What Are Your Thoughts On “Job Hopping”

Written By John Sonmez

In this episode, I talk about job hopping and how my thoughts about it has changed over the years.

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Full transcript:

John:               Hey, this is John Sonmez from simpleprogrammer.com. I’ve got a question for you today about job hopping.

This is something that I get asked quite a bit so I thought I would answer this question today. This question actually comes from Tyler and it’s nice and short this time. “Love the podcast. Love the blog and podcast. I was on Soft Skills Launch Team writing, talking and reviewing the book wherever I could.” Well, thanks for that, Tyler. If you’re wondering what Tyler is talking about he’s talking about my book Soft Skills. I had actually a launch team for this book where if you were signed up to my mailing list then we all wrote reviews on the same day or everyone kind of promoted it. That went extremely well. We ended getting like I think over 100 Amazon reviews, 5 star reviews in the first 2 days, so cool. Thanks for that. Thanks for everyone who participated in that that really made the book skyrocket and become a bestselling software development book in a matter of days so I appreciate that.

He says, “Quick question. In software design and development lots of the time it’s easier to get a new job than a raise. This encourages a lot of hungry developers to switch jobs every year or so. Do you think this will end up hurting these designers and developers down the road? Thanks.”

Fifteen years ago, Tyler, I probably would have said yes, but things are changing really rapidly. In fact, we’re developing into this—We had the different revolutions and we entered this information age and we’re seeing the shift between—with employment where people are really becoming less stable in jobs. We used to have these big pension plans where you used to work somewhere for 50 years, the company was like your family and then they took care of you. That’s really not the case anymore.

In fact, it’s going to kind of this extreme. We’re sort of hitting this point where we’re going almost back to the Middle Ages where people were blacksmiths and they hung up their shingle for what they did and we’re becoming more of an entrepreneurial culture where you create your own job, you define your own job. You might be freelancing working at an hourly rate or whatever, especially when you look in the US, all the healthcare laws and things like that. Employers don’t actually want to take you on any more because they don’t want to be responsible. They have more obligations. It’s forcing more people to become independent.

With all that said, what I’m getting to is that whereas before, right, jumping jobs used to be frowned upon and it still is to some degree. There’s a lot more companies that are realizing now that they’re going to have you for maybe a year or 2 at the most and some companies that if you are a specialist like I always recommend and you can come in there and do the job, hit the ground running where they don’t have to train you that they’re willing to even hire someone for 6 months worth of time, right? If you think about from the employer’s perspective you’ve got to think about what you’re trying to accomplish.

Again, if you’re with a big company that plans to have you for the next 10 to 15 years then you probably are going to spend some time training so you don’t want to see a hire turnover so you’re going to reject applicants that show that, but more and more small companies that are nimble that are growing themselves, they’re not really concerned about this. Their big concern is going to be, “Can you hit the ground running and do the job?”

What I would say with this then is if you are looking to do this kind of jump jobs and get a raise or instead of getting a raise you jump jobs to get the higher salary. Go ahead and do this, but when you do this make sure that you are applying to companies where you’re going to show them that you can hit the ground running. This is the key thing. Because if you’re applying for companies that are kind of looking for long term employees, bigger companies like the HPs and the Microsofts they’re probably not going to look at this job hopping as friendly. You can even still frame that, right? It’s all about framing.

You can still come in there and say, “Well, early in my career I did a lot of different things, I jumped to a lot of different jobs because I was trying to gain more skills and find out what kind of environment I like to work in. Your company is the one that I’ll stick with.” You can sort of give them that confidence. You can even get around that. But the key thing is going to be, from an employment perspective, is going to be do they feel like you can hit the ground running and they’re not going to have to invest in you.

The reason why job hopping is bad is because if I hire you as a developer on my team and then I spend 2 months training you and money and resources and time and then you leave 6 months later to take a higher paying job or you come back and you say, “Hey, I got this offer and now you need to pay me 10 grand a year more.” That’s bad. I end up losing money on you. If you come in for the same job and I don’t have to train you for 2 months and you’re going to hit the ground running and in fact, you’re so skilled and specialized in an area that you’re going to—by you being there for just 6 months of time you’re going to increase the skill level of all my people, all of a sudden I don’t care how long you’re there. I mean I want you to stay longer but you’re valuable to me right from the get go.

That’s the key thing is like always when you have these questions think about the economics involved for the employer. It’s not just that there’s a stigma and there may be with interviewers but you’ve got to think about the economics involved.

I’m in the boat of saying jump jobs and use that to get your pay higher and higher because you’re right, it does take longer, it is harder to get a raise at a company. There’s that old saying a prophet is not welcome in his hometown and that’s what will happen as your skills grow at a bigger company you’ll find that people will not listen to you. They’ll see you as the old person that you were, the new hire that you were when you were young and inexperienced so you might have to go somewhere else in order to gain the respect and to really increase your career.

Yep, hopefully that helps you. I think this is an interesting topic. A lot of people have debated this. Like I say, we’re going more towards an entrepreneurial thing where more and more people are entrepreneurs. More and more people are working on an at will basis and contract for hire. This is becoming less and less of an issue. It all boils down to the economics of it though. That’s really the key to think about different companies, different cultures, different economic models are going to influence what you do here.

If you have a question for me just email me at john@simpleprogrammer.com. I’d love to answer your question and don’t forget to subscribe to the channel or share this video if you think that someone else who maybe they’re struggling with—you know a compulsive job hopper. Send them the video and give them a little bit of confidence so that they don’t freak out when they apply for the next job. Take care.