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Job hopping? Here’s how long you need to stay at your job

Are you a job hopper? It could cost you an interview or even a job.

Are you a job hopper? It could cost you an interview or even a job.

Q: My job is great, but I have been here only three months, and I saw my dream job advertised today. I don’t want to sabotage my career path or resume, so how long do I need to stay where I am?

 A: The most recent Employee Tenure Summary from the Bureau of Labor Statistics says the median number of years wage and salary workers had been with their current employer was 4.2 years in January 2016. If you’re older than 55, that number is likely to be higher, and if you’re younger than 34, it’s likely to be lower. But that doesn’t say how long you should stay.
First, what’s wrong with changing jobs?

If you have changed jobs frequently in the past, employers assume you won’t stay with them either, so they won’t waste time and money on you. A recent survey of hiring managers by Bullhorn, a recruitment software firm, revealed 39 percent of recruiters believe job hopping is the single biggest obstacle to an unemployed candidate regaining employment. You don’t gain many points even if you’re employed and job hopping.

What constitutes job hopping?
The rule of thumb says job hopping means leaving a job after less than 1 year. And I wouldn’t recommend doing that more than once. Even if you have a perfectly respectable reason, employers may simply take one look at the dates and take a pass on you.
If you want to raise no eyebrows, stay 2 years in a producer role. In management and higher roles, add another year. If you have doubts about the length of time, find out what it costs your employer to train you to full capacity. How long does it take for you to be a break-even investment? Stay awhile after that to let the company recoup expenditures.
Even then, if you are making a lateral move, questions will be asked. If you are continuing an upward trajectory in your career, most employers understand, but they still won’t like it on your record. It could cost you an interview.
Flip side
The part that makes so many employees crazy is that the same employer who will label a candidate a job hopper will refuse to give existing employees raises, bonuses, and benefits to entice them to stay. Employees who want to move ahead in their career and financial compensation are forced to look for cost of living raises elsewhere, while employers complain that employees are disloyal. That is the disconnect that keeps job hopping alive and well.
 Image courtesy markuso via freedigitalphotos.net

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