Trends: job-hopping

Recent Investors in People (IiP) research among 1,600 employers found that nearly a quarter of UK staff expect to spend a year or less in their job, and almost half plan to move on within less than three years.

Ruth Spellman, chief executive of IiP, says job-hopping is a growing issue for employers. “They should be doing all they can to motivate employees to stay and continue contributing to the organisation,” she says.

Transient workers may be causing retention headaches for employers, but can job-hopping be positive for your career?

Lynne Hardman, managing director of Hays Human Resources, confirms that there comes a point when it is healthy to move on.

“If you have been with one employer for 10 years or more and have only progressed from, say, HR officer to HR manager, then that doesn’t look good. To feel stretched, most HR practitioners tend to move on every five years or so. By moving to a different organisation, perhaps in a new sector, you can fill knowledge gaps,” she says.

Hardman recommends taking on different roles that allow you to specialise in new areas, such as organisational development or reward. “This can be a real CV strengthener,” she says.

However, it is all about timing. If you move too quickly and too frequently, it could be CV suicide.

Matthew Reeney, a director at recruitment company Jam HR Solutions, says his clients don’t view job-hopping too favourably.

“Anyone who has done a number of stints of less than two years looks fidgety. Employers are increasingly asking why candidates moved not just from their last job, but three jobs back,” he says.

Being made redundant a number of times can also make employers suspicious. “Redundancy can often be used as a smoke screen to get rid of staff, so we always check out the company and find out the reasons behind the decision,” Reeney adds.

Alan Warner, director of people and property at Hertfordshire County Council, says that to do their jobs well, HR staff must understand the organisation they work for inside out. “They need to stay in their role for a decent amount of time to achieve this. This also helps build loyalty so you care about what you are doing,” he says.

Warner advises that if you are in a junior HR role, it’s acceptable to move on after two or three years, but if you have a senior position, it’s best to stick at it for at least three to five years.

“You need to give yourself the chance to learn the job, which can take at least six months, and then learn how to do it effectively, which takes at least another two years,” he says.


Pros and cons of job-hopping


  • You can gain experience of different organisations and working cultures.
  • Enables you to build specialist knowledge in more than one area.
  • Your role stays fresh so you don’t stagnate.


  • Employers may think you lack loyalty and staying power.
  • You may not have sufficient time to shine in any one organisation.
  • Lack of organisational knowledge can make you less effective in your job.

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