Guest Comment: Job hopping or job stopping?

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When does the urge to find a new job become commitment-phobia? When you do it once too often, says Fairplace chief executive Michael Moran.

The job for life no longer exists. Modernisation of the world of work and the cutthroat battle for talent in the City mean staying put is often no longer an option. The old career paths have disappeared and you have to take responsibility for your career and progress.

People in the City are typically impelled to move on by three factors: development opportunities, greater responsibility and the need to widen their experience. Employees want to feel like they make a difference and are appreciated by their superiors, otherwise they will look for career progression elsewhere. But remember, every time you move you lose leverage - the people who know you, your knowledge of where to go in an organisation and your partnerships. Each time you go to a new firm, you start from scratch and have to rebuild credibility.

If you've got too many jobs on your CV, you may be pigeonholed as unstable, disloyal, or unable to work as part of a team, especially if these jobs are typically for terms of six months or less. You need to be able to show commitment. A pattern of frequent moves will begin to affect your credibility in the recruitment market. You can make one but not three mistakes. I've come across bankers with a dozen job changes in as many years on their CV - there comes a point when you start to lose credibility. Employers value loyalty, and the best growth opportunities often are internal, particularly among those firms that recognise the morale and productivity benefits of promoting from within.

In general, the optimum time to staying in a front-office banking job is about three years. However, there are two key situations in which leaping from job to job can be made to work to your advantage. They are:

· When you can demonstrate a steady career progression or a series of increasingly challenging assignments. Emphasise that you left for a role with greater responsibilities, and show how the transition has provided you with more experience and enhanced your skills.

· When things just don't work out. People worry about leaving a job after only 10 or 12 months. But the fact is that sometimes things are simply not right - and employers understand that and will appreciate your honesty if you take the time to explain your position properly. If you're in an unchallenging role that isn't developing your career, it's almost always better to look at your other options.

And even if you are 100% happy where you are and have no intention of moving in the near future, it's a good idea to peek your head over your laptop from time to time in case some interesting opportunity is in the offing. Chances are, you'll change jobs at some point and when you get serious about finding a new role, being familiar with the market will give you an advantage.

· Want to write a guest comment for eFinancialCareers? Send suggestions through to Editor@eFinancialCareers.com.

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