Job-Hopping: Career Suicide or Strategic Masterstroke?

6 minutes

The age-old debate across IT & software engineering job sphere continues: Is job-hopping...

The age-old debate across IT & software engineering job sphere continues: Is job-hopping really the career killer people try and paint it as or is it actually a smart move? We know the scenario – you’re sat down having an interview and hear the classic “can you explain why there are so many gaps in your resume?”.

Here's the truth though: to us, it all really depends. There are definitely downsides to constantly switching jobs, but there can also be significant upsides that aren't really discussed. But what are they though? 

As recruiters, we feel we rest on quite impartial ground with no weighing one way or the other. With no bias we thought we’d be perfectly placed to help filter through the noise and lay down the facts on both sides of the camp – and then maybe land on an answer.

So, Let's break it down, ditch the outdated stereotypes, and see if there's more to the story.


The "It's a Bad Idea" Camp


Lack of Loyalty: This one's a classic. Leaving jobs too quickly after signing the contract is seen by some as a sign of being fickle & unreliable. In many ways this criticism comes from the idea in an employer getting a bad investment in hiring that person. They’ve spent the time and hours getting you inaugurated into the team and familiar with all the processes to then have someone up and leave a few weeks/months in – not the best but as we’ll discuss later, is there a reason for this lack of loyalty? (let’s circle back on this).

Gaps on your Resume: Those blank spaces can raise eyebrows, leading to questions about why you left and what you were doing during those "off" months. To a hiring manager they might wonder if the breaks were voluntary, a time for personal pursuits, or involuntary due to job searching difficulties and skill gaps in your resume that employers are picking up.

Job Hopper Label: It’s silly but an unfortunate reality, there is a stigma attached to jumping around with no clear plan and it can follow you, potentially hindering your future career prospects. Its a fine tight rope to walk with no immediate clear answer. What is considered an adequate time to stay in a role?

Limited Skill Development: Frequent job changes can make it difficult to develop deep expertise in a particular field. Companies often invest in training and development for their employees, and if you leave before recouping that investment for them, you’re missing out on a golden and often paid for opportunity to learn with no risk attached.

Missed Promotions and Raises: Loyalty and experience are often rewarded with promotions and raises. By constantly moving on, you might miss out on opportunities for advancement within a company and improving your “status” on the job market.

Burning Bridges: Leaving a job abruptly or on bad terms can damage your reputation within a particular industry. The professional world can be smaller than you think, and negative experiences can follow you, making it harder to land future jobs.


The "It's a Good Idea" Camp

Skill Acquisition: On the other side, switching jobs can lead to learning new skills, exploring different industries, and expanding your professional network. The more opportunities you embark on and the more varied projects you complete the more well-rounded your skillset becomes, making you a more adaptable and valuable asset in the job market.

Salary Negotiation Leverage: Having multiple job experiences can make you a more valuable candidate and increase your bargaining power for higher pay.

Career Advancement: Sometimes, the only way to climb the ladder is to switch companies. New opportunities, promotions, and leadership roles might be waiting for you.

The Potential Middle Ground

Whilst there’s positives and negatives to job hopping, for those that like the freedom of moving between jobs as at a fast pace, there is an option that gives you the independence you may want with the stability you need to enhance your credibility at the same time – contract work. It's not entirely a direct comp for people that enjoy or find themselves job hopping often but it does offer a number of perks that can fill in both the positives and negatives of job hopping that we've listed above:

Location Independence: Many contract jobs, especially those that are remote-friendly, allow you to work from anywhere with a decent internet connection. This means you could be a digital nomad, traveling the world while you work.

Flexible Schedule: Contract work often offers more flexibility in scheduling than traditional employment. You can set your own hours and work when it best suits your lifestyle and travel plans.

Variety of Projects: Contract work exposes you to a wider range of projects and clients compared to a single employer. This can be a great way to develop new skills and experiences while experiencing different work environments (even if virtually).

However, there are some additional points to consider when we talk about contract work:

Visas and Permits: Keep in mind that visa and permit requirements can vary depending on the location and type of contract work you do. Research these requirements before traveling to avoid any complications.

Client Availability: Contract work isn't always consistent. There may be periods with less work or even gaps between contracts. It's important to have a financial buffer and potentially multiple clients lined up to maintain income flow.

Self-Discipline: The freedom of contract work also requires a high degree of self-discipline. You'll need to manage your time effectively, stay motivated, and be proactive in finding new projects.

Overall, contract work can be a fantastic option for people who crave the freedom of movement and a flexible lifestyle. Just be sure to weigh the pros and cons and plan accordingly to make the most of the work style. In the discussion around job hopping and whether it poses a chance to damage your career, we feel contract role offers a good middle ground between the "it's good" and the "it's bad" camp


So, What’s the the Verdict? It’s Complicated!

Job-hopping isn't inherently good or bad - it all depends on the "why" and the "how." 

Jump for the Right Reasons: Don't just bounce around with no thought after just a week in a role - that benefits no one. Seek out jobs that align with your long-term career goals, offer valuable learning experiences, and allow you to make meaningful contributions.

Don't feel beholden to a job: Your happiness should always be a priority when working and if you truly don't feel like something is working, don't be afraid to explore what's out there. Many recruiters are more than happy to talk informal talks to weigh up potential projects their clients are working on. If something aligns or piques your interest - don't be afraid to explore it.

Craft a Compelling Narrative: Don't be afraid to explain your job changes during interviews. Emphasise the skills and knowledge you gained, the challenges you overcame, and how these experiences make you a stronger candidate.


The Bottom Line

Job-hopping can be a powerful tool for career growth, but it requires careful planning. There's a big difference between being in a role for 6 months and completing all the projects that where asked of you and jumping ship after 3 weeks. It's all about strategy. If done properly, it can pave the way to a satisfying and successful career path. But if done haphazardly, it can leave you with a patchy resume. Take time. Invest in your career and reap the rewards that come from it.

If you're considering making a move, why not check out our official site for the full list of roles we're working on? We offer a variety of exciting opportunities that can help you take the next step in your career journey!