QUESTION: I have to change my job to enhance my career.
FACT: This, If done frequently and in an unfocused way, might derail your career.
People change jobs to enhance their career. A new job certainly helps in widening one’s network. It helps in learning about new work cultures and adapting to them. Exposure to different management styles provides new experiences. Moving to a new job will also take you
out of your comfort zone and instill a sense of urgency to prove yourself in a new work environment. New work-related skills, which may not have been possible in the previous company, can be learnt, Moreover, exposure to additional data points will help in realizing one’s strengths and weaknesses.
People do think a lot before making any job change. Sometimes, the decision is based purely. on considerations of salary or designation, and not at all on whether the new job will help you attain your long-term career goal. Sometimes, a person makes frequent job changes as he believes that, with each change, he will get a better salary, Frequent changes can be due to one’s not being able to adjust to the work environment or to not being able to contribute well. Jobs are changed also because of pressure from friends, family or a previous manager.
Hiring managers, confronted with candidates with a record of frequent job-hops, might level them ‘unstable’ and not proceed with the selection process. The normal expectation is for someone to stay in a job for a reasonable period of time (depending upon the type of industry) so as to get exposure in the full lifecycle of a project. But if a person does not do that, his experience and skills are considered superficial; besides, over time, he might be found unsuitable for handling a higher responsibility. He could also be considered a fence-sitter looking only for the next change.
It is all right to have frequent job changes if the rationale is intelligently thought through and produces positive outcomes. But usually, when a person leaves a job, he is either ‘running away’ from something or ‘running towards’ something. What an interview panel is looking for is a candidate who is ready to run towards the next challenge; it won’t have anything to do with a candidate who has run away from a difficult situation in his previous job.
WHAT CAN YOU DO AS THE EMPLOYEE? You should undertake the job change that fits in with your career plan. There is no harm in joining a new company, but you must also have the guts to rectify the decision if it turns out be wrong. At the interview stage, it’s important that you have coherent reasons to explain your decision to opt for a job change. Most importantly, you need to convince the interviewers that you are passionate about the new opportunity and that it matches your career plan. If they are convinced, then frequent job-hops will not be a handicap.
WHAT CAN YOU DO AS THE MANAGER? If you like the skills of a candidate, then you should proceed with the interview process; but you have also got to be confident that the candidate will stick to the new job. As a hiring manager, you need to understand the various circumstances under which the candidate had opted for job changes. If in doubt, you should consult other panel members in order to ascertain the consistency in response. There may be circumstances that were not under the candidate’s control (for example, a project getting shut down, a company closing, a project moving to another place), and you should not penalize the candidate for this. If doubts still persist, it is better to complete a proper reference check to clear matters.