How to: job hop

Why is it important?

The days when being on a progressive career path meant staying at the same company for life are long gone. Moreover, employers no longer directly link long service with loyalty.

Vodafone’s Loyalty at Work report, part of its ‘Working Nation’ research into the UK working culture, found that only 3% of employers said the number of employers an individual has worked for provided the best measure of loyalty.

Instead, they place more emphasis on ensuring that employees are engaged and committed during the time they spend with them, believing this is more likely to deliver results.

The current working climate and the switch from a manufacturing to a knowledge economy enables employees to switch jobs, disciplines and companies to broaden their experience.

“Employees are increasingly taking their pick of the jobs market as employerscontinue to battle in the ‘war for talent’,” says Karen Halford, head of resourcing and development at Vodafone UK.

“This means there is scope for employees to switch jobs with relative ease and take charge of their own progression and development at their own pace.”

That said, to be a credible job hopper or serial careerist, you must still adhere to some guiding principles if you are to be perceived as a potentially valuable employee.

Where do I start?

Think about why you want to job hop – it’s important to have the correct motivation. Is it to improve career prospects, earn more money, acquire specialist skills and knowledge, work in a nicer location or to find a better fit for your values?

These are all valid reasons, but hopping aimlessly because you’re bored or fed up will not do you or your CV any favours.

Remember, future employers will want to know why you’ve moved jobs on a regular basis and you’ll be in a stronger position if you can substantiate why. The war for talent may mean it is an employee’s market, but organisations still need to know you are worthy of investment and not going to leave at the drop of a hat.

What do I put in my CV?

One approach is to create a skills-based CV that focuses on the experience and skills you’ve gained rather than simply listing the organisations you’ve worked at chronologically. Another idea is to lead with the most relevant job for the role you are applying for.

Remember it is also important to adhere to the traditional principles of a CV as employers will want to see your employment history. Don’t be tempted to miss out jobs or years. It is perfectly acceptable to add a line about why you left each position at the bottom, and this could form a useful talking point at the interview.

“The main thing is that each position that you have held has developed a demonstrable set of skills that are relevant to the role for which you are now applying,” says Halford. “A series of short, unrelated stints at numerous employers, terminated for no particular reason, should be documented with care.”

What else can I do?

In an ideal situation, your CV will be enough to put you in the frame for the job you want, but securing the interview first – either through a referral or making contact yourself – can improve your chances. It provides an opportunity to talk through your various moves and discuss the motivation behind them before the future employer has an opportunity to pre-judge you.

Work hard at building a professional and personal network that will ensure you hear about opportunities and get your name in circulation. Attend conferences and events where you might meet future employers face-to-face. The big advantage of this is that, with insight, you can tailor your CV and highlight your most relevant skills and experience for the position.

If you only do 5 things

  1. Know what you want before you hop
  2. Verify the move will provide what you want
  3. Prepare a functional CV
  4. Establish experience and attainment targets regularly
  5. If a new role doesn’t match expectations – change

For more info

Somewhere Else You’d Rather Be by Barbara Quinn, Pearson Professional Education Momentum, £14.99, ISBN: 1843040077

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How can you be a job hopper without it looking bad on your CV?

Being a job hopper does not necessarily mean you have no direction, but make sure your CV indicates this. If you like the company you work for but not your role, ask your line manager about the possibility of filling an alternative one.

For example, at Vodafone UK, we have incorporated the 70% fit rule, which means that we do everything we can to fill job positions internally – as long as the employee possesses 70% of the experience and skills to do the job. With schemes like this, employers retain their brightest talent while employees are happier in their roles and so give more to the business. By switching roles within the same company you will find out more about your organisation, the industry in which it operates and expand your skills.

What should you avoid doing?

Hopping aimlessly. While maximising your industry experience, skills and contacts are all understandable reasons for job-hopping, unexplainable bouts of boredom are not so self-explanatory.

Are there certain sectors where job hopping is more prevalent?

Professional service firms and consultancies operate using a project-based model. The UK is regarded as a knowledge economy, which means experience is transferable, allowing job-hopping to be more viable. However, shorter employment stints are becoming more common across the board – in the Working Nation research, 65% of the employers we questioned recognise the changing nature of loyalty and say that the concept of a traditional career is redundant as far as young people are concerned.

What are your three top tips?

  • Consider alternative opportunities with your current employer.
  • Look before you leap. The grass isn’t always greener.
  • Never burn your bridges. Maintain good relationships with past employers – you never know when you may encounter them again.

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