Job hopping can be the best thing you do for your career - if you do it right.

It’s the tendency that’s given millennials a bad name. We can’t stick to anything. Labels are the enemy and everything is ‘fluid’. We have no money. Can’t buy a house. And why do we keep job hopping? 

My parents, luckily for me, have been very supportive of the decisions I’ve made… They’ve been supportive again, when I’ve turned around and done the complete opposite to the very thing I was absolutely convinced I had to do.

Changing my mind is my biggest constant.

I changed my mind half way through a physiotherapy degree, deciding I wanted to be a journalist instead. My parents smiled and agreed that anatomy wasn’t my strong suit. My mum took a sip of her wine and we talked about the possibilities ahead.

Their belief in me has never faltered through the job changes, and “what if I did this instead?” and “what do you think about taking my career here?” and “I’ve always wanted to study marine biology” and “do you think I should become a campaigner for animal rights?”

Certainly, I am lucky and privileged to be in a position where I do have choices. But my situation, and my habit of chopping and changing and exploring new ideas and then returning to old ones, is very normal for my generation. We are the overwhelmed-with-options, can’t-make-a-decision-to-save-ourselves millennials.

But this might not be a bad thing… Companies, finally, are catching on.

Attitudes are slowly changing and maybe, just maybe, our constant searching and switching and changing again might be seen as a good thing by prospective employers.

John O’Neill, the Assistant Dean of Career Education for Stanford University in California in the U.S. told The New York Times last Thursday that job hopping straight after graduating university is no longer so frowned upon by potential employers. (Thank God). 

“Nowadays it’s not as negative as it once was to move on to new job opportunities,” said O’Neill said. “It’s expected that people will move on to new opportunities, especially earlier in their career.”


The Managing Director of Career and Professional Development at Harvard Business School in Boston, Kristen Fitzpatrick, agreed: “It’s just so much less common to stay. There’s no right or wrong.”

But then we come to the reasons.

You need to be able to answer the inevitable questions of the scary interviewer behind the shiny desk.”Why is your resume five pages long?” “Why have you had six jobs in the three years since university?” “What are your reasons for leaving your previous employer?”

According to O’Neill, there are certain values we should be looking for in our current jobs. If these values aren’t being met, that’s a valid reason for moving on.

Fitzpatrick says being able to stay and succeed in a job despite a difficult boss is more impressive than upping and leaving at the first sign of conflict. “That’s where you need to pause and ensure you’re doing it for the right reasons, not because you’re feeling conflict or afraid to confront what’s within that might be driving the problem,” she said.

Our work should be challenging. We should be learning new skills, working with a mentor. There should be forward projection in the company. And we should have some degree of work-life balance. “If you feel like your current opportunity isn’t meeting those values, it might be time to move on,” O’Neill said.

That sure sounds better, more professional than, “I just feel like a change”. Note to self.

On top of all this good news for millennials who are looking to make their next move, a 2014 study found those who changed jobs regularly in the years following university attracted higher pay later in their careers. Job hopping early on is meant to help you find your “niche” or true passion, leading to increased productivity and a greater chance of promotion.

Hear that Mum and Dad?  My bamboozling resume just might lead to more money and better opportunities in the long run… I just have to have my reasons ready. Phew.