How to Avoid Job Hopping

We see more job hopping than ever before with more Millennial and Gen Z workers in the workforce. Switching employers can allow you to learn new skills, take on different roles and responsibilities, increase your salary and benefits, and find a workplace that best suits your goals and preferences. As a candidate, having a resume with a lot of jobs relative to years of experience can also make you seem unreliable and undesirable. This is especially true on Wall Street, where jumping from role to role isn’t as common as it is in sectors like marketing and technology. 

Employers want to know that you’re going to be a committed, reliable player on their team. They want to know that their trust and investment in you is going to pay off. No one wants to hand major responsibilities to someone who will walk out the door less than a year later. So where is the balance between acquiring new skills and challenges, and demonstrating your trustworthiness? It largely depends on your level of experience and your goals for taking on a position. 

Younger Workers Have More Flexibility

Unless you are in a position for a contractually specified period of time (like the 2-year investment banking Analyst programs), take roles where you can expect to stay for the long run. When deciding whether a position is the right one, try to determine if you can see yourself growing and continuing to learn over a period of multiple years. 

There are times when you might take a job to learn a specific set of skills before moving on to the next phase of your career. Even then, one to two years is a good amount of time to spend in a role. 

However, while it is important to avoid being a job hopper, it is equally important to continue to learn and grow in your current role. If you find that you’re not getting important assignments, acquiring new skills, or seeing opportunities for advancement, it may be time to move.

Experienced Workers Should Be Selective 

A certain amount of movement is normal for more junior professionals. Different roles can spark new interests and build new skills as steppingstones in a career. Repeated movement becomes much harder for more experienced workers to explain. Try to minimize the number of switches by being selective about each new role.

Wall Street resumes tend to have gaps between jobs. The gaps are caused by garden leaves, layoffs and other events that don’t occur with as much frequency in other industries. If possible, avoid jumping at the first offer when you’re between roles unless it seems to be the right one. Although it is illegal, ageism exists, and seniority creates a pyramid effect: there are fewer roles the more senior you get. As a result, it’s important to find roles that will work for the long term. Do your due diligence and pay attention to what you hear and what is inferred. There are no guarantees that you will like what’s out there if you decide to leave the next job earlier than expected. 

Demonstrating Your Reliability 

If you have switched positions frequently throughout your career, prospective employers will want to know how they can trust you not to jump ship if they offer you a role. Be honest about your previous job switches and explain the reasoning behind them. More importantly, be prepared to explain why you won’t be looking to make a change like that again, and what you’re doing in your current search to ensure that you find a position that will suit you for the long term. 

Once you do get your next position, try to stay there for a healthy amount of time. The only true way to show you’re not a job hopper is to avoid job hopping. Consider your long-term goals and be sure to pursue opportunities that align with those goals.