The Pros and Cons of Job-Hopping and How It Affects Your Career

The Pros and Cons of Job-Hopping and How It Affects Your Career
Jobstreet content teamupdated on 21 October, 2022

Have you seen a resume that lists multiple roles in different companies within a year or two? Or how do you feel about people jumping from one job to another in just a few months? Maybe you’re considering being one of them, hoping to land a better opportunity than your present holds. Before you make that big move, you should first learn the pros and cons of job-hopping.

Anyone looking to #SEEKBetter knows the stigma attached to job-hoppers. Many companies consider them bad hires – unreliable, untrustworthy, lazy, selfish, and just overall difficult. The resumes of candidates with too much movement have always received less priority. But despite these downsides, many still choose to hop around and make it seem like the right career path to take. So, is job-hopping bad? Read on for an answer and some ways to help you decide.

Who Is a Job-Hopper?

You are a job-hopper if you “hop” or jump from one job position to another within a short time instead of staying for a longer period. Though many employees make such moves within their careers, job-hoppers do so more frequently. Sometimes, it happens within a matter of months, while some companies still consider you a job-hopper if you don’t stay for one to two years. You are also a job-hopper if you already accepted an offer but still chose to take another within the same week.

Another factor that defines job-hopping is its cause. Job-hoppers jump as a result of their own determination. The movement does not stem from restructuring, redundancy, or dismissals within a company. Sometimes they look for new challenges to excite their careers – something their present post can’t provide. Or sometimes they’re simply bored, so they hop off.

A job-hopper is always on the lookout for a new opportunity and will choose to jump at it at the first opportunity. Eventually, the short stints form a pattern evident in a resume. A job-hopper takes on a role, decides it’s not the right fit, looks for a new job, and then restarts the process.

Is Job-Hopping the New Normal?

If job-hopping is really damaging to a career, why are there many jobseekers seemingly successful at it? And if the movement is intrinsically unethical, why are companies still accepting job-hoppers? Years ago, such were the accepted philosophies. But as the job market grows, perceptions are also pivoting.

For many employers, back then, job-hopping was a major no-no. It pointed to an employee’s loyalty or the lack thereof. It meant they were disengaged, careless, and barely cared for the company’s welfare. This sort of ideology was passed on to employees, urging them to stay with the same company for years – sometimes even throughout their careers.

But employees, especially among millennials and Gen Zers, eventually took on a different perspective and started prioritising their needs. They have taken the risk of jumping around, finding the opportunity that can make a better positive impact on their future. Is the movement worth it? Rightfully so, as companies are already altering their perceptions about job-hoppers and even changing their hiring and retention programs along the way. Though some employers are still reluctant, many job-hoppers are finding success despite still carrying the negative branding from yesteryears.

But this is not to say that job-hoppers can not commit. On the contrary, many are still dedicated to their roles, especially if their needs are met by the employer. Permanence is no longer just a measure of loyalty. Rather, it is a result of proactive decision-making by the employee and the employer.

Take the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, for example. A study showed that 55% of Malaysian respondents remain loyal to their employers and look to stay in the long run. This is not just a matter of loyalty. It stems from the companies’ response to the health crisis and the support extended to their teams.

The study also offers a glimpse into how Malaysian companies can continue to engage their employees. The top three initiatives workers want to see more from their employees are:

  • Allowance for remote working
  • Support programmes to improve their skills or to adapt to the new work environment and job market
  • Financial assistance programmes for workers who must spend more of their income on childcare and other family obligations.

Why Employees Job-Hop

In fact, many employees job-hop not out of whim. They don’t hop around for random reasons. Malaysian Business Associations (FMBA), MTUC acting president Mohd Effendy Abdul Ghani comments that “unprofessional management, discrimination, low wages, internal politics, and lack of leave opportunities” are some of the reasons employees leave. He highlights that job satisfaction remains to be a major cause of job-hopping.

But on the other side of the spectrum, some job-hoppers consider the movement as necessary for career advancement. You can even think of it as a calculable career strategy, where you gain many skills along the way until you find your dream job and settle in it. Gaining enough experience at different companies will also help you adapt to various organisational cultures. Eventually, you can bring the good parts of those systems with you and offer them to prospects.

Another plus of job-hopping is the pay raise. It is a considerable percentage that can be higher than the annual increase expected from your current company. This might be a big perk, but it shouldn’t be your only deciding factor. Consider also if the move will help you expand your network or maybe even help you gain a much-desired mentor.

The Pros and Cons of Job-Hopping

There are many other perks if you choose to job-hop. Here are some of them:

  1. Career growth: Career movements often mean career advancement. You’re likely moving to another company because it’s a higher-level role than your present one. Sounds like a better plan than waiting for a promotion?
  2. Increased benefits: Changing roles means changing benefits, including salary and allowances. And more often than not, these changes are increasingly favourable to the job-hopper.
  3. Expanded skill set: It’s impossible for you not to gain new skills at every new job. So just imagine the skill set of a job-hopper who’s gone through numerous jumps in recent years.
  4. A new organisation: Entering a new company is promising because it gives you the chance to adapt to a new culture. Imagine this as a fresh start – it might just be the boost your career needs.

But there are also several downsides to job-hopping. Consider these before making a move:

  1. Uncertain employment: In an erratic economy, it may become challenging to find employment, despite what you bring to the table. Plus, there are still companies that misjudge job-hoppers. They may decline to start the recruitment process with you.
  2. Hampered benefits: Even if you are offered a promising list of benefits, you might not get their full value if you only stay at a company for a limited time. You might not have the same number of leave, insurance value, or bonus as others.
  3. Thin skill set: You may have an expansive set of skills, but upon further scrutiny, they may be at shallow levels only. A job-hopper can also be a jack of many trades but a master of none.
  4. Additional stress: The uncertainties may cause a job-hopper undue stress. A secure job promises stability not only financially but also mentally. Job-hopping requires frequent decision-making, which can wear you down.

How to Explain Job-Hopping During Recruitment

Expect that you will be asked repeatedly about your job-hopping. This is no different when a jobseeker is questioned about career gaps. Instead of masking the truth, lead your hirer to a more positive view of job-hopping. Follow these tips to help you answer challenging queries:

  • Optimise your resume to highlight skills and achievements instead of your recent roles. Focus on your unique characteristics instead of the chronological order of positions you held.
  • Stay honest throughout the recruitment process, especially during interviews. You never know if your interviewer already considers job-hopping a red flag, and you might double the offence if you give untruthful answers.
  • Highlight the values learned while job-hopping, including persistence, hard work, and determination. Present yourself as a goal-getter who proactively works to achieve things.
  • Feature your development. Lay out your cards at the table and make sure your hirer knows the unique components you can offer. Don’t shy away from sharing all the lessons learned in other organisations.
  • Have a rationale. Hold on to this especially if you’re asked why you’ve been job-hopping. Highlight the reasons that can also benefit the company.

Job-hopping works if it helps advance your career and grow your professional life. It might even lead you to your dream job that will make you stay for a longer period. Make sure you pin down a justifiable reason for your movement – it shouldn’t be money, power, or prestige. Weigh if your choices align with the future you envision, then review the pros and cons of job-hopping. From there, you can make a better decision on how high you should jump.

Thinking of hopping into a new role? #SEEKBetter jobs by updating your JobStreet profile with your unique skill set. Learn more about your target job by exploring careers. You can also check out more opportunities for improvement via the Career Tools page.

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