Career advice varies widely, depending on who’s giving it, but most experts agree on one thing: if you can manage it, you’re best off staying in one job for at least a few years. Change more often than that, the theory goes, and you’re telling prospective employers that you’re unreliable. But in this age of frequent layoffs and long-term unemployment, is there really still such a strong stigma against job hopping?
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A recent CareerBuilder survey indicates that changing jobs more frequently might be less of a deal breaker to hiring managers than it used to be. In a national poll of over 2,100 hiring managers, the Harris Poll showed that 55 percent of employers have hired a job hopper and 32 percent said that they’d “come to expect” employees to change jobs frequently.
“More workers are pursuing opportunities with various companies to expose themselves to a wider range of experiences, build their skill sets, or take a step up the ladder in pay or title,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of Human Resources at CareerBuilder.
The Legacy of Layoffs
There’s also the fact that employers have to deal with reality: 23 percent of workers were laid off, at least for some period of time, during the recession, according to data from the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. Only 21 percent of workers do not know anyone — a family member, friend, or acquaintance — who has been laid off in recent years.
Perhaps as a result, worker loyalty is also on the decline, especially among younger generations. A 2012 Met Life survey put employee loyalty at a seven-year low, with one out of three employees hoping to leave their jobs by the end of that year.
Even if employment numbers continue to improve, the workplace has changed, perhaps irrevocably. Workers have seen firsthand that companies are not necessarily loyal to them; why shouldn’t they seek other, better opportunities as they come up?
Loyalty vs. Investment
Haefner’s only caution is that workers should be certain that they’ll look like good investments to future employers.
“While building up a wealth of experience is a good thing, make sure that you’re staying with a company long enough to make an impact and provide a return on the investment they’ve made in you,” she says.
“Employers may be more understanding of job-hopping today, but most employers are still more likely to hire the candidate who has a pattern of longer tenure with organizations.”
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