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Avoid Hopper Stigma By Jumping Carefully

January 12th, 2011 · 2 Comments

Q.  I’m 25 and start a new job at my fourth agency since graduation.  I spent six months at my first job which was a bad fit, but I stayed at my other two jobs for almost two years each.  One of my co-workers at the last agency said I seriously risk being labeled a job hopper.  Would appreciate your perspective.  -AW

A.  You don’t have to worry–yet.  But I’d recommend that you stay put for more than two years in the new gig.  I’ve written a few related posts over the years, including one earlier this year that cited the fact most workers change jobs seven times in their careers. 

I normally encourage people to try to stay put in their current agencies as long as they see career progression.  But all to often, opportunities elsewhere seem more appealing.  One Culpwrit reader left an agency almost three years ago and started at a different firm, only to decide within a month that she was miserable.  I suggested she swallow some pride and determine if she might be able to return to her still open old job.  She did and remains there today.  Before jumping to a new job, it’s advisable to discuss your concerns with a trusted member of management at your current employer. It’s often better to stay where you are a known entity, thus saving the time it takes to prove yourself at a new employer.  In other words, stay as long as it’s working for you and your career development. 

Anyone contemplating a job switch should be able to affirmatively answer the following five questions before jumping:

  1. Did you remain at least 18 months in your last job? 
  2. Is the new job broader in scope, yet not beyond your stretch capabilities? 
  3. Did you accomplish (and learn) something in your last job?
  4. Will the new job be viewed as true career progression?  I’ve seen a number of people chase fun-sounding jobs that were more tactical than strategic.  It sometimes can be explained, but still becomes a red flag. 
  5. Does the new job permit opportunities for hands-on, measurable accomplishments that aren’t possible with your current employer?

Tags: Q&As

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jesse Davis // Jan 12, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    This is a great post. What do you think about “job hopping” with college students? I’ve worked for 7 different employers during my college career, although some of them were at the same time. Will I look like a job hopper?

  • 2 Culpwrit // Jan 13, 2011 at 6:57 am

    Jesse: College is the best time to accumulate job experiences; shows initiative that impresses future hiring managers. Multiple jobs in college help build your resume, especially if they are related to your career goal.

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