How To Stop Job Hopping While Staying Nimble

April 20, 2016

“I want to explore a lot of different things in my career. But what if that makes me look like a job hopper after a while, making me a candidate that someone is afraid to hire?”

We get this question at GForce a lot, particularly from Millennial job candidates. The answer: There’s a difference between being nimble and being a job hopper.

Most of us want to find a profession that we’re passionate about – some of us are even fortunate enough to find that passion while we’re still in college. Yet, even if we find exactly what we want to do for a living early on, we don’t always know if we’ve found the best company to work for. It’s extremely rare that a person’s first job is going to be their last. Knowing this, why wouldn’t you want to fast track the process of self-exploration by jumping around from job to job for a while?

That might explain why the average Millennial stays in a job for less than three years, according a recent study by Future Workplace discovered. Is it so bad that someone leaves a job after a year or two? Probably not, as long as that’s happened only once or twice.

On the other hand, let’s say the hiring manager is seeing a resume with seven jobs in the last five years. It’s a sure thing that a pattern like that is going to raise some serious questions. You can already imagine a hiring manager’s reaction upon looking at a resume with so many different places of employment in a short window of time. They’d have to be thinking: “What’s the real story here? Is it that they can’t find anything they like? Do they not get along with anyone? What’s to say that they won’t leave here after a year like the rest of their prior workplaces if they’re hired?”

Who Says You Have To Leave To Learn Something New? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to learn new things – far from it. Acquiring new skills can be essential to show employers (your current one and ones you might have in the future) that you are continuously growing and evolving.

I can hear some Millennials saying, “Yes, but my job is really boring and I just don’t know if it’s a good long-term option for my career growth.”

Are you sure about that? Think carefully, because the grass is not always greener on the other side.

If you’ve been in one role at the company and for less than a year, it’s time to be honest with yourself: Such a limited length of time doesn’t provide you a whole lot of perspective on your career options at that company, does it? Can you truly say that you’ve fully explored every learning opportunity that the organization has to offer?

Unless you have a great reason for leaving, consider sticking it out (if it’s your first job, we often recommend giving it at least a fair 1.5 years) and taking responsibility as your own personal development strategist. There’s no shortcut to experience – and there’s no guarantee that a lot of job hopping will get you there faster.

With this in mind, take a solid look around your current environment: What technologies can you learn? What kind of education could you receive to achieve your goals? Who might support your efforts, whether that would be a mentor, your HR Department or an initiative the company has to promote career development?

It’s normal to crave a type of instant gratification with every career move. Yet, remember that you can discover much about yourself without necessarily leaving a company to do it. As long as you find yourself in an organization that provides growth opportunities and you can foresee possibilities for a career path you’re excited by, be willing to embrace the journey ahead with an open mind.

The next great environment to propel your career forward might be a lot closer than you think.

In a follow-up to this post, we’ll explore the strategies that hiring managers can take to potentially retain Millennials a lot longer.

What are some ways that you have found your career has flourished just by shifting directions in the same company? Did you find more exciting challenges through a new department, new mentor or a new project that came along? Share in the comments below!