September 5, 2010
Job hopping: Companies frown on it, but frequent job changers cite benefits
The Associated Press
Mimosa Shah acts like a free agent in the working world. In the past two years, she has bounced around to four jobs: volunteer coordinator for two political campaigns, literacy coordinator for a community-based organization and — her current gig — community engagement coordinator for the Chicago Cultural Alliance.
“The benefit of job hopping, so to speak, is each time I changed jobs, I moved on for something: better pay, opportunity and mobility,” says Shah, 32. With each jump, she became exposed to new people, places and mentors, she says.
“I find that fulfilling, while to a traditionalist it may seem like somebody who doesn’t know what they want,” she says.
Job hoppers such as Shah leap from gig to gig in a relatively short span. Some switch after months and others after a couple of years, citing the need to change careers, beat a round of imminent layoffs or find fulfilling jobs.
Spin it in your favor
How can a job hopper make a positive impression in an interview? Lindsey Pollak, author of “Getting from College to Career,” has this advice:
Address the topic. Employers will notice frequent job changes on a résumé. “Explain to [the employer] what you learned from doing that, why are you smarter, wiser, more prepared and self-knowing because you’ve been through that experience,” Pollak says.
Think ahead. When asked about a five-year career plan, never say you plan to leave the company. Talk about intentions for the company, such as contributing to the organization and helping to build something great there.
Ask about advancement. Inquire about movement within the company.
Many job hoppers appear to be millennials. A 2008 survey by Experience, a career-services provider for college students and alumni, showed that 70 percent of recent grads left their first job within two years.
The short-timers can scare off employers because bosses fear such workers will leave them quickly, employment experts say.
“The feeling is, if they’ve left two or three jobs in six, seven, eight, nine, 12 months, they’re going to leave here,” says Tom Gimbel, CEO of a staffing and recruiting firm. “They’re malcontent, never going to be happy. So why take a chance on them?”
Turnover is expensive for companies, he says. Companies spend money to post jobs and recruit candidates, and time on interviews and training new employees.
There is an upside to job hopping, says Raven Moore, a legal assistant. Hoppers often are multitaskers who learn quickly, want to enhance their skills and challenge themselves to move to the next level, she says. She counts seven jobs in six years.
“I think people respect job hopping as long as you’re able to illustrate you can get stuff done,” Moore says. “Good work is about execution. If you’re able to showcase that you get things done and produce good work, people won’t care if you job hop,” she says.
Young workers are constantly looking for better opportunities and have seen how companies are not loyal to employees in this economy, says Lindsey Pollak, author of “Getting from College to Career: 90 Things to Do Before You Join the Real World.”
“The whole paradigm of how we work is completely changing,” Pollak says. “That old model of get one job out of college till you retire with a gold watch is completely, utterly gone.”
While there’s an adjustment period of getting settled into a new job, Shah, who works in the not-for-profit sector, says her bumpy career path has been worthwhile: “Regardless of all these job experiences, I’ve been able to grow as a person, and that’s important to me.”
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