How long should you wait before job hopping?

A couple of weeks ago, someone sent me a question asking what I thought is the least amount of time someone should stay at a job before having two consecutive job changes. In other words, how long should you wait before you can consider job hopping?

It’s an interesting question on a number of different levels.

First, job changes aren’t looked on as alarming to an employer as they once were. I don’t know if it’s because employers have also shown less loyalty or maybe it’s because competition for specialized skills has spiked, and there isn’t enough supply to meet the demand. In Silicon Valley, specifically, it felt like people cycled through all of the tech firms without anyone blinking at their job history.

Second, this question sounds like a new job offer is already in hand. If the future employer has already evaluated your experience and is aware of your job history, then the only thing that matters is if you think this move puts you in a better position to accelerate your career than your current position.

Even if we assume for a second that the new job offer isn’t in hand yet, it’s not uncommon to get a question on why you’re looking to leave your current position. That question will probably be asked regardless of how long you’ve been. That story may look different based on your tenure, but the key is to have a good story to tell.

Maybe you were chasing your dream job, but couldn’t afford to be unemployed for another 3 months.

Maybe your current employer underwent some drastic change via an acquisition shortly after you joined.

Maybe your significant other had an opportunity that required relocation and you decided to move too.

I would even argue that if you’re going to make a change, having the gap be as short as possible will cost you less social capital in terms of rebuilding your network because you didn’t really have time to build relationships.

There is some risk in terms of burning a bridge with that employer or the people you were going to be working with, but I’m a big believer in looking out for number one.

Nobody is going to prioritize your interests for you.

Again, it’s all about how you tell the story.

If you find yourself continuously job hopping, though, you may want to do some self-reflection to figure out what it is that you’re actually looking for. It will make it much easier for you to know once you have it.