Career building vs job hopping

A woman in an office
A woman in an office

For previous generations, having one employer for the duration of your working life was the norm. You’d join company X and then move vertically or horizontally within the organisation until you hopefully receive a golden handshake when you reach retirement age.

The current employment scene, however, looks very different – with far more movement between different companies. While having multiple employers over your career span has become the new normal, for some people, their rate of changing jobs is more frequent. Unfortunately, this is sometimes viewed in a negative light.

According to talent strategist at Regent Career Architects, Lerato Nxomani-Pakade, employers consider job hopping to be when an employee changes jobs within a 12-18 month period. This can be problematic for organisations.

“Companies are concerned that they will spend money training you and you may leave before the payback period. This is the period after which the value you produce for the organisation starts to exceed what they have invested in you.”

Reasons for changing jobs are complex and varied, particularly for black women. Issues such as a lack of diversity, gaslighting and racist undertones make finding a suitable workplace a long process of hope and disappointment at various employers.

To counter some of these negative perceptions, the context and understanding about job hopping need to be re- framed. This can be done by not only seeing it as a chase for a higher salary, but being about building a career that fosters growth and learning, that seeks fair compensation, and that re ects that good working environments nurture a longer tenure.

If you’ve changed jobs a lot over the past few years, here’s how to show recruiters that you’ve been a career builder and not a job hopper:

DEMONSTRATE LOYALTY WITH A DIFFERENCE

If you’ve had a number of employers over the past few years and concerns are raised about your ability to be loyal to a company, you can spin this around to be positive, says Nxomani- Pakade. “It’s important for employers to understand that there are more rigorous measures for loyalty than long tenure. In the current economic climate, an employee staying with a company for a long period can mean that they aren’t able to compete in the market. This means that your most ‘loyal’ employees, as currently understood by most employers, may not necessarily be your best. Instead, loyalty can be measured by your likelihood to encourage other talented people to apply to work at your employer, and other more nuanced loyalty considerations.”

SHOWCASE BREADTH OF KNOWLEDGE

If you’ve worked for more than one or two employers over the past decade, it means that you’re likely to have firsthand knowledge of how different organisations are incorporating technology in their business functions. And depending on the types of roles you’ve held, it may also mean you have exposure to different operating systems, tools and software.

This is all knowledge you bring with you to a new employer. In addition to these practical skills, changing jobs also conveys your personality and emotional strength, says career coach and CEO of Hesed Consulting, Vumi Msweli. “It allows you to gain vast experience of the industry and increases your ability to be flexible and adapt to different organisational cultures,” she says. It takes courage to learn everything new and different. Being willing and able to do this is testament to your inner resolve.

REVEAL CONNECTIONS AND NETWORKS YOU’VE ACQUIRED

An advantage of a history of multiple employers means you’re likely to have a vast network, Msweli explains. This can be beneficial to a company that is considering hiring you because it’s not just you they’re bringing on board, but they’ll also have access to all the people you know and have a relationship with.