Some sources say that people will change jobs about every four years, and in some cases change careers every ten years. These statistics are published by numerous experts, including the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, however; the focus of this article is on the motivating factors and outcomes of changing jobs.
The traditional school of thought has been, and in some cases continues to be, that frequent job changers are job hoppers who lack loyalty and commitment. That they do not stay around long enough to become an expert at anything. That they always have their nose in the want ads and will probably jump ship at the drop of a hat. In some cases, this is true.
Alternatively, candidates who change jobs with a specific strategy in mind may be sought after for different reasons. Leaving a position for one that holds more potential is part of career growth. More potential can mean more money, an intellectual challenge, a position more consistent with an educational pursuit, or a move up the ladder. These are job changes that employers hold in high regard. On a resume they see a justified pattern of progress and appreciate candidates who bring multiple experiences to the table.
Some job changes create questions about reliability, commitment and responsibility. Jumping from one job to another because there is a repeated dislike for a job, a cultural bad fit, complications in the employee gossip lounge, or a constant need to change because of boredom creates gaps that do not reflect sound career choices.
Recognizing and being receptive to opportunity includes the ability to weed out positions that are a bad fit or a dead end. Falling into the trap of repetitive changes and short-lived jobs is a red flag. Employers do not take candidates as seriously when they see a lot of activity that is not career growth specific.
Job changes can be the result of events that are not career strategic but are acceptable. Relocation, lay off, a retiring boss, company reorganization and firm mergers are some examples. These incidentals are excusable and out of an employee’s control.
Some people want to be in the fast lane throughout their entire career. They look, change, coast and then repeat the process until they retire. People who have the most success with this do it with a specific plan in mind. They stay in touch with their professional network, keep an eye on the want ads, and let recruiters and hiring managers know they are receptive to new opportunities. These are acceptable habits that lead to positive career growth.
Some people land in the right place at the right time and remain in one or two jobs throughout their entire career. They find satisfaction in the work and have been lucky enough to work for grateful bosses who motivate them to stay. Career approach is an individualized experience and all scenarios, if they reap positive results, are completely acceptable.