Between the ages of 20 and 30, most people have more than 8 jobs. This is a positive thing for a number of reasons. First of all, Daniel Gilbert, psychologist at Harvard, says that we really don't know what we'll like until we try it. So having a lot of jobs when you start your adult life is a good way to figure out what to do with your adult life.
But, job hopping is a good thing for everyone to do – not just twentysomethings – because it's a way to maintain passion in your work. Frequent changes keep your learning curve high and your challenges fresh. Finally, frequent job hopping, coupled with high performance allows you to build a professional network much faster than someone who stays in one position over a long period of time. And a vibrant network will make finding jobs easier, so job hopping will not be a difficult path.
Human resource people complain a lot about job hopping. They say companies would rather hire someone who stays a long time at companies because that will mean the person will stay a long time at their company. Of course this is true.
It's clear that job hopping benefits the employee, not the employer. But when the majority of young people are job hopping, and companies are having a hard time attracting young people to work recruiters don't have the luxury of writing people off just because they job hopped. Recruiters write people off because their resume looks like they won't contribute enough to the company.
So, the trick with job hopping is to make sure your resume always shows that you make a huge contribution wherever you go. That can be independent of job duration. You can show that you are loyal to a company by exceeding their expectations with your outstanding performance. Loyalty is about delivery. Show that on your resume, the same place you show job hopping.
A resume is not a laundry list of job and duties. It's a document about a story. You resume needs to show the story of a person who contributes in large ways wherever you go.
Think about this. Someone wrote a great SuperBowl ad, then six months later went to Nike and launched a new shoe that's a success, and a year later went to Google and rebranded some of their software to increase user base 50%. Most people would not care that this person was job hopping. Most people would want to hire this person, even if he only stayed a little bit.
Of course, most of you don't have such enormous accomplishments, but you probably do have accomplishments. And you do have a story about how you chose to leave when you did. When I explained my own job hopping, I talked about how I went to companies, launched great, successful software products, and then moved on. I never felt the job hopping held me back, though I always had to explain it in interviews.
That's the thing about job hopping. People want to hear an explanation that makes sense. They don't want to hear you failed, or didn't get along with people, or have no attention span. Not every job will be the pinnacle of success, but a good resume writer can make every job look like it was some sort of success, and that your level of success increased with each hop, because with each hop you got more responsibility.
I know that a lot of you hop because you don't know what to do with yourself. But you'll probably be able to find some consistent string running throughout all your jobs. Maybe it was customer service, maybe all your jobs were sports-related, you'll have to figure out the story. But a good story weaves everything together into something linear, and, if you're lucky, it'll point you toward what you should do next.