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  • Job Hopping: A Smart Career Strategy!

    During my 30 year career in “Corporate America”, I worked 14 years with my first employer and 16 subsequent years with 6 different employers. I increased my income and job satisfaction tremendously during the second half of my career because I changed employers proactively whenever I was able to find something better. Despite the potential for negative personal branding, job hopping was a smart strategy then and it still is today. (A future post will discuss how to avoid the stigma.)

    In those days, people referred to the “unwritten contract” between employers and the vast majority of their workers. It went something like this: Work hard, do a good job, remain loyal to us and, in return, we will reward you with cost of living raises and job security. This was a pretty good trade for employees with low career aspirations and fear-driven needs for job security. In 2001, however, employers began (figuratively) round-filing such agreements.

    Today, you will have to search long and hard to find an employer who still runs their business based upon the old school philosophy. Wake up call: It is past time for employees to respond to these employer changes. Whether you like it or not, job hopping is a career strategy that is here to stay. GenYers understand this because they have braved economic and employment upheavals for all of their professional careers! As I noted in Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!),

    To take more control over your career while you are employed, you need to periodically ask yourself “Do I want to make a proactive career change and would this be in my best interest at this time?”

    If your answer is positive to this question, then it is time to get hopping. I like to describe leaving your current gig as giving your employer the “2-week notice pink slip”. Doesn’t it sound empowering to walk into your boss’ office and let them know that you have a new job that was too good to pass up? Sit with this notion for a while… Play with it in your mind using your imagination… Feels good, huh?

    But, Richard (you are now screaming at this blog post), I don’t have a better job. I would love to make more money and work for a better company that can offer me more career opportunities. That sounds like a dream.

    OK — What’s stopping you?

    It doesn’t have to be a dream. You can make it a reality. Studies consistently find that over 50% of American workers are not satisfied with their current employment situation. Most of these unhappy people suck it up and do nothing. Instead of being proactive job hoppers, a fair share end up becoming job losers and reactive job seekers. Others make token efforts to find a new job, like posting their resumes and submitting online job applications — which generally doesn’t work. The good news about job hopping is that (1) your personal brand is more marketable while currently employed and (2) your competition is less than you think because most employed people fail to commit serious effort toward finding a better job.

    You can find the courage and effort to make a job change by coming to the conclusion that your current job is not satisfactory. You can commit the necessary effort and work hard to find something better. You can educate yourself regarding newer job search strategies and try things other than applying online, thus increasing your confidentiality and avoiding the competition of 300 other job applicants.

    The goal of my book is to dispel a multitude of career myths canonized as “conventional wisdom” in the last century. I challenge you to consider this: In the 21st century, job hopping is a smart career strategy. It is not a cure-all for all people in all situations, but it IS a cure that is used far too little in today’s economy.

    What do you think? Do you agree that job hopping is an underutilized career strategy? I’d love to hear your comments.


    Richard Kirby is an executive career consultant, speaker on career strategies, and author of Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!). Richard Kirby’s earlier experience includes managing engineering, human resources, marketing and sales teams for employers that ranged from a Fortune 100 to a VC-funded entrepreneurial startup. For the past 11 years at Executive Impact, Richard has helped hundreds of executives and professionals successfully navigate today’s transformed 21st century job market and achieve better employment for themselves. Richard’s expertise includes career assessments and goal setting, personal marketing/branding, resume enhancement, strategic networking and job interviewing, and “contrarian” job search methodologies. He is a Board Certified Coach (in career coaching) and a Certified Management Consultant (recognized by the ISO).


    Richard Kirby is a Vistage Chair (http://www.vistage.com), executive coach (http://www.executivecareerconsultant.com), and author of the book/eBook Fast Track Your Job Search (http://tinyurl.com/k39rb2u). He helps business owners improve their business operations' financial performance and helps individuals improve their career financial performance. Richard is a Board Certified Coach (BCC) in career coaching and an ISO-recognized Certified Management Consultant (CMC).

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    6 comments on “Job Hopping: A Smart Career Strategy!
    1. avatar
      Dietmar says:

      Changing jobs every 2 – 3 years can be a smart career move for employees in today’s job market. In fact, the average job does not last longer than that. However, a workplace with high personnel turnover is not a smart strategy for employers. Companies with a career plan for their employees are performing much better long-term, as was pointed out during a Project Management Institute presentation at FOSE 2013 in Washington, DC. Why? if employees see an opportunity for growth in the company or organization, they care more about doing a great job. Plus there is more continuity and planning for the future.

    2. avatar
      Richard Kirby says:

      Great comments, Dietmar. Thanks. You point out that if you can find a company that recognizes the value of employee retention and makes it a positive experience to stay, everybody can win!! I wish there were more of these companies out there.

    3. avatar
      Mark says:


      I am a retail Chain pharmacist with 17 years experience. I am currently on relief Pharmacist status after the company I work for as a Pharmacy Manager eliminated my position when they closed (Sold to Wal-Mart) 2 stand alone pharmacies without main stores. Even though I did not work for either of the 2 stand alone pharmacies they took the manager of the nearby pharmacy that was closed and put her in the store that I worked at for 8 1/2 years. I am still actively working for them but only in a relief position meaning I am not guaranteed any hours. They thanked me for my years of service and drew up a separation contract that they asked me to sign. I will be working this Saturday at a store in the chain.
      The dilemma is that I have applied and received several interviews all of which seemed to go very well however one District manager commented on my job changes and I told him the reasons for all the jobs and I also said I have been with my present employer for 8 1/2 years which is half of my career. The problem is that I am now branded as a job hopper. I have had 5 regular full time jobs during this time and 2 part time jobs the first of which was when I worked for an independent (They got bought out by a larger chain Drug store in 2000) I also worked extra for a large chain as relief since they had problems finding someone to do Relief because of the pharmacist shortage back in the late 1990’s. They (Large chain) have since rejected me too last month for the same reason (too many jobs) as the other plus they also thought I would not be a good fit yet I was a good fit 16 years earlier?. Only in 1 job did I make a mistake were I worked for 4 1/2 half years and I was fired because I failed to document/report a miss filled Rx and it was when the Pharmacy manager was on vacation. It was documented when she returned and I was fired 3 months after this when the District manager noticed the discrepancy between when the error occurred and when it was reported. He asked me why and I said I forgot to do it at the time and he gave me a written warning and then he came back at the end of the day at 7pm to fire me because (his boss)the regional manger said I should be terminated over this and not given a written warning when he documented my written warning with HR. Another problem is I took a job right after that with a company that was coming out of bankruptcy (Snyder drug) and I heard about opening for them from a recruiters phone call to me and I responded to his voice mail and talked to him and got an interview and the job. The District manager person who hired me was let go several weeks after I was hired and the new District manager later said at my termination that they will not be keeping me past the 60 day trail period (because they would have to pay the recruiter) and they fired me at 45 days into my employment because they could. With no job leads I called Rph On the Go and started working for them. Ironically after a few months I was working again through Rph on the Go for Snyder Drug and did so for many years and at many sites. The market crash of 2008 did Snyder Drug in and in January 2009 they were bought by Walgreens. Too many jobs on my Resume have now come back to haunt me because it was obviously not a problem when there was a pharmacist shortage because I could get a job across the street if I wanted to now they refuse to hire me even though I do not have any gaps in my employment history at all. I am currently working with independent pharmacy 1 to 2 days a month plus Rph on the Go 1 to 2 days a month and my former full time employer 2 to 3 days a month. I only am averaging about 12 hours a week or so since October 5th and I am really concerned and worried.


    4. avatar


      Your case is a typical example for a much-needed job consolidation on the resume. E.g., you could list the last 8.5 years as one job. In the position title you could say “XYZ Drug Acquired by Walmart, X Town, Y Town, Z Town in ABC State.” Then you summarize your duties and accomplishments for all joint assignments. No need to mention “relief pharmacist.” In an ensuing “Previous Experience” section you could say that previous assignments included work for U Drugs, V Drugs, and W Drugs. Without any dates mentioned. If it was a Temp agency, just list that agency and not all the pharmacies.

      In today’s job market, employers don’t care much about experience more than 8-10 years ago, unless it is an executive resume. Were you terminated more than 10 years ago? No need to mention that company.

      In fact, if you list jobs over 10 years ago, you could face age discrimination. A too-many-jobs statement could mean that you are actually perceived as too old.

      I believe you could benefit from a certified resume writer editing your resume. That money could be well spent.

      Why are you looking for a new job? Because your hours have been cut since the acquisition by Walmart.

      • avatar
        Mark says:


        Yes, I am only working 1 to 2 days per week now. I have been averaging about 40 to 50 hours per month. I under stand just to list the Company I have been with for 8 and 1/2 years which I did only to get rid of the now working relief. Wal-Mart will be 10 years as of October of 2014 so it is just over 9 years. Can I eliminate that one or is it required on the resume? I will also get rid of my graduation date on my Resume since Pharmacist saturated market is a potentially an age discriminating market and any job over 10 years ago will be eliminated. This will get rid of 3 jobs on my Resume and should help. will contact the career center at the unemployment office and I will see if they have any certified resume writers who can help with my Resume. Thank you for the suggestions

    5. avatar

      The unemployment office could be a starting point. They provide general advice and help with resumes. However, you will get advanced help with interviewing and resume writing from career coaches and recommended certified resume writers. Today’s hiring processes focus on quick elimination, not so much on finding hidden talent.

      Why not mention the acquisition? It would allow you to explain why you work reduced hours, which is the motivation for your job search. Anyway, chain pharmacist managers will know about the take-over and will believe you are hiding something.

      Without expert advice you won’t get into a lasting permanent position. And this is what you need at your experience level, as finding a new job gets more and more difficult as we get older.

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    1. […] a new job.” Proactive job hoppers tend to make more money and gain career satisfaction. See my previous post for more thoughts on this […]

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