How Often You Should Really Switch Jobs

April 15th 2016

Laura Donovan

Job hopping is often viewed as a major red flag to prospective employers, but one highly successful businesswoman asserts that moving around every few years is a smart career move.

Penelope Trunk Twitter

Penelope Trunk, a self-described "serial entrepreneur" and the co-founder of online learning platform Quistic, made a strong case for frequent job hopping on her blog in 2007, and relayed the same sentiment in a recent interview with Fast Company. Trunk said that changing jobs every three years teaches people how to get a job quickly, meaning those who stay at a job for a longer period of time could have a harder time achieving career stability.

"You’re just completely dependent on the place that you work as if it’s 1950, and you’re going to get a gold watch at the end of a 50-year term at your company," Trunk told the publication, adding that a person's learning curve "pretty much flattens" after three years.

job interview

Patty McCord, who worked as chief talent officer of Netflix for more than a decade, agreed that it's valuable to switch jobs every three to four years.

"You build skills faster when changing companies because of the learning curve," McCord told Fast Company.

Why young people job hop.

As ATTN: noted last year, young people often get a bad rap for switching jobs regularly, but there are many reasons young people move around. Student loan debt is out of control, leading some people to seek out higher paying opportunities. Young people also make less money than people in the 1980s with the same degrees did at the same age, and many feel that company loyalty is dead.

millennials change jobs

Melissa Murray Bailey, president of the Americas for global employer branding company Universum, told The Washington Post in 2014 that there is less incentive to stay loyal to a company now than during the Baby Boomer era.

“In the Baby Boomer generation, everybody had pensions, and that really facilitated lifelong commitments to a company," Murray Bailey said. “As companies have done less and less of that, there really is less of a mutual expectation that people will make that commitment.”

Konrad Mugglestone, a policy analyst for youth empowerment nonprofit the Young Invincibles, told The Post that research conducted by his group found that young people are keeping jobs, but receiving lower wages. In addition, they often aren't getting a chance to move up at their companies.

“The data shows that millennials are taking jobs and keeping them,” he said. “But unfortunately, the jobs they’re taking are the ones that don’t offer high wages, and they don’t offer opportunities to grow.”

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