The pros and cons of job hopping: does it help career progression?

More and more workers (especially young people) hop from one job to another: these are the effects

If this article had a soundtrack, it would definitely be “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash. Job Hopping, the trend started in the USA which is now widespread even in Italy, is seeing more and more workers (especially young workers) hopping from one job to another. Why? There are numerous reasons. The generational issue is definitely the most important one. The most hardened hoppers are especially the Millennials, born between 1982 and 1995, who, unlike the Baby Boomers (those born between the 40s and the 60s), are not so tied to the concept of “professional longevity”. According to research conducted by Deloitte on more than 10,500 millennials, 43% said they were willing to change jobs every two years and only 28% said they were willing to stay in the same company for at least five years. And the percentages are even higher for those who are younger: 61% of the so-called Generation Z (born between 1995 and 2010), say they want to change jobs at least once every two years. So to speak of imposed job insecurity is misleading. We are in the age (also) of sought-after flexibility.

But what motivates job hoppers? It’s undeniable, economic issues are paramount. Changing jobs within a couple of years can increase your salary by up to 30%, so much so that, according to a LinkedIn study, 74% of the Millennials who recently changed jobs did so by bringing home a decent salary increase. However, it’s not just the pay check. The same LinkedIn research shows that the “character/value” component is also strong. Over 1 Millennial out of 2 changes jobs to seek new opportunities for professional growth, which they fear they may not be able to achieve by staying longer in their previous role. In short, few believe in internal career boosts. As a result, loyalty to the company you work for is seen as an overrated value. Instead, the search for new challenges is preferred, even if it means moving to another country (also due to the fact that the percentage of young people with matrimonial ties or private homes is very low). Furthermore, there is the attraction of possibly amassing your network. The network of contacts is, in fact, the real “black gold” of the contemporary world of work. Most job hoppers, not surprisingly, achieve new career goals thanks to the colleagues met during the various “hops”.

But that’s not all: ethics also makes the difference. Exactly, ethics. According to Deloitte, feeling in line with the corporate culture is – after the economic consideration – the second reason why an employee might decide to stay longer in a company. Hypocritical? Not exactly. The Millennials interviewed explain that even though pay is important, so too is being able to work for a company that values their resources. In short, companies should “share the wealth” with their workers, for example with welfare and wellbeing programs. So we’ve covered the main reasons behind Job Hopping, but the key question remains: does hopping from one job to another really help your career progression? In the United States, where the Millennials change nearly 2.85 jobs in the first 5 years after graduation, compared to an average of 1.6 in the previous generation, and where there are 6.5 million job vacancies compared to 6 million unemployed, it seems that the answer is yes. In Italy, with a less flexible labour market and the youth unemployment rate at 32.8% (February 2019), the correlation may not be as positive. What is certain is that compared to the past, a wobbly curriculum is seen less unfavourably, provided that the candidate sells their choices, highlighting how, by hopping from one job to another, they have increased their relational abilities and skills. Accruing more experiences, seeing more business areas and facing different challenges can only be an added value, as long as the worker knows – really – where they are going. Thus avoiding having to face every new day while humming “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”.


Silvia Pagliuca

Silvia Pagliuca Giornalista professionista e Comunicatore pubblico, è laureata in scienze e tecnologie della comunicazione, con Master in management della comunicazione sociale, politica e istituzionale e Master in giornalismo presso il campus IULM - Mediaset. Scrive di lavoro, startup, innovazione e imprenditoria per Corriere della Sera, Corriere Imprese e Corriere del Trentino. Collabora come copywriter e consulente in comunicazione per diverse realtà pubbliche e private.