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The perils of job hopping
Old 08-07-2014, 09:28 AM   #1
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The perils of job hopping

Hi all, I am looking for some feedback on potentially "job hopping". A little about my work history to provide context.

I am 32 years old and graduated from college in 2005 at age 23. Here is my work history to date:

2005-2006 - Company 1
2006-2008 - Company 2
2008-2010 - Full time Graduate School (this included consulting projects which I have left on my resume but am considering removing or shrinking as they are not as relevant now)
2009 - Internship (summer between year 1 and 2 of grad school)
2010-2014 - Company 3 (this tenure included 2 promotions and management experience)
2014 - Present - Company 4

Company's 1 and 2 are not really relevant to my work experience at this point as my career has changed dramatically since grad school.

I fear I am getting close to job hopping if I change jobs again too soon. I left my company in 2014 because the manager I reported up through was a sociopath, and I was miserable and underpaid. The current job looked good on paper and hasn't been bad. But the work has largely been boring and the department has not had any stability. There is no strong leadership, and I do not feel challenged in what I do.

I have been with Company 4 since February and our entire team is 8 people (we are hoping to grow to 10). Since February, 4 people have left including the manager who hired me. We have a new manager coming in at month end who I am optimistic about, but it has still been a little unsettling seeing all the turnover. People have not been fired, but left of their own decision. Most of the people leaving are doing so because of work visa issues.

As you can tell the department I am in has had a lot of turnover. It is also very unorganized (it is a newer department that is still maturing) with minimal management support right now since our manager left. I believe though that this is due to my boss leaving and once a new manager is in place, this will change. The leadership over us since our manager left has been pulled in many directions and they are doing the best they can, but bottom line is there are only so many hours in a day, and I get that. That doesn't mean it isn't frustrating.

I am not convinced the work is going to turn into what I expected it to. I do feel that I am working hard and doing all I can to make the most of the job. I have received positive feedback from my manager before he left, as well as the interim manager's handling things in his absence. I have even been commended for taking a leadership role during the turnover and turmoil we have had. I just think I may have gotten the wrong impression about how much I would have liked the work when I took the position, as even with the positive feedback I am not feeling very engaged in my work.

I am also struggling with the lack of leadership. I am not someone who needs to be micromanaged, but I believe I work best in an environment where I have a strong leader with a vision that needs someone to execute on. I hate admitting that, but I think if I am being honest about my skill set that is reality.

It was by far the right decision to take this job because my old position had run its course, but I am wondering how long is it appropriate to give a new job a chance to flesh out? At what point do I just admit that the work isn't what I thought it would be and move on? If I leave in a year (give or take a few months) will I look like a job hopper? Or is it wise to let things mature a bit more over the next year due to all the change?

My plan at this point is to wait until the new manager comes in and give that at least 3-6 months to see how the department and position flesh out with new leadership as that could make a big impact. I am just thinking ahead because I would have thought by now I would have felt more comfortable in this role. I don't want to jump to conclusions though due to the turmoil we have had in the group. But at the same time I don't want to stay in a job that is boring just to stay and keep hoping I find myself more interested in the work at some point.

I welcome to any thoughts and input.
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Old 08-07-2014, 09:51 AM   #2
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My opinion:

If you are considering leaving start searching NOW. Better to have a couple months to explain than a year and a half. More important than the length of employment are promotions/development in your field.

Don't leave off jobs 1 & 2 from your resume, it shows that you were working. If the work itself isn't relevant consider whether or not there are accomplishments to mention. Otherwise dates of employment, title. Likewise the consulting projects during grad school.

Feature your work, and promotions, at Company 3.

Reason for wanting to leave Company 4, discuss during interview.
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Old 08-07-2014, 09:52 AM   #3
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With 4 years at Company 3, a potential employer might be willing to overlook your short tenure at Company 4, especially since you've got some solid, objective reasons for wanting to leave (high turnover, lack of management direction). Is your field small enough that the issues at Company 4 will be well-known? That could make it easier.

I have a niece who's a real fireball, and she's on her 3rd job since graduating college in 2008. One lasted less than a year; she realized it was a mistake and was approached by people she'd worked with before about another opportunity. She's been at her current job 2.5 years (thanks, LinkedIn!) and is making over $100K. (Her major was Marketing and she sells software to hospitals and other healthcare providers.)

So, you could do well despite a short tenure at one place. Just choose your next move carefully!
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Old 08-07-2014, 09:57 AM   #4
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You're right to be worried about appearances. While the old days of working 35 years for MegaCorp are long dead, a defensible career narrative can be eroded by a perception of hopping.

If I were you, I'd work really hard at:

1) Finding a way to stay sane and stick with this gig at least a decent way into 2015. Part of this can be...

2) Networking in your industry. Research and write about hot industry topics, allowing you to post articles on LinkedIn, build a professional Twitter presence, etc. (If you can't plausibly work this into your 9-5, do it on your own time.)

Being a sector / niche rock star, you will also be more valuable to your current firm. Who knows - a dynamic leader somewhere else within your company might discover you this way and lift you off to a better berth.

P.S. If you are already active on social media (likely given your age), you may need to forge a distinct and separate professional social identity. And I'm sure you already edit and maintain your personal social online identity so internal and external recruiters see nothing objectionable.
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Old 08-07-2014, 10:33 AM   #5
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I would not worry at all. I'm in my 40s and my resume has more jumps than yours and it's never been an issue. I'm in tech field so not sure if that matters, as it is very common.
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Old 08-07-2014, 11:19 AM   #6
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As a recruiter, know that most managers are ok with a lot of changes in companies as long as you have a good story for each. However, the recruiter/hr person may skip your résumé before even getting to the manager!

You can drop years of graduation off your résumé and drop jobs 1 and 2 and "hide" that portion of your career tract.

Your résumé is only as good as it can get you an interview. Manipulate it any way you see fit to get you in the door. (Omission is reasonable. Lying about having experience is a no no)
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Old 08-07-2014, 11:40 AM   #7
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Most former employers will not divulge any more than your start and termination date. If your first two j*bs are not relevant to your current experience nobody will know, unless you tell them. Long gaps in employment you need to be able to explain. Sounds like you have plausible explanations for your last position. As a former hiring manager, your history would not be a concern to me.

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Old 08-08-2014, 08:29 AM   #8
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Another thought on this: I used to work with a guy who would ask "If we hire this person and they don't work out, will they quit?" when we were on the fence about a candidate. His thinking was that we could take a risk on someone who would realize their mistake, cut their losses and leave. We might not want to take that chance on someone who would hang on through counseling and paper trails to the bitter end when you fire him/her.

So, when I was still employed, and I saw an applicant who had short tenure someplace but whose explanation was "I saw that it was a bad fit so I left" (with some objective reasons and minimal drama), I didn't consider that a big minus. A string of such jobs would have been.

Early in my career they were interviewing someone who had a resume of 1.5 years here, 2 years there, over about 10 years. I think his longest tenure was about 2 years. I thought that was a red flag but hey, I was only 25, what did I know? They hired him and about 4 months later he went out to lunch, leaving a resignation letter on his desk.
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Old 08-08-2014, 08:39 AM   #9
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As a person who jumped jobs many times early in my career, don't worry about it. Every two years is fine.

Technical people advance fast, much faster than Megacorps can keep up with and pay the correct salary. Early in your career, the megacorps should be giving 10%+ raises every year. But they give 2%. You need to move to get paid more.

Job jumping early in a technical career looks better in a resume than 10+ years at the same location. You have more experience and knowledge that you can bring to the table. The 10+ year guy only knows his niche, and likely was not good enough, or motivated enough, to get a job paying more.

Once you get a solid salary, it's time to stay. Lateral moves are not as 'pretty'.
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Old 08-08-2014, 09:07 AM   #10
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Once you get a solid salary, it's time to stay. Lateral moves are not as 'pretty'.
I say move when you are legitamately not challenged anymore. I am 33, on my fourth job in a eight year tech career and I feel that directly contributed to landing my latest job. You see, the company that hired me had enough with stale resources. Moving around keeps you agile which I feel a lot of companies like in a person. It shows they are willing to adapt to change which is a key component of success.

You can do anything you want, you already proved that. Now its doing what you need to do. For me and my family that means making the appropriate salary relevant to my skills and not being bored at work.

There is always a great reason why you changed jobs...just don't let your future prospective employer know those not-so-great reasons you left. Market yourself properly.

As for the resume, I would show that you were employed for jobs 1 and 2 but try to relate how you grew with those experiences...there might be directly relevant comparisons but for instance I moved from construction (framing homes) to now working on Software Development projects...to relate the two, I show the comparisons of making a mistake early in the home building process to making a mistake early in the software development and draw the comparison that both have similar consequenses in the end. I also do not include much info on the first 2 "contractor" jobs, just a one sentence blurb on my resume that I was not just a construction worker, but a leader within the construction industry.
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Old 08-08-2014, 11:01 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Klubbie View Post
Hi all, I am looking for some feedback on potentially "job hopping". A little about my work history to provide context.

I am 32 years old and graduated from college in 2005 at age 23. Here is my work history to date:

2005-2006 - Company 1
2006-2008 - Company 2
2008-2010 - Full time Graduate School (this included consulting projects which I have left on my resume but am considering removing or shrinking as they are not as relevant now)
2009 - Internship (summer between year 1 and 2 of grad school)
2010-2014 - Company 3 (this tenure included 2 promotions and management experience)
2014 - Present - Company 4
I've been hiring manager for years. This type of resume is the 1st one to throw into reject file. In my line of work (Silicon Valley engineering), people can't make serious contribution in their 1st year. Basically, we are paying 1 year salary for about 1/2 year of productivity. They have so much to learn, and adjust in the 1st year. Putting in another short stint in your resume will close the door more for companies who otherwise may consider you.

One thing you can do ... quit now and don't show the current company employment in your future resume.
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Old 08-08-2014, 01:14 PM   #12
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robinplunder's approach is smart. Apply for other jobs immediately and don't mention your current employment.
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The perils of job hopping
Old 08-08-2014, 03:11 PM   #13
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The perils of job hopping

Job hopping - adj. def. - term employers use to scare their employees from leaving. Alternative def. - noun. - closet consultant.


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The perils of job hopping
Old 08-09-2014, 08:54 AM   #14
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The perils of job hopping

I agree with Robinplunder. I would also toss your resume if I got it. As I hiring manager I've found that most recent college grads think that work should be exciting and fun all, the time, and after two years they should be promoted to CEO. They often leave their first job after two,years looking for the job where that is true. Then at the second job they figure out work is not all sunshine and butterflies, so they start to contribute. Some people never figure that out. The 4 years at company three helps, but you need to stay at least 2 years.Either get out now, and don't discuss this job, or stay for at least 3 years.
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Old 08-10-2014, 07:26 PM   #15
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I've had 9 jobs in 10 years. The longest stay was 4 years, and there was a year of travel, which means 8 jobs in 5 years.

I have no problem getting jobs in tech. It helps that many of my jobs are project-based contracts.
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Old 08-10-2014, 07:32 PM   #16
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I keep mis-reading the thread title as job hoping.
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Old 08-10-2014, 07:41 PM   #17
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DS has almost the exact same work history including grad school in the middle, 3 years, 2 years, 2 years full time grad school, 3 years (plus internship at same employer during school), and going on 1 year now. He would jump tomorrow to get a job with no travel, as they have a baby now.

I think the op stepping up leadership wise during the no-manager period at this new job is commendable and telling, if he enjoyed the experience. Maybe his company is big enough that he could move up and out of the current department?
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Old 08-12-2014, 05:57 PM   #18
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In my industry, EPC, (Engineering, Procurement, Construction), senior management is overwhelmingly populated by people who have been exceedingly disloyal to their previous employers (i.e., serial job-hoppers).

So, it's all industry-dependent.

Me, being a wage-slave with 25+ years of service at the same company, some people look at me like I have a 3rd eye growing out of my forehead ("WTF is wrong with that old guy?"). If you consider 51 as old.
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Old 08-12-2014, 08:36 PM   #19
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Thanks to everyone for the feedback. Seems to be some differing opinions with a good portion of those who have no issue with my work history being in the IT/tech industry.

Employer 3 and employer 4 on my resume are in the same industry. Both firms are large. Employer 3 was around 200K + employees and Employer 4 is 12,000 employees. There are a few other firms in the area I live in that are the same industry that are fairly large as well. So there are potential opportunities there. I can't move internally until February next year, but I haven't ruled that out as a possibility if turnover and leadership don't stabilize.

One thing I learned working at Employer 3 is that it was common practice to work at Employer 3 for a few years, leave for a year or two then come back. So there is some "back and forth" between some of the companies in the market I work in. But that said I don't want to play that game just to play it.

Quote:
As I hiring manager I've found that most recent college grads think that work should be exciting and fun all, the time, and after two years they should be promoted to CEO. They often leave their first job after two,years looking for the job where that is true. Then at the second job they figure out work is not all sunshine and butterflies, so they start to contribute. Some people never figure that out.
This is not me. In fact, the last thing I want to be is CEO. My first job out of college was my only opportunity at the time so I took it. My second job was a geographical move to take a bit of a risk. I knew it would only hold me over to grad school though as that was on my radar. If I hadn't planned to go to grad school I would have stayed there for a few more years.

I have valued career progression, but never felt or thought I was entitled to anything. My mentality is to do the best I can, work hard, contribute, and try to improve where I can.

Quote:
As a person who jumped jobs many times early in my career, don't worry about it. Every two years is fine.

Technical people advance fast, much faster than Megacorps can keep up with and pay the correct salary. Early in your career, the megacorps should be giving 10%+ raises every year. But they give 2%. You need to move to get paid more.

Job jumping early in a technical career looks better in a resume than 10+ years at the same location. You have more experience and knowledge that you can bring to the table. The 10+ year guy only knows his niche, and likely was not good enough, or motivated enough, to get a job paying more.

Once you get a solid salary, it's time to stay. Lateral moves are not as 'pretty'.
I struggle with this a bit. Money isn't everything, but it's hard for me to wrap my head around getting 1.5% raises staying put at the same company for 3-4 years. I saw it all the time at Employer 3 (and experienced it). You succeed and do well (and get the highest possible performance rating), but get rewarded with a 2-3% raise at best. There was always an excuse why there was no money for raises (even when we were making record profits every year, billions upon billions of dollars). This may be specific to the department I worked in, but it was my experience.

But then when it comes to hiring from the outside for positions the Scrooge McDuck vault of gold coins opens up and money is free flowing. I saw it all the time at Employer 3. If we tried to fill a position with an internal candidate who was getting promoted, they would get a small raise or sometimes no raise at all. Bring in someone from the outside though and they would be willing to pay that person sometimes as much as 10k more per year than the internal candidate who was more qualified than the external. But because one person is external they have more flexibility on salary. It makes no sense and demotivated a lot of people, and did not help in retaining good employees.

This is somewhat off topic, but it baffles me that companies operate like this and definitely factors into some of my decision making from a career standpoint at this stage in my career. I don't expect a large raise every year, but from what I have seen when one reaches the point where they actually do deserve a real raise (beyond 2-3%) it takes leaving a firm to do it.
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Old 08-13-2014, 12:59 AM   #20
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Have you considered just dropping Employer #1 and #2. Your resume starting at grad school, followed by 4 years with promotions is good. A short stint at current employer is explained as a bad fit and doesn't look so bad if previous position was 4 years.
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