How often should I change jobs?


Back in the early 90’s I attended a “long service” presentation where several employees proudly received gold watches for 25 years service. As a new recruit in my first job, I remember wondering if I’d ever find myself in the same position…..

Fast forward to today and six employers later, sadly a gold Rolex won’t be coming my way any time soon – unless I head out for some retail therapy at a local participating jeweller!  Employee/Employer attitudes (especially in large city centres) towards career loyalty and job stability have evolved to where it’s now far from the norm to stick around one employer for long term stints, especially early on in your career, let alone working for one brand over a lifetime.

It can be still eminently possible to enjoy a stellar career through long service within one employer (especially in a large corporate). But you’ll need a freak ability to execute key outcomes, matched with high IQ, rat-like political cunning, an ability to internally network, and a moral compass allowing you either (cause or ignore) some blood stains on the carpet!  Otherwise spending too much time sweating in the locker room of any employer is now a largely unrecognised career achievement.

Many Recruiters tend to regard a CV with long term employment within one brand with a stereotypical view that you’ll likely be “Instutionalised”. By long term, I’m talking 10 years plus. Not sure what happened to more endearing terms such as “loyal” or “stable” – but unless you’re keen to be part of the next Jurassic Park movie, the smart money for job marketability and career advancement is through actively changing employers on a regular basis. Rather than been seen as a “job hopper” – you’re more likely to be labelled as a progressive thinker, a calculated risk taker, and have a demonstrated ability to cope with change.

To add a bit of balance to my cynicism, some employers still appreciate stability across a career track record and as a Recruiter, I get client objections saying “my candidate” has moved around too much for their liking. So if you are in old fashioned terms “job hopping” – it’s important each new move you make shows a logical reason for change i.e. for career promotion, more money or industry diversification. Conversely, a candidate with say 15 years working with one brand, but achieving 5 promotions across different departments, can still be highly marketable to a new employer.

However on average, if I present a candidate to the employment market with a multi-move career background that may be deemed as a “job hopping” in the past, in today’s market, they’d be more likely to be judged offering more value in terms of knowledge and culture fit as a potential employee, than someone who has ground out a solid, stable career path working for one or two employers.

Maybe this is just another example of the Gen Y phenomenom ?