Not too many years ago, job hopping wasn't even a term for accounting and finance professionals. Loyalty to one employer was the standard. Now that type of career path is becoming as rare as lifelong pensions, and changing jobs is being seen in a whole new light.
According to a new Robert Half survey, the majority of professionals (64 percent) consider job changes every few years to be beneficial, especially when it comes to compensation. Four years ago, only 45 percent of workers had that response.
While job hopping may be the new normal — especially for millennial workers (75 percent of the 18- to 34-year-old respondents see rewards in job hopping) — that doesn’t mean the practice of changing jobs won’t raise a red flag with some employers. Forty-four percent of the CFOs surveyed said they're not likely to hire candidates who job hop to avoid the flight risk.
At what point is "changing jobs" elevated to "job hopping"? When asked the number of role changes in 10 years that constitute a job hopper, professionals said five, and CFOs cited six.
So, what’s your plan? Should you stay or go? Here are some pros and cons to consider before making an abrupt switch to your career path:
Advantages of changing jobs often
There are benefits to making successive career moves. For example:
- More money — The top reason for changing jobs frequently is higher wages, according to 31 percent of respondents to a Robert Half survey. Since salary negotiations are common when starting a new job, changing positions can be a good time to ask for the salary you think you deserve, assuming you’re qualified for the position and you’ve done your research. (Check out the 2018 Robert Half Salary Guide for that.) However, if the only negative about your current position is compensation, the smarter strategy might be to ask for a raise and/or other benefits before sending out resumes.
- More experience — Switching jobs regularly offers you an opportunity to expand your skill set. The more employers you work for, the greater the chance you will be exposed to different types of software, accounting platforms, job responsibilities, clientele and finance specialties.
- Upward mobility — Sometimes, the only way to get ahead in your career is to find a new job. Candidates who have job-hopped frequently but assumed higher levels of responsibility along the way can impress some hiring managers with their drive. (Moving up steadily within one company can be just as compelling, however, as it shows drive and commitment.)
- Change of scenery — A job change gives you the opportunity to hit the reset button on your career. Finance professionals may switch jobs because they want to work for a different boss or experience another organizational culture — or simply to escape irritating coworkers. (However, if not getting along with your colleagues is the impetus for a series of short tenures, the problem could lie with your own personality and performance. Then no amount of scenery-changing will prove satisfying in the long term.)
Use our job search tool to get an idea of the types of positions that are in demand and what skills and experience employers seek for these positions.
Disadvantages of job hopping
There are also some significant downsides to changing jobs frequently:
- A reputation as a quitter — To a hiring manager, jumping from one company to another within a relatively short period may be a sign you have problems committing, especially if you make a series of lateral moves.
- Missed opportunities — One problem with leaving a job too soon is that you may miss the chance to earn in-demand accounting skills. Take enterprise resource planning (ERP), for example. Employers prize finance employees who are proficient in Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics GP, SAP or Sage. If you are learning valuable ERP skills in your current role but leave before you can master them, you could be losing a valuable opportunity to enhance your marketability.
- Miscalculating the upside — Make sure you thoroughly research a prospective employer’s company culture, advancement opportunities and long-term stability before you change jobs. The last thing you want is to begin another job search within months because your new position fell short of your expectations.
Job hopping may be losing its stigma as more of the younger generations enter the workforce, but you should always take time to consider thoroughly whether making a change is right for you.
Assess your situation, such as whether you have a supportive boss or team. Ask for a second opinion from mentors outside the company or a specialized recruiter. Compile a list of what’s important to you professionally, and compare those values to any new opportunities that come your way. If you find a good match, then hop to it. Just be sure to leave on good terms, with ample notice.
Read more about our job hopping survey.
Editor's note: This post was recently updated with new survey information.