In the past, loyalty and longevity were considered key attributes of a valued employee, with many organizations taking a dim view of those who had jumped from one job to the next.
But in today’s quickly changing economy, the term job hopper is no longer thought of as a career killer, said Trevor Blair, director of executive search and workforce development at Manpower in San Diego.
“Smart employers don’t care if you’ve moved from one job to another as long as your reasons are valid and they are in a positive direction,” he said. “It can be a lot more impressive than someone who has been in the same job for years just plodding along.”
Want to make sure your job trajectory looks like it is on the right track? Here are some things to consider:
Sign of the Times
When you’ve changed jobs can be as important as why, Blair said. If you’re job hopping happened between 2008 and 2014, employers will be sympathetic as they know how difficult it was to get – and keep – a job during the Great Recession.
“It’s not a big deal because everyone was having a hard time,” Blair said.
In addition, the gig economy, where people work as independent contractors on short-term jobs, is also having an impact on employees’ options and employers’ perceptions. Intuit Inc. estimated that by 2020 as many as 7.6 million Americans will be regularly working as independent contractors by 2020, more than doubling the current total of 3.2 million.
“There is a real trickle-down effect from the gig economy to all jobs,” Blair added.
Moving on Up
Switching jobs at a steady clip isn’t a bad thing if you are advancing your career. But if your moves don’t make real career sense, employers will take note.
“If your reasons are all over the map, like moving to a new city or wanting try out a new career in T-shirt design or going back to school on whim, then it looks like you are flighty and aren’t ready to take on a full-time job,” Blair said.
For those who believe that variety is the spice of life when it comes to their careers, it’s also important to target potential employers who embrace change. That means training your sights on tech startups vs. large legacy organizations. While constant employee churn can be costly to companies, Blair said, there are employers who understand that change can be a good thing – if managed correctly.
“Turnover is not necessarily a bad thing and it is, to some extent, unavoidable,” he said. “A lot of employers realize they are better off getting two years out of an A player than seven years out of a B player.”