Changing jobs – how “frequently” is “too frequently”?

Thursday, September 18th, 2008 - career management, career planning, Job Application, Job Interview

Frequent Job Changing

Secretary of Change: Minister of Change - Inchoate Fear Avoidment
Creative Commons License photo credit: Wonderlane

John asks: I have changed jobs thrice in the last twelve years. In the last job I lasted for a little under two years. When I wanted to leave the last place I couldn’t seem to impress upon prospective new employers that it was fair enough time to learn and move on. Ironically, many of those who interviewed me have themselves switched jobs every 6 or 7 months. Is there a safe minimum period of service before one should consider a switch? Are there double standard in hiring? I am serving my ‘notice period’ with my current employer and will move to a new place by the end of this month.

In answer:
The normal in post period for most jobs would be between 18months and 4 years, to be able to integrate, learn and be productive. There are norms where less is OK, such as in software project work; and there are norm’s where longer would be considered better, such construction project management.

It sounds like you failed to communicate a reason for wanting to change posts and apply for a new opportunity in interview, as opposed to the answer given to you that you had changed jobs too often. In the whole job application process, employers look for skills AND fit – anything that gives them any doubt in either area to resultantly deliver, often leads to an “unsuitable for us” and resultant exclusion from the process.

In an interview, trained HR interviewers focus on the gap between job posts: what were you doing, why did you want to move/change, why do you choose to go where you did? While the manager that is seeking to employ focuses on the skills in job, the HR manager seeks to understand motivation and career management. If you can’t show logical and managed career management, although you may have the best skill set in the world for the job you will be seen by the HR manager as a risked choice, and hence be excluded.

You say in your own profile: Extensive experience in Promoting and Marketing International Education & Qualifications in India. It sounds like a 12months+ time scale before you could see results, and 6 months of planning before that – leaving only 6months fully in post. That’s how an HR manager will see it, and that’s why you need to be able to answer the “why” questioning on moving to the next position.

The only question you have to ask when managing your own career is: what will this result in adding to my CV/Resume, that makes me more employable/more satisfied and higher paid? If you can’t answer that, then when the question does come up don’t be surprised if you don’t get the next “desired” job.

Good Luck!

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John replies: though you hurt my ego a bit, and my gut reaction was to call you names. But on reflection, I think you told me what I must hear and not what I wanted to hear. By referring back to my profile you convinced me that you really know what you were writing back about. Thank you once again and happy answering




Thanks for your message. My sincere apologies for any hurt I caused you.

There is an undoubted “art” to career management and job hunting, and – unfortunately – candidates need to hear how to become accustomed to that art quickly to be successful in job hunting.

You have great skills and very human scale capabilities, so I am sure you will be successful. To deliver that great career you want, always be thinking: what does this do for my CV?

If ever you think I can help you, please – just ask!

With Best Regards,

Ian McA

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