It is a widespread belief among employers, recruiters, and employees that people who change jobs frequently make an impression of “job-hoppers”. This opinion makes many people stick to the jobs they hate or continue to coast in their comfort zone.
Disagreeing with the prevailing notion, I aim to share my personal perspective on this matter. Drawing from my own experiences, as well as objective facts and research, I argue that changing jobs significantly enhances career progression, provides a broader outlook, and brings mutual benefits to both the employee and the employer.
Difference between “job-hopping” and job change
This is one of the best questions to ask: how often is too often? Personally, I think the answer will largely depend on each individual, their approach to their career, and character. But during my research, I discovered a few facts which are worth mentioning in this article. I will let you digest these facts on your own.
It is generally considered OK to change job every 1-3 years. When people change jobs every 3-9 months, it might raise at least 2 red flags for the recruiters:
Red flag No.1
When jobs aren’t clearly related, potential employers might find it hard to understand what your true interests are. It may seem like you are still searching for your calling and don’t know what you actually want and where you want to develop. The company might be reluctant to invest money and time into your onboarding knowing that you might leave in a couple of months.
“No matter how often you change jobs, your job history should reflect clear professional interests and expertise”.
Red flag No.2
Staying at jobs less than 1 year might indicate that you are not dedicated enough to your professional development and challenges 👆, which rise with the new job. Staying with the employer for at least as long as 1 year may show that you took some effort to understand the specifics of the company and the job itself.
Interesting research has been done by Boris Groysberg and Robin Abrahams for hbr.org where they have outlined the most common job-change mistakes. I highly recommend you to read this article as it gave me and will give you interesting insights about what we need to pay attention to when we are changing jobs. This will help mitigate the risk of being forced to change again 😉
Insights from Research on Job Changes
Before I jump into my own experience and share with you a few eye-opening insights, let’s have a look at some research data and facts.
Firstly, Forbes.com published interesting research about why successful people change jobs more often. It is observed, that the more an employer tends to hire people who have spent years in a previous job, the less good that employer can do for your career. The real value of the individual at work is to be measured by accomplishments and not the years they have spent with the organization.
Secondly, if the company does not grow fast enough, it simply won’t be able to present you with new experiences and challenges. The companies that move and change slow, often drown in bureaucracy and, often useless, processes. Even worse, they pull you down with them. And you, instead of dedicating your time and energy to new ideas, business development, and improvements, learn the great new skill of “following the process” 🥱
Unfortunately, the following is true for big companies:
“The majority of large organizations treat people as a resource only, as if “human element is completely removed from their business result”.
Research underlines that staying with the same organization for too long makes you lose touch with the outside world, makes your “brain go to sleep” because you get into your comfort zone and don’t take up the new challenges. The same is highlighted in Businessinsider.com in the article “7 reasons to change jobs, even if you don’t want to”. The reality is that many people tend to start coasting, once they found comfort in their lives.
“The longer professionals coast, the more they have to lose”
And finally, when you change jobs – you will get better at evaluating future employers, and every time you change – you re-define your value personally and professionally 🙂
How changing jobs impacted my development
I have changed jobs multiple times, actually 5 times over the last 7 years. Some changes were caused by the need to change the city or country, but most of them were caused by the need to develop, increase the salary (because I was underpaid), or change the position. Now when I look back at all those changes, I have reflected on them and came up with important insights 😮 Maybe they will help some of you to take your career development into your own hands and act upon it, opt for more challenging roles, stop coasting and stay open for a change.
Changing jobs helped me:
1. Re-define my role
Changing jobs helped me re-define my role and make a better match between what I love to do and what my employer wants me to do. I love my profession and what I do. I love to manage and take full responsibility for my teams, the business I am entrusted to develop and enhance, the customers I serve. But each company defines the roles which would fulfill such needs in their own specific way. When I started – it was a long journey to get experience and fine-tune what I wanted and loved to do with what I was hired to do. Changing jobs helped me understand from different companies’ perspectives how the role can be defined and which role fits my needs best. If I had worked for just one company, I would have still believed that project managers focus only on timelines, scope, and budgets.
What is more, very often organizations are not able to cover all the aspects of your profession. For example, in one company I used to work for, I did not have the responsibility to manage the budgets, even though I wanted to. For a project manager, this is one of the key aspects. So, you must grow and continue to acquire skills independent of your employer.
2. Get a better position
In my IT experience, I have never worked in small companies, mainly in international corporations. The painful truth, which many people know and discuss among themselves, is that it is easier and faster to leave the company and come back (if you want to, of course), rather than investing time into trying to get a promotion internally. Very often you end up working at the same position on a trial period for the new role for some time when the new hire gets all at once – better position and better money.
3. Increase my salary
You might be surprised now when reading it, but money is a secondary priority for me. It is a tool for exchange, not a goal itself. And this is not because I have rich parents or inherited something, that I don’t put money as priority. I do not. This is because I know I am a professional, that I invest into my development and if others can see it, they will pay me my worth. Until know – money has always come together with the interesting job offer.
From personal observations, when people work in the same companies for years, their incremental salary increase is lower than if they changed the employer. Sometimes the difference is 20-30% or more. Numbers don’t lie as well: if you earn now, say, 5000 USD at the current position, and another company offers you, say, 6000 USD. Every month, which you keep working in the old company, you lose 1000 USD. Think about that 😉 That’s 12k per year!
One more argument to support this opinion. In any company – big or small, there might be a limit of how much money they are ready to pay. If you reached that limit, you might stay as you are for a long time or be pushed to change.
So yes, changing jobs benefits you financially to greater extent than as if you stayed with the same employer.
“You start with a base salary and your annual raise is based off of a percentage of that number. There’s a limit to how high your manager can increase your salary.”
4. Grow experience and awareness
Each change gradually enhanced my experience. Step by step I gained a better understanding of how organizations function, what processes they have, how they make business, how they operate, and what type of culture they are building. This is a huge bonus to my already existing portfolio of skills. Now, when I join a new company, it is a matter of weeks, if not days, to figure out what is what and make my next steps in new job.
I have many colleagues and friends, who are not so keen on opting for a change. Some sit 9 or 15 years in the same company. This becomes a dangerous trap because the world and the environment in which we live nowadays changes rapidly. Skills, which we obtained 5 years ago, are no longer valid today or are re-defined. Take the example with Agile: it used to be applicable only for software development projects, but now due to such a hype around it – even those PMs who used to be very “inflexible” to changes, need to learn new skills and apply them in the new reality. I see how managers and employees, who sit in companies for years, don’t even have a slight understanding of what is changing and still try to fit Agile under their own understanding (in the best case). Worst case they keep ignoring it and they don’t dedicate even the smallest amount of time to read and understand what is going on.
5. Official job titles differ from actual roles
A certain level of disconnect will always exist and no one will help you understand what the actual role is unless you try it. This is a trial-and-error method. But this lesson helps ask the right people better questions and evaluate future employers better 😉
I hope this information was useful and it will help you look at the job change from a wider perspective. If you know someone who can benefit from this information, please share. If you have additional useful insights about career planning and job changes, please let me know I would love to hear about them. Let’s support each other in our continuous improvement. Sharing is caring!