According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median number of years workers stay at a given job is only 4.6, which allows them to rack up as many as 10 gigs in a lifetime.
The problem: Many employers still see job hopping as a deal breaker. Nearly 40% of recruiters and hiring managers say that a history of hopping is the single biggest obstacle for job-seekers, according to a recent survey conducted by recruiting software company Bullhorn.
We found four serial job hoppers who were willing to dish about their adventures in the labor market. Then we asked a crack squad of career experts for advice on how these hoppers can find a gig that will make them want to stick around.
A few months ago, Jay Mehta was laid off from his latest IT job in Dallas, along with a handful of other employees, because of budget cuts. “The difference is that those guys have been working for the same two or three companies for the last 14 years and didn’t see it coming—I’ve worked for 10 places,” Mehta says, who has been laid off twice, including from his last gig.
RELATED: How to Explain Why You Were Laid Off
Mehta wasn’t always a job hopper. For the first eight years of his professional life, he worked for just two different companies. “I thought that promotions were deserved after a lot of hard work and employer loyalty,” he says. “But I was wrong.” In those two jobs, Mehta’s salary increased only marginally, and he couldn’t seem to save enough money. Then, in January 2002, he was laid off due to downsizing.
Mehta struggled for an entire year looking for another full-time job in IT and the experience changed his outlook on employment. ”I figured it wouldn’t be long before something like that would happen again. Although I wasn’t sure when the next economic slowdown would come, I knew that I wanted to be debt-free and ready for it before I ever got laid off again,” he says.
RELATED: The ‘I-Just-Got-Laid-Off’ Drill
So Mehta shifted his loyalty toward making money, rather than to any one company–switching jobs eight times in the next six years. “I gained a lot by virtue of job changes,” he says. “My salary has increased significantly compared to friends I know who have stayed with the same company.”