Is Being A Job Hopper A Red Flag In Tech?

by | Career Growth, Finding A Job, Resumes & LinkedIn

Many tech professionals worry about switching roles too often and being labeled a “job hopper.” Yet, job hopping looks different when you work in the tech industry, and it’s often necessary if you want to secure more responsibility and additional pay.

Continue reading to learn about the nuances of job hopping in tech, including what it means to be a job hopper, how long you should stay in a role before hopping, and whether frequently switching roles is a red flag in tech.

What Is A Job Hopper?

For starters, what qualifies as a “job hopper” in the tech industry? While definitions vary, many consider the act of staying in a role for less than a year to be “job hopping.” Others are more stringent and see staying in roles for less than two years to be job hopping.

However, as a tech career coach, I find sentiments surrounding job hoppers are rapidly changing, particularly in the tech industry, as more workers are job hopping than in previous years and generations.

How Long Should I Stay At A Job Before Hopping?

Since the definition of a “job hopper” varies from person to person, it can be challenging to decide how long you should stay in a role before moving to your next tech company.

And, of course, there are factors such as your functional area, positions, and job level that will impact the typical length of employment. With product management, for instance, it’s not unusual to switch jobs every 18 to 24 months.

Additionally, if you land a new role and hate it or are in a toxic work environment, you might want to start your job search much sooner.

All that said, I typically recommend trying to stick in a role for at least 12 months before moving on to your next venture.

Is Job Hopping A Red Flag?

Speaking of which, job hopping used to be considered a red flag for many recruiters and hiring managers, even in the tech industry. However, the Great Resignation, followed by Big Tech layoffs, helped shift how people perceive shorter employment stints on your resume.

More tech employers are recognizing that workers are leaving roles to care for a family member, put their mental health first, or try to create a semblance of work-life balance.

Do Employers Care If You Job Hop?

Both tech companies and their individual hiring managers vary when it comes to how they view job hoppers. One or two short stints won’t necessarily raise concerns with a prospective employer, particularly when targeting roles in the tech industry. In fact, the tech and media industry has the second-highest turnover rate, according to data from LinkedIn.

However, if you are consistently staying at companies for less than a year, you’ll want to be ready to explain your work history during the interview process.

[Read: How To Answer, “Walk Me Through Your Resume” (With Example)]

Do Job Hoppers Make More Money?

Job hopping can result in a larger salary, which is one of the primary reasons workers switch employers. Unfortunately, many tech companies only give modest annual cost of living adjustment increases, so moving to a new company can be necessary if you want to significantly increase your salary.

That said, job hopping doesn’t always guarantee you more pay, especially when you consider how equity and vesting work at many companies. Consequently, you’ll want to think about your total compensation package when assessing the cost-benefit ratio of job hopping.

[Read: How To Ask For A Raise When You Are Underpaid]

Is Job Hopping Good For Your Career?

If you’re not getting the visibility and access you want in your current role, you can job hop to increase your experience and advance your career. Unfortunately, you sometimes need a new workplace to get the exposure you deserve.

Boomerang employees are particularly common in the tech industry. The process of leaving your company for a competitor, and then getting rehired later, can expedite the timeline of securing a larger title and salary and fast-track your career.

How Many Job Hops Is Too Many?

Now, at a certain point, you want to be mindful of how often you’re job hopping, as you can potentially come off as unreliable if you’re doing it too frequently.

While it’s normal to have several employers throughout your career, frequently switching jobs can be seen as a potential red flag by recruiters and hiring managers.

You can minimize red flags by preemptively addressing job hopping on your resume and LinkedIn profile. If you were laid off shortly after joining a company due to a reduction in force (RIF), for instance, you can mention this along with the percentage of the workforce impacted. Similarly, if you worked at a company that was shuttered, include this on your career documents.

Tip: If you held interim, contract, or freelance roles, be sure to mention this directly in your resume and on your LinkedIn profile. This can be as simple as listing, “Project Manager (3-Month Contract),” as it will hopefully prevent the reader from assuming you were dismissed after your first 90 days.

Regardless of the length of each job you held, your work history must be consistently listed, since inconsistent company names, position titles, and dates are major red flags to prospective employers and can cost you a job offer.

[Read: How To Explain An Employment Gap (With Examples)]

Final Thoughts On Job Hopping In Tech

Please know that there’s nothing wrong with switching jobs, and in fact, it’s sometimes necessary to protect your mental health, gain the exposure you need for your career, and secure additional pay in the tech industry.

However, if you constantly find yourself at companies and in roles that you want to quickly leave, try to uncover the root cause. You deserve to “run toward” a job you love, rather than “run away” from your current one. You’ve got this!

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

Dr. Kyle Elliott is the founder and career coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com. His expertise is in Silicon Valley and high-tech. As a result of working with Dr. Elliott, senior managers and executives have landed jobs at Meta, Amazon, Google, and nearly every other tech giant you can imagine.

A trusted career expert, Dr. Elliott’s words have been featured on Business Insider, CNBC, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Fortune, Harvard Business Review, and The New York Times, among dozens of other leading publications. He has been recognized as a Best Career & Interview Coach, Best Resume Writer for Silicon Valley/Tech Managers & Executives, and LinkedIn Top Voice (the platform’s highest honor).

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