How Many Career Moves Are Too Many?

By Joe Stein

When it comes to career advice, a lot is made regarding how much is too much in terms of career movement. The question becomes when does is it the dreaded “job hopping”? “Job Hopping” is when someone changes companies or jobs too often from the perspective of the employer. Similarly, how many career changes does it take before someone switches from trying new things to not knowing what they want to do with his or her life?
 
Well…WNYJOBS.com is prepared to answer some of these tough questions with the results of a recent poll posed to both participating job seekers and employers. 
 
For job seekers, the focus was on the last five years of his or her career, and how many career moves have been made? Surprisingly, 62% of respondents have made one or less moves since 2011. I write “surprisingly” because I believe the perception of the modern employee is that they are always changing their job. In contrast to these very stable workers, 9% of the readers have been pretty active, with 5 or more changes. 
 
Here are the results of the question to job seekers regarding the number of career moves made in the past five years:
 
Number of Career Moves
Percentage of Responders
None
38%
One
24%
Two – Four
29%
Five or More
9%
 
Next, is the employer side of things and how many moves they believe is acceptable during a five-year time period. Keep in mind that employers tend to be much more conservative in regard to this particular topic. I still know some Hiring Managers who, when they receive a resume, will first look at the job history and count the number of moves made, before deciding to examine anything else on the document. The vast majority of employers feel that some movement is acceptable, as long as it is limited to one or two changes. This poll confirms that “job hopping” should be done with extreme caution, as not a single employer felt it was acceptable to have three or more job changes in a five year time period.
 
Here are the results of the question posted to employers regarding what number of job changes are acceptable:
 
Number of Job Changes
Percentage of Responders
None
6%
One – Two
94%
Three – Four
0%
Five or More
0%
 
It is concerning that there still does seem to be a disconnect between job seekers and employers on the higher end of acceptable moves. There are 38% of employees who have made two or more changes, while employers seem to place a hard cap on two moves. It is very tempting for an employee to want to leave for a little bit more money or when your work situation becomes difficult, but there seems to be some value to sticking it out once in a while.
 
From my perspective, I am aligned with the employer response to the poll presented. I don’t mind seeing some job movement, whether this is internal or external activity. In my mind, this can be a positive sign of someone who is career oriented and in demand in his or her field. I do cringe, however, when I see applicants who rarely stay more than a couple of years with a company. Even for an experienced person, it can take months or even a year before the person is settled in and fully productive. If you are hiring a person who traditionally only stays a couple of years, then your ability to maintain stability and achieve the level of productivity desired will be limited.
 
There is certainly some strategy when it comes to your career moves. Based on the results of this WNYJOBS.com poll, some movement is acceptable (and may even be encouraged), however, (like most anything) moderation is the key. A move or two every five years will provide you with new experiences (and hopefully more money) but changing beyond that cadence should be done with caution for fear of being tagged a “job hopper”.
 
As always, best of luck in your job search.