Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Are you a job hopper?

Yesterday, I read a great BBC article by my pal Bryan Borzykowski called Are You Job Hopping To Nowhere? In this article, he examines whether job hopping can help or hurt your career.

He says that the nature of employment is changing, and more young workers are job hopping due to a variety of reasons – there’s a lot more contract or part-time work, combined with layoffs and salary freezes that can push people around to different jobs. But frequently moving around doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll climb the corporate ladder faster, and staying put might not earn you significant salary increases.

I look back at my career so far, and it’s obvious I’ve been a job hopper:

  1. Writer in the provincial government (6 months)
  2. Marketing Coordinator in municipal government (12 months, + $17,000)
  3. Marketing Coordinator in non-profit (8 months, – $5,000)
  4. Marketing Coordinator in real estate (18 months, + $6,000)
  5. Marketing Coordinator in apparel (20 months, + $2,000)
  6. Freelance Writer (12 months, + $7,000)
  7. Marketing Manager – current job (6 months, + $8,000)

But, aside from one job move (this is when I moved to Vancouver), my salary has increased (sometimes significantly) over the previous position – to the point where I’ve more than doubled my salary since I started working. If I were still working in the provincial government, I’d likely enjoy modest cost-of-living increases, and perhaps a promotion or two – but I’m pretty confident there’s no way my salary would have increased as much had I not kept jumping around.

The article says that people who stay long-term with a company often take salary increases when offered to them, but don’t necessarily know what they’re really worth compared to people outside of the organization. And I think in a lot of cases, that’s true. But there are plenty of good reasons to stick it out with a company – great people, great benefits, flexibility, believing in what you’re doing, etc.

That being said, I’ve never stayed long enough at a job to be promoted, or really feel like I’ve made a difference or contributed in a significant way. I think that will change with my current job. I see myself here long term. There’s endless opportunities to grow the position, as well as myself as an employee, and I think that’s what I’ve been looking for while I was job hopping. None of the other positions felt right. This one does, even if it’s in an industry I might never would have considered early on in my career.

Bryan’s article concludes by saying the best resumes show a combination of loyalty and leaving. After making a few moves to different companies, it’s in your best interest to spend longer amounts of time with a single organization – and after job hopping for so long, I would agree with that. The way I see it, it’s kind of like dating. When you first start dating, you might have a few relationships (and break-ups) before you really figure out what you want, and what works best for you. And once you find something that fits your personality and your goals, well, you hang onto it. :)

Are you a job hopper, or have you stayed loyal to one or two organizations over your career?

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


  1. cj says:

    For the most part, I’m loyal. I’m not one that moves around much. My resume can fit on one page, still. the shortest job I’ve ever had was 2 months but that was because I was offered a better, more stable job. I felt so guilty giving my notice but happy to have a job that was stable.

  2. J says:

    I’ve held pretty much the same job since I was 19(I’m 33 now). Last summer, my previous employer lost the contract and the new company hired me. They gave me a 25% raise. My previous employer never gave raises. In fact, they actually cut wages due to the economy and when I left, I still wasn’t making what I had been.

    I guess loyalty to an employer doesn’t mean much these days.

    Your post has me wanting to seek employment elsewhere, just to see what I may be worth to an employer.

  3. Michelle says:

    I’m definitely not a job hopper. This has definitely hurt me when it comes to salary increases.

  4. rockermocking says:

    I got into the non-profit development field (my first real career) 3 years behind the average college grad. As such, I started out at the low, college-grad pay but was 3 years older and in grad school debt as well. I have since jumped to my third job and have increased my salary by 50% since I started. I luckily work in NYC where there are oodles of non-profits to jump around. I know I’d be no where near my salary now if I didn’t change jobs three times. I plan on sticking with this position for at least two years (it also helps that my job is now 20 minute subway ride away from work). I’m all about changing jobs in the beginning but also believe in eventually settling down a bit. I hear people around me saying that 2 years at each job is a good time frame for job jumping. I didn’t follow that at first but i will from here on out because I know I am not still at the top of my career and can get a better salary changing jobs than staying put and waiting for promotions. Also, I do want to point out that in non-profits, it is RARE to get matches to your 403(b)’s and this is the first of the three jobs in which I have dental insurance. So unlike in the corporate world where you may have a great vacation policy, matches to your 401(k), and super awesome health benefits, in non-profits you don’t always get that so when you get to a position with decent benefits, it sometimes encourages you to stay longer.

  5. laura / move to portugal says:

    I stuck with the same company for 16 years and looking back, now wish I hadn’t as I’m sure it cost me salary increases.

  6. I only job hopped from one company to becoming a freelancer. I can’t go back to working for a company, it’s just not the working environment for me.

    I’d rather make less money and work for myself (which thankfully is not really the case) than to deal with management again.

    It’s a shame. I actually wouldn’t mind working for a company if their policies weren’t so stupid
    – HR forms to fill out
    – Performance forms
    – Project evaluation forms
    – Dealing with 2 managers (project manager and regular manager)
    – Being asked to come in on weekends after working 60+ hour weekdays
    – Working late into the night to make it work because their project planning sucked as they wanted to do it cheaper and faster but with the same quality (!??!!)

    … I can’t deal with that crap any more.

  7. SP says:

    I have been mostly loyal. i’ve only worked at 2 companies since I graduated, and have been with my current one for 5 years. So old fashioned!

    However, it’s a big company and site, so I’ve moved around within the organization and have had worked with 4 distinct groups doing a lot of different things.

  8. lc says:

    I am definitely not a job hopper. Been with my company for 7 years and I am happy here. If a good job opportunity comes along, I might consider to leave but for now staying put.

  9. Darcy says:

    So far it’s been loyalty for me. I was with one company for four years beginning the day I left university and was fortunate enough to enter a position with a ton of growth opportunities that allowed me to earn a pair of promotions while I was there. When I eventually left that company it was almost solely because the nature of the job simply didn’t mesh with what I wanted my lifestyle to be like anymore (lengthy commute, crazy hours). I’ve now been with my current organization for three years and once again have been fortunate enough to be in a position that has challenged me and allowed me to grow enough that leaving hasn’t needed to be a very serious consideration.

  10. I’ve been at my job (first one out of school) for a little over two years, and once I hit the three year mark (most postings I look at require 3-5 years experience) I’ll consider leaving. The salary increases I’m getting a modest and although the company is a good one to work for, I don’t have much room to grow my position.

  11. SuzyB says:

    I am a job hopper, but (so far) its been because of permanent positions, work/life balance and wage increases. Since I graduated university I have worked in 4 positions each for a year at three different companies. I now manage a small team and really enjoy my job. If I would have stayed at my previous companies I would still be making entry level wages and working entry level jobs.

    I have been very lucky and spent some sleepless nights trying to determine if I should “stay put” and grind it out at the first two companies I worked for. I have friends who have stayed at companies to gain experience and they feel like they missed out on positions. If you don’t fit the experience window – still apply. Most people have one year of experience repeated over 2+ years.

    I plan on staying in my current position for awhile (everything permitting), too much “hopping” requires a lot of cardio!

  12. alexislives says:

    I got my dream job a year ago, so I hope to be there for several years :). Before that, I was a college student and had 3-4 part time jobs ranging from working at an ice cream shop to working at a suMmer camp. I have one part time job I freelanced at 10 years after I got the job.

  13. Thomas says:

    I use to job hop simply because I didn’t know what I wanted to do in the beginning. I always felt out of place. Then I started learning digital marketing and SEO and got my first job. Within this industry I found it very common to out grow your position in a few months as things are always changing. The only way to get increases would be to leave. I would always stay at a company for at least a year and to see what the yearly review would bring. Now I just said forget it all and start my own business so I don’t need to worry about salary increases.

  14. Ally says:

    I’m a job hopper. Here are the jobs I’ve held since 2001:

    Grocery Store Stocker – 2 months
    Student Worker at the University – 2 months as secretary in business department, transferred 1/2 way through semester – 2 months as meteorology assistant (my major was meteorology but I graduated with a degree in geography)
    Dishwasher – 2 months – worst job ever!
    Museum Guide – 3 1/2 months – best job ever (if you don’t mind giving up your weekends)!
    Graphic Designer – 2 months
    Self-employed – Data Entry for Rebate Processing – 1 1/2 years
    Stocker at Target – 2 months
    Working for myself doing internet marketing, blogging, writing, graphic design – 5 years

    If you don’t count the time that I’ve been self-employed, my longest job was 3 1/2 months which was the summer after my freshman year of college. I worked on the Indian reservation as a museum guide/gift shop attendant. It was one of my favorite jobs because I was the only non-native hired that summer so I learned a lot from my co-workers. They taught me some Ojibway, I got to attend the pow-wows and we had traditional Native American food for lunch every day. I can’t imagine being at a job for more than 6 months. I get totally bored after a month at the same job. I love being self-employed because I get to do whatever I want. If I get bored, then I can try something else. I can even take a few months off and still make money as my business pretty much runs itself.

  15. graduatingfromdebt says:

    I’ve had many jobs since I graduated college but I have been with my current job for the 3 years. Really the other jobs were not really career and in my current position I am lucky enough that I can get salary increases every 6 months.

  16. I had many jobs during college and graduate school… I hope my job hopping days are over.

  17. Gary@Gajizmo says:

    I agree that job hopping isn’t ideal, but when you are more established and in demand, sometimes it’s the best way to drastically increase your income in a short period of time. In the end, my philosophy is: business is business. If a business thinks the value you bring to the organization outweighs your cost (salary, benefits, etc.), they hire you. If that figure ever goes negative, you get laid off or fired. I think employees should have the same stance. Using this, my dad was able to double his salary in a 5 year span, but then again, that was 20 years into his career. Most young adults just don’t have that demand yet, unless they are absolute super-stars.

  18. I was a total job hooper for about 8 years. Now I’m learning to stay put. I really was job hopping to nowhere.

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