Job hopping used to be the kiss of death on your résumé. The candidate who only stayed briefly at a company, for a year or two, was considered to be potentially unstable. However, these days, and in certain industries, companies and recruiters are beginning to have a different view of the job hopper — as someone who is young but wants to gain experience rapidly, who is also flexible, resourceful and learns fast.
Conversely, are people from older generations now more at risk for not getting hired because they stayed at their jobs much longer, or perhaps too long? Do companies now want people with lots of varied experience and if so, can job hopping help?
Steve Kasmouski, president of the search division at the Winter Wyman & Co. job recruiting firm, said there are two ways to look at job hoppers:
On the one hand, he said, nobody wants to be a job hopper, and people who cannot demonstrate the ability to stay put for more than a year or two are going to have a harder time finding work than those who can. It's OK if you go through a period where you made a couple of quick job changes because of circumstances beyond your control, he said. But only as long as you have periods of longer term employment, especially when the work you describe you've done during that stable period is substantial. It's the story behind the changes that matters most.
But, Kasmouski noted, on the other end of the spectrum, people are just as suspicious of candidates who haven't changed jobs in 15 or 20 years, because the people will assume you just won't be able to adjust to a new environment. This is especially true if they look at the work you have done and it does not show any real progression, or if the work you have been doing has now become obsolete.
His conclusion? The ideal is to have some job changes, as long as there is a good story. Probably the most important thing is to be able to demonstrate that no matter where you worked or for how long, you were someone who was critical to the success of a project or the company as a whole.
In every event, do what others fail to do!