.
They're somehow captivated by those words of empty encouragement - we've all been there, myself included - and they truly believe that their struggles will be fairly rewarded in the future.
This can ultimately trap the employee into a sunk-cost fallacy situation where they continue to invest their own personal time - while sacrificing their personal health, happiness, and relationships - thinking that giving up now will only mean that all of their previous efforts have gone to waste.
"Just get through this and then I'll make the decision on if it was worth it or not."
Eventually, the company does offer a reward - usually a bonus - and while the employee isn't fully satisfied they've somehow convinced themselves that the next one will be bigger.
The company managed to get what they want, while giving up very little in return.
And then the cycle repeats itself.
But not for someone who's accustomed to moving on. While a person who job hops may still stick around through the difficult parts of a job, just to get to a result, they wouldn't stick around after they got their "compensation".
With this lack of emotional investment into the company they'll be able to break free from the company's manipulation and find themselves another job that benefits them better both financially and mentally.
Con: You don't build as much grit
While a job hopper may stick with a job to get a result - as they need to demonstrate quantified benefits on their CV for their next job interview plus have a reference - it's also true that the most difficult times are when a person is most likely to leave.
This goes for both long-time employees and those who are more mercenary by nature.
When your general attitude to a job is that it's only a temporary thing then there are less barriers to you "jumping ship" when the going gets tough. After all, if you're not super committed to the company and you're just there to serve your own purposes - such as getting paid and then finding the next opportunity - then why go down with the ship?
Now this could be a smart move - you might be the one who went and found a new job while the company continues to struggle or sink and eventually had to let everybody go anyway.
But it also means you won't have the opportunity to build your grit should the company ultimately pull through.
There have been studies by experts who conclude that grit is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, predictor of overall success. Basically a person who's willing to keep persevering on a task despite the struggle and the difficulty will ultimately get through with greater long term benefits.
Generally these benefits come in the form of greater growth, stronger focus and will to get a tough job done, experience in sorting through a mess, and ultimately having a compelling story to tell others - especially in interviews - where they never gave up and stuck with something until it finally got sorted.
Someone who jumped ship wouldn't be able to tell that same story.
Even if they did, there would be gaps in their knowledge when it came to the details of the problem or the solution and it would be difficult to maintain the façade should a hiring manager decide to really probe into things.
Pro: Potentially more money
If you're really working towards financial independence then any work you take on will have money weighing in as a major factor.
Yes, a person may take on lower paying jobs if it comes with other benefits such as a healthier work life balance - but that probably comes towards the later stages of their journey.
In a situation where someone is moving jobs for the purposes of furthering their financial goals the most likely situation is that the new job comes with a bigger pay package.
Potentially much bigger.
Employees who stay with a company for a long time may get accustomed to disappointing compensation. While things at the start are relatively fine, even good, it's only really due to novelty - everyone's experiencing a honeymoon period.
From the perspective of the employee it's a new job with lots of new things to learn, leading to a lot of personal growth. Therefore they're happy with their compensation because in effect they're getting more than just money out of the job.
From the perspective of the company it's also a good situation because the new employee is motivated and putting in the work. Since they're picking up the knowledge of the tasks assigned to them, and increasing their output as they become more familiar with the processes, the company feels that the salary being paid is well spent.
The company may even feel that a pay rise or bonus is well worth it - and so management will happily give a bit extra to keep the employee motivated.
But the honeymoon period cannot last forever and eventually the pace of growth plus the increase in output can no longer continue. There are other factors to show that the employee is still valuable to the company of course, but in reality if you do the same things over and over you're just going to get paid the same over and over.
The pay rises stop coming, or are drastically reduced and far less frequent.
Maybe the annual bonuses are maintained - or made slightly lower - but their only purpose is to avoid a retraining cost of a new employee should the incumbent leave.
Both sides end up in a sort of equilibrium where nobody really wants to give up more without getting more in return - and neither are willing the make the first move.
For a person who's far more willing to move onto the next company this can somewhat be avoided.
Firstly, if they get through the interview process they'll have shown the company that they have the skills and knowledge that is being searched for - so the opportunity is really theirs to lose.
They'll have more negotiating power when it comes to the salary and could easily ask for something that's much higher than what they were previously being paid; within reason of course.
Con: Your work becomes purely about money
When you're moving from role to role in the name of making more money, or earning a similar amount but for less input, then you only develop a single motivator relating to your work and that would be money.
You might think "well no sh*t, why else would you show up to work?" - but hear me out.
While at the start it does indeed make sense to place some - even the majority - of your motivating focus towards your financial health this could eventually change.
You'll keep maturing over time which will introduce changes in your life's priorities.
If you've managed your money well then you'll almost undoubtedly become wealthier. Maybe not to the point where you're financially independent but certain to a point where you're rather comfortable.
As you change in these ways the prospect of only going to work for the money becomes rather dull and even demoralising.
You've become so accustomed to moving on within a short time frame that you haven't really formed many close ties or relationships with your work colleagues.
Sure you might go for a pint of beer or a glass of wine with them every now and again, but that's only while you're still at the company. How many former colleagues would you happily call up to talk about the "good old times"?
The work will start to seem meaningless because you never really bought into the overall vision of the company - the reason why the company exists and how it ultimately improves the world. To you it was always just a pay check.
While you're able to make the changes from the moment you realise your change of attitude towards money, it'll always remain as a gap in your life. Other people will have fond stories of their former companies, how they managed to pull together in camaraderie and eventually formed really strong bonds, while you'll come up short.
Yes, there'll be some fond memories you have but your story will always get cut off while those who stayed behind kept writing theirs together - and that's something money cannot buy back for you.
My first two jobs after graduating from university only lasted about 18 months each, and I was acutely aware of the impression I could potentially give off to future companies that I would interview with.
As a result I decided to make it a goal of mine to stay for at least 5 years - provided I was still growing and developing my career - in my next job.
As I write I'm coming up to 7 years at that company and what a journey it has been. I've met a load of different people as I've worked on the different projects over the years, and there are also a number of names who have rightfully carved a place in my story thanks to their ever-lasting presence.
There's no fixed answer on whether or not job hopping is a good or bad thing - because it really comes down to the different circumstances. But regardless of how long you intend to stay at your current, or next, job it's always important to know the pros and cons of moving on.