3 Things to Know About Job-Hopping and Career-Switching

Ah, the perennial question: how long should you stay at a company? Job-hopping is a sticky subject. Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a different answer every time. It used to be taboo to leave a company before three years. Others say you should put in a full year. In some industries, like in-demand programmers and developers, you’ll see people moving positions every six months.

Millennials have become particularly adept at job-hopping. “A 2012 PayScale report found the median tenure for a millennial employee was just two years, compared to seven years for a baby boomer. And a 2013 survey by Millennial Branding and Beyond.com, a career networking site, found 30% of companies lose 15% or more of their millennial workers within a year,” reports CNBC. Stats like these are one reason why millennials get unfairly branded as disloyal or lazy.

One of the reasons millennials hop around so frequently? Lack of upward mobility. According to statistics, millennials are earning 20% less than boomers did at the same stage of life, despite being better educated. Likewise, only 28% of millennials believe their current organization is making full use of their skills. With no prospect for better pay or leadership roles in sight, it’s no wonder this generation moves around more frequently.

These are the new guidelines for learning how to job-hop to benefit your resume. Of course, if you’re miserable, or asked to do something against your ethics, you shouldn’t feel compelled to stay at a company longer than you can stand it. Otherwise, follow these guidelines!

It can be good for your career, if you do it right.

Bottom line: job-hopping has salary benefits. According to Legal Technology Solutions (LTS) figures, in a healthy economic market, a 8–10% increase is about average for a job change — though some estimates put it at a much higher 20% increase. Raise your hand if, come performance review time, an employer has offered you a “title change” with no comparable salary difference? Everyone? Great.

Job-hopping is one of the fastest ways to start earning more. That said, it’s not the only reason why people change companies more quickly. If you’re going to jump jobs, money shouldn’t be the only factor. Consider benefits, work/life balance, alignment with your long-term career goals, and your potential mentor opportunities. Salary shouldn’t be the only point of comparison between your current position and a future one.

Keep in mind your “story.”

What story does your resume tell? There’s usually a good reason why someone chooses to leave an organization. Whether it’s lack of opportunity, bad culture fit, or something else, there’s a story to be told. Many recruiters recognize that career switching usually happens for a reason. Job-hopping is “very specific to the person. It depends on their career plans, assuming they have any career plans and whether they feel they get the right amount of challenge and flexibility,” says HR expert Claire McCartney.

Know what your story is and make sure your resume conveys it. Why you have so many positions in a short amount of time? Is it because you’re ambitious? Is it because you’re seeking a specific company culture? BULLIT can help you flush out some key plot points: what skills have you learned? Are you trustworthy? What soft skills have you taken with you from each company? Maybe you haven’t found the right fit for your personality — and communicating your personality is half the battle.

Career switching and job-hopping are two different beasts.

Job-hopping is more common that career switching. It’s also easier to do: you’re staying within an industry and leveraging familiar skills. With career switching, you’ll need to highlight relevant soft skills to show you fit an open position. In both cases, your references are key. Frequent job hoppers will need to prove their reliability and trustworthiness. Career switchers will need to show they can handle learning on-the-job. Your credibility is never more in question than when you’re completely changing course. For career switchers, your references will become the cornerstone of building a reputation in a new industry.

BULLIT supports your career no matter what direction it takes. Highlight the skills that will always translate, no matter what position you’re applying for. Your leadership, trustworthiness, creativity, and brains will always matter. BULLIT’s anonymous reviews will support your case for taking your career to the next level!

Originally published at BULLIT.