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Learn to job hop successfully to help you reach your career goals

No doubt about it, the concept of a corporate lifer has become a thing of the past. Americans are no longer staying at the same job for 40 years. In fact, on average, Americans between 18-44 years old held 11 jobs between 1978 and 2008. Here are some surprising statistics on the current state of the workforce:

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that today, the average worker stays at each job for 4.4 years.
  • 91% of millennials (born between 1977-1997) expect to stay in a job for less than three years, according to a Future Workplace Survey.
  • Today, a third of our workforce is either self-employed or hired on a contract basis.

Now more than ever, recruiters are more open-minded to job-hopping -- as long as it is done for the right reasons.
 


Do

Do build and nurture your network before you hop

A recent survey from Challenger, Gray & Christmas indicates that networking offline and online are the most effective job search methods. So get out there and start developing your business and personal relationships. A glowing reference will shed positive light on your situation and a good word from a contact could help you secure your next job.

Do hop for culture fit

Research the companies you are looking to join and let them know that you are focused on culture fit. Explaining that a stable, growing firm that values employees is the type of environment you would like to contribute to, for a long time.

Do hop for growth opportunities

The best reason to job hop is for personal and professional growth. Make your move if you have the opportunity to gain responsibility, upward mobility, and marketable skills.

Do evaluate your emotional state before hopping

Before you take the leap, be sure you’re doing it with a clear head and an open mind. Very often our emotions get in the way of making good decisions – you know what they say, never make a change when you are under duress.

Do keep your eye on your goal as you hop

Whether you stay at a job for 6 months or 6 years, be sure the next move you make brings you closer to your main goal. Of course, attaining your ultimate objective requires setting smaller, more attainable goals. Each job should be a stepping stone to your dreams.


Don't

Do not forget to find a common thread

The lack of continuity in a career sends up red flags for most recruiters. Certainly, it is acceptable for you to explore different opportunities. The key is to be able to tell a story about your journey; one that is compelling and shares your end goal.

When you interview or network, start by explaining your career challenges. Talk about your journey and highlight the common thread that runs through your experiences. Discuss the successes along the way and highlight your skills, values, and principles in an objective way. Express your desire to learn and grow and illustrate this in your story. Talk about your dreams, how you want to get achieve them, and how the next job will lead you to your goals.

Do not change jobs without showing growth

Sure, a strategic and informed lateral move can benefit you in the right environment. But climbing up the ladder is the direction that most employers are hoping to see you take. Perception is reality and, very often, lateral movers give the appearance of being un-promotable. The other drawbacks? Lateral moves bring you no closer to your financial or professional goals.

Do not flee without fixing problems

Don’t flee before trying to fix challenging work situations. Many people have legitimate reasons for leaving a job from hell, but doing so may make you appear un-adaptable. Now more than ever, stuff happens. New managers. Changing responsibilities, Shifting initiatives. Increased workloads or hours—it’s all part of today’s doing more with less business environment. If you have a history of leaving job after job because you can’t deal with change, you may not be considered for the job of your dreams.

Do not think the grass is always greener

Think your next job will be collegial, stimulating, lucrative and self-actualizing? Let’s be real. Embarking on a new job means starting at ground zero. You’ll have to prove yourself to your new boss and all your coworkers. You’ll also have to build new relationships throughout the new organization. Plus, a completely different process may have to be learned.

Do not hesitate to tell the truth

Whether you were fired, laid off, or quit, it is vital that you tell the truth during your interview. It is not unusual for people to leave a job because of a poor culture fit and it’s even more common to be laid off because of a shrinking workforce. The key to overcoming this red flag is clearly explaining that the change in work status had nothing to do with your performance or your success on the job.


Summary
Jumping cartoon

In today’s corporate world, there’s very little loyalty left on either side of the equation. Since the economic downturn, many employers have been vilified as heartless, selfish and focused on the bottom line. Now, the tables are turning and employees are the ones moving up and out. Employers need to take the time to hear the stories of so-called job hoppers and accept that shorter job stints have become the new normal.


More expert advice about Managing Your Career as an Employee

Photo Credits: SUIT by Flickr: JonoMueller; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com

Gail Tolstoi-MillerCEO

Gail Tolstoi-Miller, a graduate of NYU, has worked in the recruiting field for more than 15 years. She serves dual CEO roles at Consultnetworx, a consulting firm and Speednetworx, a B2B speed networking event company. Recognized for her innov...

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