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The Pros and Cons of Job Hopping

Out of everyone in my group of college friends, I was the only one who still had the same job two years after graduation. Everyone else had changed jobs once, twice, even three times. So, I felt somewhat smug—as if I knew something they didn’t. It wasn’t until many years later that I understood the positive side of job hopping. It hit me when I suddenly discovered that I had forced myself to stay in a job I hated for five years. If only I had just left at the very beginning when I realized it wasn’t for me…maybe I wouldn’t have wasted all that time being miserable…

Of course, job hopping also involves a few pretty serious downsides. In order to make the best decisions in your career, it’s helpful to understand both the positive and negative aspects of bouncing around from one job to the next, and how it can impact your long-term goals.


Clearly, no one expects you to know exactly what you want from your career the minute you graduate from college. But, as you gain experience, you should become more astutely aware of what your idea of “the right” job looks like. If you find yourself stuck, feeling like nothing will ever make you happy, it’s time to do some self-reflection. If you need help, download my free mini-workbook which walks you through a process to determine what’s working (and what’s not) in your current career so you can begin pinpointing the things that may provide (or detract from) career fulfillment the future.  Once you know more about yourself, you can be more discerning in the job search process.

Proactively searching for a job that matches your unique career wants and needs should help prevent job hopping, but there’s no guarantee. Sometimes, the only way to really learn what works for you and what doesn’t is to simply step in there and give it a try. I always recommend that, unless things are really unbearable, it’s a good idea to stick with a new job for at least a year. This gives you enough time to really get a feel for it and make an informed decision.


Most of us enjoy routine…up to a point. Then, it becomes monotonous. Job hopping certainly provides variety. You end up learning about many different businesses and industries; you gain a variety of skills and meet a wide range of people. This is what many job hoppers crave when they bounce around. They just want to escape the boring everyday routine. Be cautious of this! While it’s nice to experience new things, most jobs will have some degree of monotony. When you’re being paid, it won’t always be exciting and new.

Shallow Experience

If you’re a job hopper, or if you end up being one, you can always frame your scattered experience as being a good thing: you have a wide range of capabilities and broad point-of-view. However, in reality, your experience in each area is rather shallow. If you only stay somewhere for a short period of time, you’re not getting a deep understanding of what’s going on. That usually takes several years to accomplish and prospective employers may be concerned about your skill level.

Lack of Loyalty

Inevitably, once you’ve job hopped a few times in a row, employers will start seeing it as a red flag. They’ll wonder about your loyalty. They’ll worry that it’s not worth the time, money and energy needed to train you because, in a year or so, you’ll be gone. This can be a hard stigma to shake so you better have some strong justification for why you left each position and proactively address it in your cover letter. Don’t try to ignore it and hope they won’t notice.

You Don’t Know What You Want (‘Till It’s Gone!)

The other thing prospective employers will assume is that you don’t really know what you want. When you tell them why you’d be perfect for the job and why it’s a position you’ll be thrilled to have, they’ll doubt your motives. Your past doesn’t indicate that you really know what will please you. Again, with a little clever maneuvering, you can frame it in such a way that your past actually proves that you know exactly what you want—and DON’T want.

But, ultimately, many job hoppers end up regretting their decisions. They fall into the “grass is always greener” syndrome. Once they’ve moved on and fallen into another monotonous routine somewhere else, they realize that the last job wasn’t so bad after all.

If you ever find yourself labeled as a “serial job hopper,” take some time to evaluate why it’s happening and how it’s affecting your long-term career objectives. Create strategies to overcome this issue so you can settle into a job that feels right and keeps your interest. Working with a career coach or participating in a group coaching program may also be helpful.

Photo Credit: stuant63 (Flickr)

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4 Responses to “The Pros and Cons of Job Hopping”

  1. Heidi says:

    Excellent post Chrissy! I’ve been a chronic job-hopper most of my adult life… though it doesn’t really look like it on my resume. I’ve been lucky in that I found an amazing job that paid really well, but wasn’t full time. So whenever I got the bug to do something else, I would go job hunting, find a new job to try out, realize I didn’t like it so much, and was able to stay with the other job. (In essence, it LOOKED like I worked for a single employer for 7 years, despite the little “sabbaticals” that I would take every once in a while.)

    I did hit a point where I decided I needed a major change, and left my job for good. I was gone for about two years, before finally realizing what a HUGE mistake it was to leave that job :( Turns out I’m also incredibly fortunate in that I was able to return to the job I left, and I’m still being paid really well – well enough to not have to work full time, which gives me time to work on my “side hustle” 😀

  2. Though I agree that job hopping will gain you more experience and enhance your expertise, as an HR Specialist, we still look for a person who has tenure in his post. This will give the impression that the applicant has all the right work attitude which allows him to stay long in a company. If I see a resume with 6 employments in a couple of years, it makes me ask, what hinders the applicant from staying. Is it the company or is it the person himself.

    So always think twice.

    Natalie Loopbaanadvies

  3. […] mini-workbook How Nourishing is YOUR Career?. Thanks for visiting.I’ve written in the past about the pros and cons of job hopping. Yes, it’s true; you can spin it any way you want. But let’s be real: job hopping is no fun. […]

  4. Giselle says:

    Great post, Chrissy!

    I have had many issues with job hopping on my resume because for 10 years, I had a steady seasonal (April-October) job at a travel company that I loved and excelled in but was let go. So ‘Seasonal Travel Agent’ is on my resume for that time. But during the off seasons, I worked seasonal retail jobs, temped for several agencies (signed up for four to get the hours needed to pay bills) and did contract work.

    Hiring managers I have met CANNOT get past the fact that in ten years, I’ve had more than 15 employers. In fact, outside the hospitality industry, “seasonal” seems to be confusing to hiring managers. So so frustrating…

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