Weigh the pros and cons of job-hopping to ensure you're always making a smart transition.
The concept of job-hopping—staying at a company for just one to two years before switching to the next—is a much-discussed topic. And people have a lot of opinions about it.
Many people believe that being labeled a job-hopper is a red flag to future employers. I’ve even heard that a pattern of job-hopping can ruin your career. Conversely, I’ve also heard many benefits of switching jobs.
And honestly? There’s truth in both arguments. To help you decide whether or not job-hopping is right for you, let’s analyze the pros and cons:
THE PROS OF JOB HOPPING IN YOUR CAREER
1. JOB SATISFACTION
One of the main benefits of switching jobs is finding one where you can learn, grow, and be happy. If you’re miserable at a job, should you stay for more than two years? Think about what you liked and disliked about the job and use it to guide your choices moving forward. Don’t choose a new job without proactively analyzing whether the job is right for you. This will increase your chances of job satisfaction and the likelihood that you’ll stay for at least two years.
Don’t choose a new job without proactively analyzing whether the job is right for you.
2. INCREASE YOUR SALARY
Another benefit of switching jobs is that you may make more money. According to a recent study, the median pay raise for 2014 was 3%. According to research from Wharton management professor, Matthew Bidwell, hiring managers will pay 10% to 20% more to hire people with a proven track record. If you negotiate your offer effectively, you could make significantly more at another company.
3. MOVE UP FASTER
There are a lot of companies that only offer reviews and promotions once or twice a year. This doesn’t allow for fast upward mobility. One way to increase your title (and your pay) is to get hired at a new company. In fact, Ryan Kahn, a career coach, founder of The Hired Group, and author of Hired! The Guide for the Recent Grad, told Forbes that, “Job hopping is replacing the concept of climbing the corporate ladder.”
If there isn’t room for growth at your current company, switching jobs may be the best way to learn new skills, take on more responsibility, become a manager, and ultimately, advance your career.
THE CONS OF JOB HOPPING IN YOUR CAREER
1. DAMAGE YOUR REPUTATION
If you have a history of job-hopping, it is possible that future employers will think that you’ll be likely to leave quickly, if hired. They may not want to invest time and resources into training if they think you won’t stay for long.
Use your interview as a time to show that you’ll be committed to the company. Ask well-researched questions and offer statements like, “I’m really passionate about [the company’s] mission and the role, and would want to stay for a long time. What would advancement and growth look like for this position?” You’ll probably be asked why you left previous positions and why you are looking to leave your current one. Be prepared to tell your story and explain your reasoning.
2. LOSS OF SKILLS
If you like your job, you’re learning, and there is room for growth, why leave? According to a paper by Matthew Bidwell, it takes external hires two years to build relationships and learn how to be effective at the organization. Bidwell also notes that, “If you like where you are, stay there. Or at least understand how hard it can be to take your skills with you. You think you can go to another job and perform well, but it takes a long time to build up to the same effectiveness that you had in your previous organization. You need to be aware that often your skills are much less portable than you think they are.”
Bidwell also found that external hires have lower performance evaluations. “There is a much greater risk of being let go during those first few years, mainly because they may not develop the necessary skills and thus will not perform as well as expected. Then, too, they might decide to leave voluntarily.”
Before leaving a job at the two-year mark, consider the pros and cons. If you’re happy and learning, it may be worthwhile to stay. Advocate for yourself and try to get a promotion and raise internally. If you’re miserable or there is no room for growth, it’s okay to leave—just make sure to evaluate the new role and company to increase the chances that you’ll stay.
An original version of this article appeared on Career Contessa. Written by: Elana Lyn Gross