How job hopping can help advance your career

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As Millennials and GenZ are rising in the workplace and craving immediate gratification, the days of treating jobs like marriage are almost obsolete. A career expert weighs in on the misconceptions around frequently changing jobs.

Talent Manager, Nicci Legoka, explains that job hopping is a pattern of someone choosing to change companies every one or two years, and does not include people who change jobs due to dismissals or company closures.

“Scholars across the world have defined job hopping as ‘an attitude or behaviour where employees migrate from one job to another, irrespective of better alternatives or other apparently rational motives.’ These motives might be because of social influences, financial pressure or impulsiveness.

There are two types of job hopping. The first type is linked to a craving for new experiences and job-hopping is a means to create these new experiences. The other type is related to a turnover culture, which can be described as a work-group or individuals finding turnover behaviour appropriate and accepting it as a norm.”

For years now, job hopping has held a negative connotation to it. The older generation have argued that staying in a job for less than a couple of years showed disloyalty or a lack of commitment.

“Job-hopping resonates with negative connotations such as disloyalty, indecisiveness, career suicide, less in-depth knowledge or a refusal to settle, etc. This is because it has the potential to damage a person’s career progression. In moderation, job hopping may not automatically disqualify you from a position, but it can get to a point where one has four to seven jobs by the time they are 30 when potential employers are not going to want to invest in you. Most employers in South Africa refrain from interviewing candidates that have short tenures on their CVs,” explains Nicci.

According to a LinkedIn survey, Millennials have been the biggest job hoppers in history. One CareerBuilder survey revealed that employers expect that 45% of their newly hired graduates would remain with the company for less than two years. The study also showed that by age 35, about 25% of young employees would have worked five jobs. “Employers are aware they’re hiring job-hoppers as millennials find their footing in their career development, learning to make healthy choices rather than staying stuck and unmotivated in a job that’s not beneficial for either the employee or employer.”

Although Millennials are reputed to be job hoppers, the truth is that they value job stability. “In my experience working with Millennials, they would choose to stay in a job for the next 10 years if they knew they’d get annual increases and upward career mobility. When looking for a career opportunity, Millennials don’t want to be seen just as a number – a sense of loyalty from their employer is important if employers expect the same in return. Millennials also look for growth potential within a company. They do not want to work in a junior position for more than 1 year. They value companies that offer time off for volunteering or charitable work and also consider flexible working hours and the ability to work from different locations. All these are factors that contribute to job hopping patterns.”

Before you jump on the bandwagon of anti-job hoppers and preach that they are not loyal, or can’t keep a job, consider the benefits of job hoppers.

Get a lot of experience and exposure to different industries: Changing jobs every few years, exposes one to the inner mechanisms of various companies and company cultures. This may help you and your future employers overcome challenges sooner and in ways you would otherwise have never thought of. Staying in the same job for years on end can be harmful to your career, stunting your development, motivation and opportunities for the future. Job hopping provides access to fresh challenges and responsibilities, so your CV will have a more diverse offering.

Personal Progression: People who keep their options open and apply for new roles show ambition and self-belief.

Financial Gain: You could end up earning above the market salary and outdoing an equally matched candidate who has chosen to remain in one place over the same timeframe.

Career Upward Mobility: This is directly related to job advancement, career development and personal satisfaction. It ensures that employees, over a period of time, move to job roles suitable to their skills, goals and aspirations.

Authoritative set of connections – With a powerful and strong network and/or database, you are fully capable of reaching out to various professional people with relevant information quicker and easier.

Though job-hopping does have a lot of benefits, it does also have a few disadvantages, such as:

• You constantly have to prove yourself at a new job
• Your loyalty is questioned – once you have job hopped year after year in consecutively, this raises flags to prospective employers
• You risk destroying relationships
• Your work is likely to be closely monitored
• Endlessly jumping from one company to another can be exhausting, which may result in you losing interest in your career and you may not even notice it until it’s too late.

By Amanda Ndlangisa

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Sihle Bolani

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