The Costs of Job Hopping
This month’s Money Magazine featured a few stories of the unemployed looking for work. Experts were brought in to give advice on what the job seekers were doing wrong and how they could improve their prospects.
When we interview lateral attorney candidates (not new grads) at our firm, one of the first things I notice is how many different jobs the applicant has had. Call me old school, but I still value loyalty, consistency, and endurance in employees. A series of one-year or two-year employment stints suggests to me that one or more of those qualities may be lacking.
Over the years, I have become am aware of folks who have worked a job just long enough to buy a new kitchen appliance, then quit. I know of others who quit a job to go on a vacation. That reflects a certain job-hopping attitude that has real costs. Let me see if I can name a few:
1. Job-hopping bothers prospective employers. See above. Yes, it sounds so web negative 1.0 to complain about employees with short-attention spans but believe me, it’s an issue with a lot of us. Some employers will just assume that someone who cannot hold a job more than a year or two is an incurable troublemaker.
2. Job-hopping creates benefit gaps. If you depend on an employer’s health insurance benefits, each time you change jobs, there is likely to be a gap in coverage. Sometimes you can fill that gap but it’s more money out of your pocket.
3. Job-hopping impairs retirement saving. Most employee-sponsored retirement plans have a waiting period before you can enroll. Some plans have vesting provisions which cause short-timers to lose most if not all of the employer’s contributions. Perhaps the worst damage is caused by those job-hoppers who liquidate their retirement accounts at each departure (probably to live on). After taxes, penalties, and too many mornings at Starbucks not looking for work, that money goes quickly. Starting over at ground zero on retirement savings is not a good strategy.
4. Job-hoppers lack the experience factor. Someone who has been in the workforce for ten years – with six jobs – does not in my mind have ten years of experience (unless it’s flipping burgers or changing tires). I would much prefer a candidate with in-depth experience at one or two jobs.
5. Job-hoppers don’t engender employer loyalty. If conditions deteriorate in a small business, the veteran employees are more likely to be in a better position at downsize time. The boss may think that the job-hopper is fond of short employments and will pass the pink slip in that direction accordingly. In the workplace, what goes around, comes around. Similarly, a short-timer is less likely to be promoted or given a key assignment.
So readers, am I right on this? Or can you turn this around on me and tell us how job-hopping can be a good thing.
Full disclosure: Mr. ToughMoneyLove has had three different employers in 36 years as a working adult.
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