how bad is job-hopping, really?

A reader writes:

How bad is it really to “bounce around” jobs frequently?

I’ve been practicing in my field for about five years and have had three jobs in that time – the first for about five months, the next for about two and a half years, and my current one for about a year and a half. Recently, I’ve been starting to feel unfulfilled at my current job, partly because of the pandemic (my workload has been really inconsistent), but also because the workplace in general is a lot more anti-social and older-skewing than I was originally expecting. I came from another job where there were a lot of people around my age, frequent group lunches/happy hours, etc. Here, while everyone I work with is super nice and lovely, most of them could be my parents and everyone simply sits in their office alone, not really interacting (the only plus was that this made the transition to working from home very easy for everyone).

I’ve also been thinking about my long-term goals and have concluded that staying where I currently am may not lend itself those goals. I’m an associate at a law firm doing a kind of niche work that isn’t typically valued outside of the specific field, and I know that I want to eventually go in-house with a company rather than become a law firm partner.

All of this seems to point to searching for a new job. However, I have heard time and time again that it looks bad on a resume to have bounced around a lot and was advised by someone I used to work with that I really need to stay at my current job for at least two years before moving again. I myself have judged someone’s frequent moves when evaluating potential candidates. But is this true? Will I really be hamstrung in a potential job search by not hitting an arbitrary mark of time at a job I don’t like? Should I just wait it out?

So, the deal with job-hopping is this: It’s not necessarily an absolute résumé killer, but in many fields it can make it a lot harder to get the jobs you want.

The reason for that is employers may assume that if you have a pattern of leaving jobs relatively quickly, you’ll leave them relatively quickly too. And most employers would rather not hire, train, and invest in someone who might leave before long, particularly when they could instead select a candidate whose résumé shows a pattern of sticking around for a while.

But first let’s talk about what job-hopping even is, because people have a lot of confusion about that. Job-hopping is a pattern of leaving jobs quickly — like multiple stays of one to two years each time.

People are sometimes surprised to hear that, because there’s a myth out there that if you make it to the one-year mark at a job, you can leave without any worries about job-hopping. But there’s nothing magical about the one-year mark! If you leave four jobs in a row after 18 months each, you’re going to look pretty job-hopper-ish. So, frankly, if you’re miserable in a job, there’s no reason to stick it out for a year if you’re going to leave right after that; on a resume, there’s no real difference between ten months and, say, 14 months. It looks fairly brief either way.

Now, some caveats. It’s not a big deal to have a series of short-term jobs that were designed to be short-term, like contract roles. Job-hopping is about a pattern of quickly leaving jobs that weren’t supposed to be so short-term. It’s also not job-hopping if you’re moving around within your company — like a series of quick promotions.

What counts as job-hopping can also change as you move along in your career. Earlier in your career, it might be completely unremarkable to have, say, three jobs in five years. But when you’re more senior, moving that frequently will often look off.

And importantly, some fields are exceptions to this. There are industries (like some parts of IT) where it’s normal to move around frequently and where staying for seven years will be more unusual than always leaving after two. But those industries are rare; for most people in most fields, a pattern of moving from company to company every year or two will raise questions.

That’s largely because interviewers will wonder why you’ve moved around so often. Is it because you get bored quickly, and if so, will you get bored with the job they’re trying to fill too? Do you get asked to leave because of performance or conduct issues? Do you have unrealistic expectations about employment in general — are you a prima donna who quits over stuff that’s pretty routine or unavoidable?

And to be clear, it’s not that interviewers don’t understand that people can hit a run of bad luck. They do! For example, maybe you left a bad job after eight months because your boss was a tyrant, then got laid off from your next job after a year, then took a job that turned out to be a bait and switch so you left after a few months … none of which is your fault, but now you have a work history that raises questions. That doesn’t mean you can’t overcome it — you’re not doomed if that happens — but it does mean you’ll need to be prepared to explain the circumstances to interviewers and convince them that you’re looking for something stable now.

A pattern of short-term stays can hurt you in another way, though: In a lot of jobs, it takes time to master the role — it could be six months before you really know what you’re doing, and it could be a year or more before you’re contributing at a high level. If you leave soon after that, not only has the employer’s investment in you not paid off, but you’re unlikely to have the sort of achievements and depth of experience that help make your résumé attractive to future employers.

However, all that said, what we’re talking about here are patterns. A single short-term stay at a job isn’t a big deal. It becomes a concern when you have multiple short-term stays stacking up against each other. So … where does that leave you? I can’t speak to law specifically, and you should run this question by someone who works in law and whose judgment you trust. But as general advice, I’d say your pattern so far (five months, two and a half years, and now one and a half years) isn’t the worst, but it’s not ideal. We’ll call it borderline. Would it be better if you stayed two full years? Yes. Would three years be even better? Yes. But while this kind of stability matters, it’s not the only consideration to weigh. Other things matter too, like your quality of life and overall happiness, and whether more time doing this specific work will help with your longer-term goals or not. You’ve got to look at all these factors together and decide what trade-offs you’re willing to make and how much risk and benefit there is to each option.

And if you do end up with what looks like a pattern of job-hopping on your résumé, you’ll still find work; it’s not like you’ll never get hired again! But what happens is that it can increasingly limit your options. The best and most competitive jobs have so many people applying for them that employers often won’t choose to take a risk on someone without a stable job history — which means it can get harder over time to land the jobs you want. You’ll land something! But it’ll impact your options.

One thing to be very aware of, though: If you do move on from this job before, say, three years, you should be really, really confident that you’ll stay at the next job for a few years. If you end up leaving that one after a relatively short time, at that point you’ll pretty definitely have set a pattern that makes you more likely to have trouble the next time you’re searching. So vet the next job well and make sure you’re comfortable committing to stay there for a while.

Good luck!

Originally published at New York Magazine.

{ 194 comments… read them below }

  1. Taryn*

    I haven’t read Alison’s response yet, but I feel like I’d be a lot more concerned if every job was 5 months, as opposed to 5 months, 2.5 years, and 1.5+ years (because it will take some time to find a new job, I’m sure!). I think as long as she can explain the why behind leaving a job (which, for her current role, I think she certainly can, especially leaning into the fact that she doesn’t think the niche work she’s doing will do anything for her long term goals) she should be totally fine with this track record.

    1. Taryn*

      Ok, so I just read Alison’s response, and it was pretty eye opening for me. I personally have stayed at the majority of my professional roles for 3+ years each, but I definitely subscribed to the “1 year+ per job isn’t job hopping” mindset. This was good food for thought, and I am definitely reflecting on my own opinions now.

      1. MapleHill*

        While every hiring manager is different, as someone who screens resumes for many managers, I can tell you Alison’s advice is spot on. 1 year per job is nothing and even only 2-3 years across multiple consecutive jobs does not look good, though I might be more likely to at least talk to someone with the latter. Someone at two 1-year jobs, probably not. I do always take into considering things like timing (the recession around 08, the pandemic layoffs, etc) and relocations and imagine most good hiring managers would do the same.

        1. MassMatt*

          I think there’s a big difference if there’s progression in responsibilities. Someone who has 3 entry-level jobs in a row may be less attractive than someone who went from entry level to supervisor to manager (or whatever progression makes sense in the industry) even if the latter candidate had shorter tenures.

          Progressing beyond entry-level generally becomes harder the longer your pattern of job hopping continues. Many hiring managers will consider a year each at 3 different companies as equivalent to a year’s experience instead of 3.

          1. Colette*

            Realistically, if you’ve gone from entry level to supervisor to manager in, say, 4 years, you’re not likely to be a good manager. It’s unlikely you’d even be a competent manager. It takes time to learn how to do things well.

            1. Ben Marcus Consulting*

              I think that’s a dangerous way to look at it. Alison did a great job of explaining that it’s important to look at the context so that you can appreciate the nuance of the candidates work history. Otherwise you’re doing no better than someone that thinks you need to hit that magic year mark.

              I’ve been told that I’m a job hopper because I’ll work with an organization anywhere from 8 months to a 3 years. But I’ve built my career around a specific niche…turn around profit sinkholes and improving efficiencies. Once I’ve stabilized a business or department, I move on to the next organization. By design I’m only meant to be with them for a short, goal-specific, amount of time.

              Going from entry level to manager within 4 years might be bad or it might not. It depends on other factors. What’s the industry (or more specifically were each roles in the same industry)? What’s the management level? What’s the scope of the roles? Did they show continued progression in each role?

              If someone went from entry-level to management within 4 years but within the same organization, would you view that with more favor than someone that did the same but across two or three companies?

              I work a lot with medical practices. Upward mobility is limited by the size of the practice. Someone working for a solo-provider practice will likely see a promotion only if they join a new practice. A front desk employee may be ready to be a front desk supervisor after two years, and two years later may be ready to be a front office manager. Each step may have required a new practice and that could work to their favor, especially if the size of the practice increased with each step.

            2. NotSoAnon*

              Wow, that’s not cool to hear. I rejoined the workforce after taking time off to have a child (I’m still young and in my 20’s) so I effectively had to “restart” my career all over again. I took a fairly entry-level role and quickly moved up multiple levels in exactly a 4-year timespan. I certainly don’t consider myself incompetent and that line of thinking could really discount people who put in the work, gained the experience, and were promoted to a position that was more in line with their skillset.

        2. David*

          This doesn’t seem to account for the reality that now faces younger people like myself: if we don’t take at least 1-2 better offers in our first five years of employment we have effectively no upward mobility in either title/responsibilities or pay.

          Very few organizations effectively develop or promote internally from their entry-level positions anymore. My second “real” job ended up giving me two title bumps and three major increases in responsibility during my first year, then a 2% COLA raise three months later and a promise to review in 6 more months. I was effectively underpaid by 35% and was able to DOUBLE my compensation package by leaving after 18 months.

          The entire notion of “job-hopping” as applied to younger workers is basically a way to threaten them into accepting crappy culture or compensation, and everyone my age understands this, no matter how much we pretend there’s something to it for the benefit of older HR professionals.

          1. AnonFed*

            It depends on the organization but this isn’t usually the case for law. You usually get large raises as you become for independent.

          2. Former Retail Lifer*

            I job hopped every two to three years when I worked as a retail manager. Pay raises were capped at a certain percentage, and there was almost no chance of moving up to a better paying position. The only way I ever got a significant “raise” was by going to another company. I could have stayed 10 years in the same position at the same pay, or hopped around and got a nice pay bump every so many years. This is commonplace in retail, though. I know it’s not how most other industries work.

          3. Fitz*

            Eh, I’m a younger professional, and I disagree. I’ve been managing my new employee for almost six months now, and they won’t be proficient at all the aspects of their role until around a year in (even accounting for their potential). Considering our industry, they won’t have any notable projects for their resume for another year or so after that.
            Your second job just sounds dysfunctional to me. I agree that on average, companies spend less time and money developing young talent than they used to. But multiple job title changes for an entry level employee, barring acquisition/reorganization issues, is just bizarre. I’m not surprised that leaving earned you a large pay bump.
            Things are of course different across industries, but I get the feeling some people greatly overestimate how much they can achieve during a short tenure (in a non-contract job).

            1. Not A Girl Boss*

              Eh, I think it depends on the industry. As an engineer we actually had a saying, if you aren’t promoted at a year you’ll be shown the door.
              Its very reasonable to outgrow a job in a year for the first 3-5 years of your job as an engineer.

              1. Not A Girl Boss*

                I suppose I should add that title bumps in engineering have more to do with how much the company trusts you to make good decisions, and less about actually taking on vastly different responsibility.
                So an associate needs all work reviewed. Then you get a pay and title bump to just ‘engineer’, and you can do menial work without review, and are therefor worth much more to the company. Then you start getting into higher levels where you are reviewing the work of others or taking on more important/complex widget designs. I think a year is plenty of time to decide if someone is ready for the added responsibility in that framework.

                1. Fitz*

                  That makes sense to me, but the idea of 2+ title bumps in a year still seems outside of that expected framework. I fully admit that I’m thinking in a traditional midyear + annual evaluation sense though. I’ve also never worked on any project shorter than 6 months from ideation to completion. I 100% see how my POV could be irrelevant depending on the industry.

            2. David*

              My understanding of the data, as well as the anecdotes I hear from friends, colleagues, and professional contacts, suggests that my second employer is just barely on the dysfunctional side of normal. Most companies are like that, or perhaps a bit better or worse.

              To provide a bit of background, I work in sales engineering/technical sales. I was brought on because I had the technical background and given a pretty good salary for a non-revenue-generating, sales support position. Well, the sales side of things isn’t that hard to learn; title bump 1 (at 6 mo) was a move to a revenue-generating position, responsible for X revenue. Then bump 2 (at 9 mo) was a vertical move up that chain, responsible for 2.5X revenue. People who were brought on directly at position 1 typically made 25% more than me; people who held position 2 made about 50-60% more, but were also more experienced.

              I brought in much more than my target (~3X) in the second position, which was just barely enough to have my income match the people in the first position who brought in X, let alone all the various “experienced” folks who missed targets by bringing in 1.5-1.8X at my level.

              My manager, who had no control over this, was frank in saying that even the salary review was unlikely to get me more than a 20% bump, and that I’d probably have to actively lobby for another one after another year to really hit anything resembling my market value.

          4. Cat Tree*

            We had a saying among my group of peers – the best way to get a raise is to find a new job.

            But, there are companies out there that pay market rates, are willing to promote from within (if you’re the best candidate), and give yearly raises even on top of promotions. I’m at one now and intend to stay long term, although not in the exact same position.

            1. NotAnotherManager!*

              This is how my organization tries to deal with things – we have a strong internal training and promotion system, and raises/bonuses are given nearly every year (last year was a big tighter with the pandemic, but it was mostly the upper-level people who did not get raises and 1-3 year folks who did). It is very clear what you need to do/learn to get promoted, too, and there are examples all around of people who have moved up the ranks.

              Our HR also stays on top of market and, if things have changed, includes a market adjustment as part of the annual review process – both to ensure we’re not losing people to better pay and to make sure new hires are not being paid more than experienced people.

              1. David*

                My current employer is pretty good about this too, finally.

                But most (the vast majority, IMO) only look at direct salary costs when considering how to compensate people, and it shows in turnover/retention and work quality.

          5. Colette*

            It’s pretty common at all levels to not get significant pay raises without moving. But while job hopping solves that problem, it’s a short-term solution that can cause long-term problems.

            1. David*

              Translation: “Even if your employer is underpaying you and failing to facilitate your growth, you still shouldn’t leave because other companies will view it poorly.”

              This is, unintentionally, a ringing endorsement of my attitude above; it merely reinforces the notion that HR professionals, at management and ownership’s behest, use “job hopping” to instill fear that allows them to deliberately under-compensate workers.

          6. balanceofthemis*

            If you work in museums, and you want to move up, you have to go somewhere else. Now, a large part of this is because people get a good title and stay until they find a new job (either a promotion or at a better institution), retire or die. And sadly, even when a position does open up at your institution, it’s very unlikely they will promote from within, everyone is always looking for the next new idea and thinks you have to bring someone in from the outside to get that.

            1. MuseumNerd*

              Definitely. Although I once worked in a museum that did quite a bit of internal promotion, I don’t think that’s the norm. It was my first museum job and it definitely set me up with some unrealistic expectations! Lol. Sadly I didn’t get to stay to take advantage, as my husband is military and we moved a couple of years after I started there.

          7. TootsNYC*

            Alison did sort of speak to that. Lower-level jobs are meant to be left behind; someone who put in 1.5 years in their first two low-level jobs, with a clear movement up in some way (responsibility; size of organization) is probably not going to face any criticism.

            Hiring managers know that those aren’t jobs you stay with for that long; they don’t pay well, and you need to move up. Personally, I would worry about someone who spent 4 years in their first job. Not to the point of not hiring them, but if I hired them, I’d be looking to expand their experience.

            But it’s a powerful point that compromising your compensation early on will have a compounding effect–in the negative.

        3. JSPA*

          Depends on the sort of work. If providing true continuity is a giant aspect of clients’ loyalty to the company, then staying long enough to provide that continuity is itself a huge part of the job. (Being able to call the secretary where my investments are, and having her recognize my name, my number, and where to find the cost basis for the stock that was bought in the 1980’s means there’s no way I will ever move my investments; I pay them accordingly, and they pay her accordingly.)

          But if you’re a CPA for one storefront Tax Prep place (the sort with someone outside in a costume of Uncle Sam or Lady Liberty or a dancing dollar sign), so long as they use bog standard prep software and have a decent filing system, you can almost certainly slot in at any other equivalent job and be maximally productive there in the time it takes to learn, “here’s the bathroom, there’s the coffee maker, make sure files are backed up to drive D hourly, as from there, they automatically back up to the secure cloud server daily, and never step away from your computer without logging out.” Someone else can probably slot into your old spot equally painlessly.

          Basically, when you provide the full value of your job without guidance from day 1, the whole “but we just trained you!” issue disappears.

          1. TardyTardis*

            I’ve worked at those places and there’s a huge difference between the first year people and the second year people, having been both. The first year you can do plain old W-2s and people with Earned Income Tax Credit fairly quickly–but people with retirement income, real estate work and our town’s only day trader only become fairly easy to do the second year. Oh, and figuring when someone had to pay the ACA fine when it was still present required Talmudic skills, especially for California.

            1. JSPA*

              I could be wrong, but aren’t those transferable skills you could take to an equivalent business, in the next town over? Or that someone with experience from two towns over, where there’s another day – trader or two, could bring to your job? I’m absolutely not saying, “anybody’s any expert in the field from day one.” But once you’ve dealt with a few flavors of retirement income, there’s an equally good chance you’ll be up – to – speed when a new person walks in at the old place, or at a new place…no?

      2. Sara without an H*

        One thing I make allowances for in reviewing resumes is where the candidate seems to be in their career. I don’t really expect someone straight out of university to have stayed more than a year or so in their first position, but as their career progresses, I’d want to see evidence of greater stability.

      3. Not A Girl Boss*

        Yes, Alison’s advice stressed me out too. My recent job history is a 1 year contract, then a 3.5 year job followed by a 9 month job. I consoled myself about ‘job hopping’ to this next job (I start next week) that maybe people would understand the COVID-desperation job, and then if I stay a year at the new job, it wouldn’t look like job hopping. But now its looking like I may have to sign myself for another 3+ year stint at NextJob. Which, hopefully is awesome and fine and I won’t mind staying that long, but… its a lot of pressure.

        I also agree with what other commenters have said about job hopping for promotions/raises. I will be making more at NextJob than would have been physically possible if I’d stuck with the pre-COVID job, because they capped pay raises and did not allow ‘skipping’ seniority levels, no matter how much an employee deserved it. The only way I got my promotion to Senior JobTitle ‘ahead of schedule’ is by changing companies.

        1. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

          Contracts are a different thing though – note that on your resume that it’s a contract. Employers know that contracts are usually short-term, and it’s got nothing to do with you as an employee. A series of contracts is not the black mark a series of short FT jobs is.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              The second was 3 years, and the third was pandemic survival. In my book you’re fine.
              My context? I graduated in 1988…six months after Black Monday. Believe me I did a lot of temping & fixed-term work before hitting my stride. Resumes are more flexible than I knew at first– I eventually learned to lump all the temp jobs together to make them look like a solid decision. Alison’s advice would have gotten me to that point faster.

          1. Junior Assistant Peon*

            In my field (chemistry), contract jobs tend to be repetitive, low-level lab work without much exposure to the big picture, opportunity to contribute ideas, or freedom to use independent judgement. It can be a way for a new grad to get their foot in the door, but sometimes people get trapped in an endless loop of temporary contract jobs where they learn little other than how to run one instrument or do one analysis. It’s often through no fault of their own, like someone who’s on the autism spectrum and doesn’t interview well.

            I was asked to review resumes for a QC technician position a while back, and it was really depressing to see how many applicants had a BS or MS in chemistry followed by a string of crappy temp jobs where they gained little good experience.

    2. Aggretsuko*

      I used to work with someone who “gets bored” every 2 years and changes jobs. While she certainly seems to be good at whatever she puts her hand to, I would have reservations about hiring her, knowing that, unless 2 years in a job was something I was looking for. If I wanted a long-term person I wouldn’t pick that girl–but then again, I’ve heard her say that in the office and employers haven’t.

  2. introverted af*

    I get why all this advice exists. I get the problems that employers can see from a pattern of shorter-term employment that they reasonable assume will carry forward.

    But it is SO frustrating to think about my earnings potential as a young woman in the first 5 years of my career if I don’t continue to move jobs every 2 years. I don’t know anyone my age who took a non-tech job that doesn’t see this kind of moving between jobs as a necessity to maintain their standard of living, even in my midwest city with a relatively modest COL. I do know young people in tech jobs that are well paid and have strong future prospects by staying at their jobs for 5 years or so. But they are not the norm among my circle.

    1. merp*

      Yeeeep. I’ve had no upward options at most of my jobs. Also if a job is making me unhappy and I can get a different one, I’m going to go for it. (I also feel like if the “if I can get a different job” part works out, clearly that particular manager doesn’t mind my short stays too much?)

      I can see how it would be a problem over time but I don’t want to have to stay somewhere *simply and only* for the purpose of staying there long enough.

      1. MassMatt*

        It sounds as though you are in a field like IT where this IS considered normal. Definitely tailor the general advice to your specific situation.

      2. Gonna*

        I mean, as long as you know and accept that this is going to significantly impact you further down the line, go for it. Just, y’know, consider the short term to long term impact and account for that in your calculus. You could be happier for the next two years – but if you are then stuck in lower paying jobs with little prospect of promotion for the next ten, is that really a good trade-off? Maybe it is, for you. Just be sure to think it through.

        1. Job Hopper for sure*

          As someone currently mid-senior/senior, this hasn’t been an issue for me over the years. Some hiring managers really like a breadth of experience to gain a different perspective. If they see steady internal promotion, actual accomplishments, and a clear progression through these positions at different companies, they don’t bat an eye that you have switched companies several times.

          I’ve found it came down much more to the individual hiring manager than to the company or industry – some ask, some don’t – but if you can talk them through it, you’re fine.

    2. a clockwork lemon*

      The answer specifically carves out IT jobs as the kinds of jobs where it’s considered weirder for you to stay in a job for a long time vs jumping around. For LW’s particular case as someone in the legal field three jobs in five years means it can be unlikely that LW has even had the chance to work on a single case or deal for the entirety of its lifeycle, let alone develop the kind of expertise firms and corporations want to see from their lateral hires. People are especially not going to be impressed in this industry if you’re leaving because your colleagues are much older than you and your firm doesn’t have a party culture.

      1. TardyTardis*

        However, if the people are all older and plan to stay there for the next 20 years till they hit retirement, because they desperately need the health insurance, there won’t be much upward mobility, either. (I was one of those older people).

    3. kt*

      I have to say I think tech and data sci are different. No one will be surprised at 2 yrs/job, and yes, I think you’ll be behind tens/hundreds of thousands in compensation if you don’t move around.

      1. introverted af*

        I know tech/etc is different, but I’m not even in that. Even knowing I work in a non-profit, my compensation is such that I can’t keep up on a 3% standard raise.

    4. Spearmint*

      Others can correct me if I’m wrong, but switching jobs every 2-3 years is pretty normal early in your career when you can more frequently get promotions and raises, and no one would bat an eye at it. It’s when you’re mid-to-senior level, and it takes longer to qualify for advancement, that that would look like job hopping.

      1. HardlyLovelace*

        THANK YOU.

        I’m worried sick reading about this job-hopping stigma, even though it’s not even relevant to me anymore now that I’ve gone freelance. Still having residual anxiety about my (alternative) life prospects. And for some of us, 99% of workplaces are toxic, so leaving can be a matter of (mental health-related) life or death.

        It never crossed my mind this advice does not apply to people just out of school.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          There’s a lot of nuance. Someone newly out of school doing 2-3 years per job with increasing responsibility when they move is a very different situation than someone who is doing a sequence of less than 1 year stays at entry level positions, is very different from someone mid-career doing 2 year stints at more senior positions, is very different from a sequence of fixed-term contract positions. Having a chaotic work history in 2020/2021 will be viewed very differently than the same chaos in would have a year earlier. The main thing is how your work history compares with people at a similar level of seniority in your field.

          The toxic job thing is tricky, though. If you’ve left a sequence of jobs after a short period because the workplaces were terrible, it can be impossible for a potential employer to tell the difference between a series of toxic jobs, and series of jobs with a toxic employee. If there are candidates who are similarly qualified but less risky, they’re going to go with the safer option.

      2. Clisby*

        I would have thought the same, although I’m retired and way past my job-hopping years. I’m totally out of touch with hiring in whatever’s left of print journalism, but my first career was in newspapers. It was EXTREMELY common for someone starting out to move every 1.5-2 years to get to a bigger paper. So a brand-new grad might go to work for a weekly paper for a year, move on to a small daily paper and stay for a couple of years, move on to a larger daily paper for 3 years, move on to a much larger paper and stay longer. It was the only way to progress.

      3. Carol*

        Same–I hopped around several times early career, and then did another hop mid-career after a shorter stint–sometimes it was about the job but often it was to get paid significantly more money each time, which I never would have gotten through a raise or promotion internally.

    5. Bree*

      I feel this. May not apply to the LW in law, but I work in non-profit, and when organizations are small and budgets are tight, the only way to get a salary increase is often to move on to a bigger organization, once you get the experience under your belt to do so. I’m on my fourth organization in seven years – which includes one layoff – and could definitely look like a job hopper.

      But I’ve also more than doubled my salary in that time. Thankfully, I’m now in a role with a larger org, full pension and benefits. I’ve been here nearly three years and plan to stay for at least a few more before I (again) have to make a jump to move up. But those first few years the hops were necessary to pay rent, to be honest.

      1. PT*

        I was in non-profit for awhile (one of the, er, less-functional ones like we often see in letters here) and about 50% of the roles turned over every 18 months in our org. Sometimes it was poor hiring, sometimes it was because it was an awful job, and sometimes it was because the person wanted to be able to pay their bills for once.

        It really really depends on the nuances of your field, I think.

        1. JSPA*

          It also depends on the average turnover at the company you are leaving. If it’s known for churn (or for never promoting from its own ranks or giving raises) the short tenure is much less “on you” than if it’s known for developing people over a decade and paying decently.

          “I would have loved to stay, but they froze salaries and promotions two years ago, there’s no timeline for unfreezing them, and now there have been layoffs” is very different from, “I’m undervalued,” and “I’m undervalued” is again different from, “I get bored with the same-old, same-old, and am looking for a new challenge.”

          (There are jobs looking for people who like to parachute in and out of challenges; if you’re that person, you need to find those sorts of jobs.)

      2. Smithy*

        I would say that in nonprofits, excluding hospitals and universities, until you reach Director level – there is a more general level of sympathy for moving around. Perhaps not in periods of time less than 12 months, but in the sense that 1.5-2 years is viewed with a lot more sympathy.

      3. Nicotene*

        I sure wish I could ask companies if their positions have “employee hopped” – several jobs I’ve had lately in the nonprofit sector, I realized after I started that there were very few senior people other than the person I’d been talking to. They burned out employees pretty consistently, paid low, no raises etc. It sucks that it’s *my* record that takes the hit as a “job hopper” after two of these roles.

    6. TuesdaysAreTheWorst*

      Totally agree. I work in tech in the midwest and found that all of my friends who are high earners are at their income level because they switched jobs every two years or so. It’s really the best way to get a significant raise. Also, job hopping in tech is pretty common and most hiring committees I’ve been on aren’t concerned about it at all.

      1. IV Vine*

        Completely agreed (also for the Southwest and West Coast — I state hopped along with job hopping at the start of my career). Changing jobs the best way (sometimes the only way) to get a real salary increase. In addition, my long string of job changes because of mergers, complete company dissolutions, buy outs, fiscal layoffs, and equity acquisitions shows the inherent instability in the Tech industry. The companies that care about this are the outliers.

      2. nihil*

        I am starting to look for jobs because the tech company I worked for got bought by a bigger, less employee-friendly company, and in contrast to this LW, I feel like my 5-year stay at one job may actually be a strike against me, since tech has this culture of always chasing the next Shiny New Thing.

        I’m afraid that because I stayed in one job for 5 years, it shows that by and large I’m still working on the same software I started working on 5 years ago, which means that a lot of my experience is with technology that is, at minimum, 5 years old, which is ancient in tech terms.

        The standard reply I get when I express this worry? “No problem, just show off some of the newer technologies you’re using in your personal projects.” Dude, what? I sit and stare at a screen and think about tech for 9 hours a day. My personal projects are performance art and a relatively healthy garden, not MORE TECH. ugh.

    7. Ophelia*

      I totally agree with this! I took a pretty low-paying job after graduation and stayed there for a year before a much higher paying contract opportunity presented itself. By the time I had completed my contract and was in the process of extending, COVID hit and I was laid off. My old job offered me a position at a lower salary than I had made with the contract (but higher than the original salary I had there), and I accepted. Amazingly, almost one year later, my contract job came back to me with a full time position and a salary 20k more than I was currently making. How in the world was I supposed to say no to that? My resume looks weird now as I bounced between 2 companies a total of four times in two years, but my earnings trajectory is now on track, which honestly is the most important to me.

    8. glitter writer*


      I actually now have two 18-month jobs back-to-back on my resume (after a four-year job), because I was aggressively recruited for my current position while at the second one. On the one hand I don’t want to look unreliable in the future, so I hope my current role lasts at least a few years, but on the other hand my salary has now very literally doubled since the end of the four-year job and that’s explicitly because I took new opportunities. Remaining in place gets you 2% a year at best in my field.

      1. MassMatt*

        Yeah, that’s a frustrating reality in many organizations. One company I worked for would sometimes hire someone who left back for the same or substantially the same role at greater pay. Meanwhile people who stay got 2-4% raises. And the people moving were only sometimes top performers. What does it say about an organization that you can really only get raises by leaving?

        1. TardyTardis*

          Tell me about it–at the library they hired someone new at more than I was making after several years. That was when I left!

      2. CupcakeCounter*

        Yup. I have worked at ONE place (in over 15 years of professional jobs) that actually did decent compensation adjustments.
        I got my first one about a year in that took me to my original requested salary +4% (when I hired on I negotiated and got higher than their initial offer but not quite what I wanted. It was close enough – a solid 20% increase over what I had been making – so I still took the job since I really needed to leave where I was and, at the time, this was a perfect fit).
        Then they gave me a promotion and retro raise of about 17% two years later based on the fact that I was doing higher level work than hired for due to changing business.
        I got that last one, only about 8% but still way higher than COL/merit amounts, about a year and a half before I left. I had applied for a promotion and lost out to a very qualified candidate that was the better choice and ended up being a fantastic boss and they decided to throw some money at me hoping I wouldn’t be upset and leave. I left for other reasons and a $12k raise.

    9. chaos is a career ladder*

      Yeah, I get that Alison referenced “IT” (???) as an exception but this is literally the norm in tech. One year is the standard – and for a reason, it’s when your stock hits the vesting cliff!

      This is all part of a corporate world where all the benefits go to the employer and none of them go to the employee. Nobody gets real raises anymore (lol we get rebranded cost of living adjustments if we’re lucky). There’s no financial incentive to stay at a job for longer than a year or two, and very very strong financial incentives to switch roles – it is simply the only way that most Millennials have ever increased their salary range. This has been true for over a decade now. I cannot afford to care what some hiring managers think as long as there are other hiring managers who don’t care about how often I change jobs.

      I understand that the first paragraph is industry specific and the norms differ, but the second paragraph applies to pretty much every worker under 40.

      1. chaos is a career ladder*

        Okay fine, the last sentence was hasty. My caveat is that if you’re working in a field where most people are receiving appropriate salaries, with opportunities to advance or develop their skills or move up the ladder in some way, then it makes sense that people would expect you to stay for awhile. That’s a pretty fair bargain. And maybe that’s the case with legal practices in your area! But if you work in an industry where the only way to ever make more money or acquire more seniority or move up the ladder is to switch companies, it’s irrational to do otherwise, and a lot of other people are probably doing it too.

      2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        Ironically, the only time I ever received an annual merit increase was in my very first job out of college. After that I’ve gotten COLAs of 1% twice, and nothing in any other year. Moving out is the only way to move up.

        1. glitter writer*

          This has also held true for me in several different types of roles and organizations in the media industry. I got one substantial raise in my first job out of school, one medium raise in my second job, and otherwise never more than a 2% COLA. Several of those organizations specifically recruit for “boomerang” employees, because they know that’s how talent in this particular specialized workforce advances. You leave to get a promotion and raise, and then you come back a few years later to get the next one.

    10. Lacey*

      That kind of surprises me. I’m in the Midwest and it’s fairly typical in my area to stay for 4-7 years. I staid at my first job for 10, a former coworker was at her first employer for 15. Everywhere I’ve worked at so far has done a decent job of keeping up with COL increases.

      1. Natalie*

        A COL increase isn’t a raise, it doesn’t increase your earning potential. It is, by definition, keeping your salary the same by adjusting it for inflation.

        I’ve never worked anywhere that gave actual raises absent a promotion, and even then sometimes you have to fight for more than a couple of percentage points over the normal COLA.

          1. introverted af*

            Yes. Based on what my workplaces have given me so far, even with their COL “adjustments,” it doesn’t keep up with how much my rent goes up each year, let alone the increase in cost of any other necessity of my life.

            Let alone a raise.

          2. Natalie*

            They actually said they were trying to maintain their standard of living, not just match inflation. It’s pretty typical for your expenses to increase in the years after school without your general standard of living changing that much – that’s when people decide they would like to live without roommates, buy a house, have kids, save for retirement. That’s still roughly the same standard of living for their stage of life.

            At least for the last many decades, since WWII at least, the usual pattern for educated, white collar workers is to increase earnings *in real dollars* quite a bit during the first decade or two of their careers, and then have more steady, unchanging earnings during the middle and end of their career.

        1. MassMatt*

          One large company I worked for always CALLED them merit increases, but they were very rarely even 3% so in practice they were COLAs. And often they were given evenly across the board (again, like COLAs), it was frustrating having excellent employees and mediocre ones treated basically the same when it came to pay.

    11. Smithy*

      I think it’s worth flagging that this is a great question to include for networking when you’re early in your career. In the types of nonprofits I work at, 3-4 jobs early in your career which were all 18-24 months wouldn’t be perceived as problematic – particularly given how common it is for jobs/careers to have limited room for growth. And with nonprofits, given how salaries can fluctuate from organization to organization – it might be that overall you’ve had 4 years at a similar title but the size or overall structure of the organization made a lateral move still a growth opportunity. Essentially, being a Salesforce Assistant at a $40M organization and then being a Salesforce Assistant for a $400M organization would make CV sense.

      However, that’s my sector, and worth taking the time to ask questions about.

    12. Khatul Madame*

      It is normal for people early in their career to change jobs more often. As a manager, I am prepared for my staff in their first or second job after college to leave after 18-24 months, if only to increase their comp by more than 5-8% (example of a raise a company may give for exceptional performance). I don’t consider them lazy or complacent if they don’t move on, but usually there is something going on in the background like family or health issues, so the employee may need the time off accumulated throughout their tenure, or just take it easy with familiar work. Some stay for tuition reimbursement, but I’ve seen people forgo the tuition benefit because the new job compensated the loss or the new salary made up for it.

  3. eh230*

    As a fellow lawyer, yes, you will look like a job hopper, especially if you move to a firm for your next job. If your goal is to go in-house, why not pursue that now?

    1. RecoveringSWO*

      But also, if your initial 5 month employment was a clerkship, fellowship, or doc review, I would not consider that job when evaluating whether you’re a job hopper. If it was an associate position at a firm though, I would.

      1. ThatOnePlease*

        Agreed. Also, LW really should seek advice from trusted people in the industry. A lot of standard advice may not apply here – law firm hiring is its own beast, and moving in-house is doable but not easy.

        1. AnonFed*

          I think in house is likely going to want a bit more experience first. 5 is usually a minimum for in house, LW is right on the line.

          1. CmdrShepard4ever*

            Maybe OP is talking about more junior in house positions, but when I worked at a bigger firm, I think all the people that went in-house (they all might have become GC’s) were longstanding partners. If OP’s ultimate goal is to be an in-house GC sticking with a firm might be the way to go.

            Also going in house, I don’t think they could obtain the kind of work socialization they want. In-house counsel is kinda like HR in that they have to maintain stricter walls between them and other employees when it comes to socializing.

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          This! Legal recruiting/hiring is weird, and lawyers are weird about short tenures with other firms (clerkships being the exception). I used to deal with that on the staff side, which was silly. At five years out of school, though, a lot of places are going to want to know what your plans are and why you haven’t settled into something. Partner track is usually 7-8 years of a lot of hard work and proving yourself (and, even if that’s not your goal, it’s what law firms expect the “best-and-brightest” to be or at least say that they gunning for).

          Also, in my experience, in-house pulls a lot from mid- to senior-level associates or partners at the firms that they work with. GCs/in-house counsel aren’t typically junior associates still cutting their teeth.

          If you’re in IT or you do government contracting, a lot of short-term stints seem to be more the norm. Law is a bit old-school on that front.

    2. AnonFed*

      Conversely, I am a government attorney who was hired out of school and basically if I ever want to leave my agency I’m supposed to do it before I hit year 5 or year 10, depending on who you ask. I probably just want to park here, the benefits are just too good, but it is a bit weird to stay at a job forever that I picked at 26.

      1. MassMatt*

        If it’s a good job that you’re good at and like, then consider yourself lucky! I didn’t find that until many years later! Some never find it.

        1. AnonFed*

          Especially after how they handled the pandemic, I can’t see ever leaving. There is no way I would have survived not having childcare the past year without the increased flexibility and accommodations I was given by my agency.

      2. Joielle*

        Ha, yes. I’m in state government but same here. I clerked for a judge for a year right after law school, then spent 5 years at my first agency and decided to leave before I was stuck. Now I’ve been at my current agency for two years (started when I was 28) and I will likely stay here until I retire. I love not having to job search all the time but it is weird to think of being at the same agency for the next 30 years!

    3. Hi there*

      Yeah, this was my thought, too. I also think that if this person is 5 years out of law school, she is getting to the point in her career where it may look like her firms are saying to her, “You’re not going to make partner here, so you should look somewhere else.” That’s not good, and it could hurt her down the line.

      Also, I was really surprised to see that her concern with her current job is the social culture of the office. I’ve been a lawyer for a decade, and I worked as a law firm consultant before that. My wife is also a lawyer. I’ve worked with many legal organizations over the 15ish years of my career, and I’ve never heard of one that had the fun-happy-hour culture the OP seems to be expecting. I think she should look elsewhere for her social needs, and focus on the substance of her work.

      1. MassMatt*

        That part of the letter seemed odd to me also. I’m sure there are places that are more social but in general the legal field doesn’t seem to very party-oriented, whether at a firm or in-house counsel. Maybe she needs to look for workplace with a younger demographic?

      2. michelenyc*

        I had a friend that was told she would never make partner by her last big firm in NYC (early 2000’s); which was fine with it was never her goal. She was very lucky in that they loved her work and told her you need to look but we will keep until you find something. It took her 6 months but she found a great place.

        I was really surprised by the comment about the lack of social activity office too. I only have a couple of friends that are lawyers and they have been in practice since the mid 90’s and happy hours and lunch were definitely not an office activity for them.

        1. La la la*

          I’ve been a lawyer for 12 years- 2 firm jobs over 9 years and now in-house. One firm had zero socializing. The other had A LOT; there were regular happy hours, a firm softball team, lunches, etc. It really just depends on the firm.
          As far as the job-hopping, her resume doesn’t immediately jump out as a hopper, but she better be prepared to stay at the next one for 3+ years. If she can stick it out another year or two at her current job, she may be able to transition directly to a junior position in-house (something less than GC).

          1. Hi there*

            I’m on the East Coast. Now that you mention it, I’ve seen some job ads at firms in Colorado and the West Coast that seem a lot more laid back than what I’m used to in the East Coast and Midwest (Chicago). So maybe this is more region-dependent than I realized.

          2. Clara*

            Yeah, and even if it’s not a place where there’s a lot of formal socializing, if there are other junior and mid-level associates, you’ll have a “peer group” that can be conducive to unofficial socializing and friend groups.

    4. Bastet*

      Also in law, and dropped by to say that in the particular field of law I work in, where I live, it is very common to work at a “starter firm” for a year or 2 and move on. My first job post school, I stayed in for 2 years,and was considered “senior” because the typical turn around was about 1 year. Many firms in this area do not want someone without experience, so you start at a starter firm for crappy pay, learn, get experience, and leave. It’s accepted and even encouraged– “oh, you spent 2 years at XYZ Firm? They train well; you must have your feet wet already.” In the city I work in there are about 2 or 3 of these starter type firms, and just about everyone in this type of law started at one of them. Beyond that, some people branch out entirely and decide they don’t want to be in this type of law at all, and move again into a new practice. There are a few other firms with awful reputations, and no one is surprised when people leave.

  4. Introverted Type-A Employee*

    While it wasn’t addressed in the response, I wonder how much the lack of desired social interaction is fueling OP’s desire to move on. There seemed to be a desire for more socializing, happy hours, chit-chat, lunches, and so forth. Perhaps it’s a cultural fit issue. As someone who’s highly introverted and dreams of solo workdays with no phone calls and no chit-chat, I lean toward reminding people that the workplace is not where you fill your social needs. However, I realize I’m on the far outside with that opinion.

    Maybe OP should look for a more collaborative environment where they can feel more fulfilled both socially and with their career path. It seems like that might lead to longer job satisfaction. Best of luck, OP!

    1. SoloKid*

      I learned that making work-social connections is key for advancing in my career. I don’t offer details about my personal life or offer home parties, but light chit-chat by staying curious about people’s work has gone a long way for me and opened up networking doors further down the line.

      e.g. I used to be a teapot painter, and met someone at a painting conference and they mentioned how annoying it was that their llama grooming handles kept chipping paint. We kept in touch after the conference and I was able to switch industries by leveraging the fact I’ve painted high-touch points even though I knew nothing about llamas.

    2. beanie gee*

      Yep, and considering leaving a job because most of the people are older just sounds icky to admit.

      1. But There is a Me in Team*

        This struck me too. Just a notch below age discrimination, and if someone who thinks the older people in the office are boring and then get promoted to management- watch out.

        1. MCMonkeybean*

          I think there is a WORLD of difference between a company discriminating against an older employee, and an individual person feeling like they would prefer to work with people closer to their own age. If they are literally the only younger person in the office that can be weird sometimes, just like it can be weird to be the only woman in the office or the only anything really.

        2. TardyTardis*

          But an office full of older people likely has less upward mobility, because more of them will probably stay just for the health insurance.

    3. Emi*

      On the other hand, if OP is feeling under-socialized because of the pandemic, a new job may not fix that (and it might be fixed through out-of-work socializing pending covid reopening in some form).

    4. HardlyLovelace*

      “[T]he workplace is not where you fill your social needs”.

      But where else do you frequently chat with people if, for instance, you’re single and living alone, or living with people who are never home? Not everyone has the mental energy to try to convince super-busy friends to hang around, or to join some after-work activity.

      1. twocents*

        Meetups, volunteering, sports/gym, hobbies, classes…

        I’m single and live alone too, but if I wanted people to party with, I wouldn’t rely on work to provide that for me. Work should give me a paycheck, reasonably fulfilling work, and generally pleasant interactions, but I wouldn’t job hop looking for besties.

        And if I decided I was too tired to cultivate my own social circles? Then that’s a choice too: that I’d rather spend my time doing X than have non-work friends. There’s really no shortcut to friendship; it will always require time and proximity (though maybe focus your efforts on people that you don’t have to “convince” to hang out).

    5. Anonymoose*

      There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the work environment being part of your social sphere. I get that you don’t want that, but some people do, and that’s totally ok. You spend half your waking weekday hours at work, its pretty natural to have friendships there. Especially if you’re a lawyer where I imagine you’re spending more than 40 hours a week at work.

  5. Aliendial*

    Just my 2 cents, but the law biz is different in some ways. A young lawyer job hopping law firms like this, without good reasons, suggests they don’t have ‘it’. You’d have to be super special for my firm to look at you with this record. We’re looking for lawyers with growth potential, not just covering a job.

    That said, with 5 years in whatever niche work they’re doing, OP probably would have decent prospects with companies who are used to taking law firm lawyers stepping back from the grind.

    1. AnonFed*

      I’m a lawyer and my agency has a pretty intense training period. So we don’t want job hunters because if you leave right after 2 years, we’ve invested a lot of time into training that we aren’t getting back (my agency tends to see people stick around for very long periods so government work may be a big exception).

      1. Aliendial*

        Exactly. Young lawyers know very little about the actual practice of law and those early years are your training ground. If you’re going the law firm route, Alison’s advice about early career job hopping being ok is just not right. We expect young lawyers to dive in and learn about their practice area and develop expertise and not walk away.

        That said, it happens far more these days than when I was a young lawyer, as expectations and generations change, but a job hopping young lawyer still needs to be able to show they are worth it, and haven’t just been let go gently a few times.

        1. AnonFed*

          This is true, we rarely actually fire people because they usually take the option of resigning, but most people who leave in the first two years couldn’t make it within our system.

          Now the obvious exception is clerking but every attorney knows that. Those are expected to be a year (though longer clerkship are becoming more common so a longer one is not a red flag).

    2. L.H. Puttgrass*

      I think it also depends on what kind of law the LW is in. Five months in a a job while looking for a “real” first job, followed by two and a half years at a firm, followed by eighteen months at another firm, then a third job at yet another firm…well, I’d forget about partner track. OTOH, hopping around seems like more commonly accepted practice among public-interest lawyers, from what I’ve seen, and it’s not necessarily a mark against a candidate for having “done time” in a firm before switching to the public-interest side (law school loans can be a bear, y’all).

      1. Hi there*

        “well, I’d forget about partner track.”

        That’s exactly what I said below. She’s 5 years in, so she’s getting to the point where it’s going to look like her firms are saying to her, “You’re not going to make partner here, so you should find somewhere else to go at some point soon, but we’ll keep you on until then.” You don’t want your resume to look like even one firm has said that to you, let alone two.

        1. L.H. Puttgrass*

          Yeah, that’s the thing with law practice that’s not common in other fields. In many fields, especially IT, people assume that you chose to change jobs. With law firms, a lot of people will assume that a job change was an “up or out” move, even if it wasn’t.

          A resume with several jobs over a few years can tell a story. If the story is, “I was at a few different places where I learned different things, now I’m ready to put all that learning to work for you,” that can be fine. “I get dissatisfied with jobs and leave before long” is a universal story that’s not great. “My previous firms made it clear I’m not partner material” is one that lawyers have to watch out for.

    3. B*

      Totally agree. Former big firm lawyer here. I have known many associates with resumes like this, and with some exceptions, they either (1) had clear deficiencies that explained why they never stuck long or (2) were miserable practicing in a law firm and were desperately (and almost always wrongly) hoping a change of scenery would fix that.

      The few exceptions were people who had good explanations for each change — they liked a practice area their firm wasn’t strong in, they had a family reason to move, etc. I don’t think the social life thing tracks.

      I dunno, my read on this is maybe the LW is feeling a normal kind of midlevel attorney malaise, and maybe that is exacerbated by the covid malaise so many of us are experiencing. I’d really counsel giving serious thought to what LW wants out of their career next, rather than what they don’t like about their current situation.

      1. L.H. Puttgrass*

        Your last paragraph really hits it, I think. The LW is considering leaving because the workplace isn’t as young and social as they want, the workload is inconsistent, and they’re not sure that continuing to practice in their niche field will position them well for the in-house job they eventually want to move to. One the one hand, if LW can get that in-house job now, I say go for it; the job-hopping will hurt or it won’t, and LW will find out one way or another. But on the other…as workplace problems go, those are pretty darn mild. It may just be that this is what midlevel law practice is often like (although the workload thing might be a warning sign).

        My advice would be to stick it out there until LW has enough experience to move in-house, because a move to another firm will only hurt.

  6. I'm that guy*

    Speaking for all of us older skewing geezers. I apologize for not shuffling off this mortal coil.

    1. foolofgrace*

      I, being 65, was a little taken aback by the “age” comment, but then I realized that although I am surrounded by young-ish coworkers, and we’re all perfectly nice to each other, I’m not really interested in socializing with the young ‘uns. We listen to different music, we’re more or less interested in current entertainment offerings, etc.

      1. meyer lemon*

        I’ve often had friendly acquaintances who were at least 30 years older than me, sometimes more like 50 years. Generally this is because I have a lot of hobbies and volunteer interests that a lot of retired people pick up. Usually we haven’t been extremely close, but I like spending time with people outside of my immediate age range.

        1. NotSoAnon*

          Same meyer lemon! I’m young (upper 20’s) and our company skews young (SaaS/Fintech) but we have a wide range of ages. Some of my favorite coworkers and peers are 20-30 years older than me and we have tons in common. But I consider myself an “old soul” and have kids so I’m not interested in the drinking/party culture of most of the people my age at our company.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I think it’s less about age and more of a culture fit – the OP wants to be friends/friendly with her coworkers. I am 40 and I want to be friendly with my coworkers, in the sense that I enjoy having a non-work chat with them now and then, but I don’t want to go to happy hours or hang out after work, and that’s been true for the bulk of my career. (Exception being coworkers I genuinely want to Make Friends with, but that’s generally one-on-one.)

    3. Green great dragon*

      Nah, I can see their point. When I was young, I frequently went out with the other young people at work – bars, clubbing etc. Now that I am older, I do my job and go home to my kids or go out with the friends I’ve picked up over the past *cough* years. The most I might do (in non-covid times) is a couple of drinks after work if someone’s leaving. The young ‘uns of the office are off clubbing with each other, I assume, but I’m not going to provide much social companionship to a 20-something.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I’m reminded of a Malcolm in the Middle episode where Bryan Cranston’s character (Hal, the dad) tries to befriend his, much younger, coworkers at a record store, and ends up going to a party with them after work. The party gets broken up by the police. While hiding, Hal runs into one of his sons, who’s also at the party.

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      While I’m OP’s parents’ age now, I have, in my past jobs, been the youngest in the office by 10-15 years and even that was awkward. Being the youngest by 25-30 years would’ve felt really isolating. Pretty sure OP still wants us to stay alive, lol, they just also want to be a better fit and to have coworkers they can be friends with outside of work.

    5. Grace*

      I can understand how being in a different age group/life stage than most of your coworkers would be isolating. My department is mostly mid-late 30s/early 40s, but even so we tend to split between those with younger kids who just go home after work and those who are single and go out for drinks together regularly. Small talk tends to circle back to weekend plans, recent vacations, house projects, and other day to day stuff outside of work, etc. If one person is in a completely different life stage than everyone else, it will be harder to feel connected.

      1. Washi*

        In my last job, there was one coworker that was only 10 years older than I am, and the rest of the team was 25-30 years older. It was definitely kind of weird at first since I was coming from an environment where almost everyone was under 35.

        That said, I did make friends at that job! It took longer to feel out who was open to that, and no, we didn’t go to bars/concerts, but I have two solid friends (one 10 years older, one 30 years older) from that job that I still occasionally call on the phone or see for walks.

        If it’s really the social aspect that’s getting to the OP, I wonder if she is able to make overtures to the friendliest person, or the person she vibes most with. Maybe they won’t become outside-of-work friends but she might be surprised by the response! It was actually a great growth experience for me to get out of the college mindset of being within a few years in age of all my friends. I love getting my older friends’ perspective on things and I have learned so much from them.

  7. foolofgrace*

    For your next in-depth interview when you find something you’re interested in, maybe you could manage a tour, and thus get the barometer on age groups. Or I suppose you could ask about the makeup of the work force in such a way that it doesn’t sound like you’re looking to discriminate on age. As an in-house counsel I don’t think there will be all that many people in your sphere of contact.

    1. MapleHill*

      I don’t think she should focus on age so much as culture fit. You could find a culture that’s more social and has group activities with people across the age spectrum. I think her experience in a culture like that happened to have people her age, but you could also join a company with people your age who are all anti-social and doesn’t have any of these team activities. So it’s really about the company culture.

      Some of my favorite people I work with are 10-25 years older than me. As a childless by choice person, I find I have more in common with them than the people my age who are in that family stage of life. And we have plenty in common.

      1. Smithy*

        Just to reiterate here that culture is a far bigger deal than age. I worked for one organization where the majority of staff were within 10-15 years of one another and a solid mix of single/married and kids/no kids. I worked there for 3.5 years and the entire time there was never a happy hour or holiday party. The physical design of the office meant that no one could really “eat lunch together” and the neighborhood didn’t allow for grabbing a coffee together. However, we worked in a very tight space – so not only was there a lot of collaboration but also regular chit chat.

        My next position was at a place that had regular happy hours, holiday parties, staff getting lunch/coffee together, etc. However, the dynamics/layout of the office meant that you could go hours and not speak to another person.

        All of which to say is that it’s worth being really thoughtful around why a particular culture or working environment is or is not appealing. For me, option #2 was horrible. I thought that place #1 was a touch extreme in terms of “nothing social ever”, but as a workplace I got the collaboration and brainstorming dynamics where I worked best.

      2. HardlyLovelace*

        “[A] company with people your age who are all anti-social and doesn’t have any of these team activities”

        I confirm it’s a thing. I was very bored as a grad student when everyone around me wouldn’t stop gushing about how they loved staying home, watching Netflix, knitting, and reading. They never came to my parties. Meanwhile I was going stir-c**** with loneliness. Contrasted to that, a summer job I had with people in ages ranging from 20 to what I assume was 55 was a lot of fun, we had great team chemistry, and I was sad to have to leave.

        Better with older sociable colleagues you gel with (friendships spanning decades do happen) than with antisocial colleagues in your age group.

  8. Thinking*

    I graduated with a four-year degree two years ago and am on my fourth job since then. Only the first was designed to be short-term. I love the role I am in now, but the two before that felt like major hurdles to finding my right fit. On the bright side, those negative experiences helped me better articulate what I value in and desire from a workplace and my specific role.

    So, when I was asked about my short-term stays when interviewing for this current role, I was prepared “to explain the circumstances to interviewers and be convincing that [I was] looking for something stable now,” as Alison writes. I made sure to explicitly say that I was eager to stay somewhere for the long term. It was hard to not bash my previous employer but I know from reading plenty of posts on here that you should NOT do that! Anyways, I’d just like to say that overall, my two “wrong fits” led to a great fit, and I wish I could tell the 2019 version of me that not everything will fall into place perfectly and quickly.

    1. TWW*

      I don’t think your first job out of college counts at all regardless of whether it’s meant to be temporary. I don’t know many people who stayed in their first job more than a year or two. If anything, when I hear about someone staying in their first job multiple years, it makes me think wonder what’s going on.

      1. Cats cats cata*

        That’s me, and something I get really nervous about!

        But I’ve moved up, both title wise and pay very significantly, we do get annual raises, and the benefits are amazing, especially the insurance and pto. The first few years I would apply and I terrier elsewhere, just to make sure I wasn’t missing out. Now that I’m more senior, I do respond to some recruiters, but nothing has tempted me so far.

  9. Quickbeam*

    A lot of OP’s concerns center on the social culture at work. Just be aware your needs on that do change as you yourself age. In my 20s and 30s my social life was very much involved with my coworkers. Now in my 60, not so much. The work places are different, sure, but your desire for that kind of friendship at work may also morph.

    1. AnotherSarah*

      I also think that if OP is somewhat fresh out of law school, their expectations might be different. Certainly firm cultures vary, but I’m not sure that they’ll be close to what OP may have experienced in their younger/school days.

    2. PT*

      I worked somewhere where we had a lot of senior programming, and thus had a lot of senior employees and program participants. Our 55+ employees did the most socializing! Probably even more than our under 21 part timers who mostly went to school together. They were a really tight supportive community, it was great.

  10. veronica*

    I noticed that the letter write lead with the social concerns of the job. It doesn’t sound like it’s a toxic or bad workplace, just not very exciting socially. The section about career goals was much more vague. Is the letter writer bored because they need more social connection? There are lots of other ways to get that connection outside of a job. If I was interviewing this person for their next job I would rather hear that they are leaving to obtain career goals x, y and z rather than the fact that the workplace is boring. Job hoping is a concern if you move because you are bored or don’t get along with others, not because the last few jobs made you realize you’d really rather be doing something else.

    1. TWW*

      I think the lack of social connection at work is about more than just being bored or needing friends. Having social connections at work can be important for advancing your career.

      In my case, every job offer and promotion I received throughout my 20s and 30s depended on colleagues with whom I had personal connections being eager to vouch for me.

  11. Leah K.*

    I am currently trying to fill an open position on my team, so I’ve been reviewing quite a few resumes lately. I will say by itself a pattern of “job hopping” wouldn’t prevent me from doing a phone screen with a candidate, but I would certainly ask questions during the phone screen to try to figure out what was behind it. However, sometimes it does serve as the “last strike” against a candidate. One example that comes to mind was a candidate that had 5 jobs in 7 years with the longest stay at one place of just under 2 year mark. They also had 6 typos in their resume and used identical job description (i.e. copied and pasted the list of duties and tasks) for two of those jobs. That resume went straight into the reject pile.

    1. RG2*

      Absolutely! I’d never not phone screen someone because of job hopping, but I would definitely ask them about it and hope they had a good explanation. Hiring is expensive and takes time. If it seems like they get bored easily or they’re not screening new jobs carefully for things that become dealbreakers, I’d rather hire an equally strong candidate or almost as strong candidate with a track record of staying at places for longer (and especially one who seems to be carefully sizing up fit to make sure we’re a place they’d want to stay). Hiring is expensive and training/building institutional knowledge takes time.

  12. Old Jobhopper*

    This was response was interesting to me, as well, because I was adhering to the 1 year time frame. I don’t think I’ve ever had a job where I didn’t start looking for another job after about a year. Sometimes I found something right away, sometimes I got tired of looking, sometimes I fell back into the rhythm of my current job. But having been in my profession for over 15 years now, and having left my last job after 1.5 years and hating my current job after 1.5 years, I totally understand the response that at this stage in my career, a new employer would look askance at those briefer positions. Wow that’s depressing! I think I got caught up in wanting to get out of a bad situation and chose a position that is ultimately not a good fit for me, but it’s hard to articulate to new employers and hard to demonstrate that you really are a valued, dependable employee.

    1. Cobol*

      What’s your longest stay at a job? At 15 years 1-2 years on average isn’t great, but if you had a 5-year stay then two 1.5sn I’d be less worried.

      If your early jobs were short-term too though, I might think about doing them from your resume.

      Also if you work in NYC, SF, or anywhere in tech in wouldn’t worry about it.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think I’ve ever had a job where I didn’t start looking for another job after about a year.

      This is exactly what they’re screening for when they’re considering you a job hopper.

      it’s hard to articulate to new employers and hard to demonstrate that you really are a valued, dependable employee.

      I don’t really think it’s about whether you’re valued or dependable. You’re probably extremely valuable and dependable for the year you’re there. It is more, as Alison mentioned in her response, that they don’t want to invest in hiring and training you, only for you to leave a year later, even if you do amazing work in the year you’re there.

  13. Hi there*

    Speaking as a lawyer who has been practicing for nearly a decade…unless (1) your first job was a clerkship (which, given the timeline, I doubt), or (2), you have moved cities during your career, you definitely might look like you are job hopping. I think the problem for you is that the further you go along in your career, the more it is going to look like your current firms are saying, “You aren’t going to make partner here, so you should look somewhere else.” And that can definitely hurt you.

    But also, it depends on the circumstances. My wife worked as an associate at a Top 20 firm for her first year out of law school, and then we moved across the country and she clerked on the circuit. Then she had a one-year job that wasn’t a good fit for her, and then she switched to her current firm, where she has been for 6 years and is about to make partner. That might look like job-hopping on the surface, but given our specific circumstances, it wasn’t.

    1. Guacamole Bob*

      My spouse is similar. In law it’s very specific to what the jobs are – two one-year clerkships/fellowships, 2-3 years in BigLaw, then on to something else is pretty common and definitely not job hopping. Looking for your fourth job within the first 4-5 years out of law school otherwise? Potentially a red flag to a hiring manager.

      I’m really curious about what kind of law firm OP is working at that she’s the only one in her age bracket. Are there no other associates?

  14. ATX*

    Just a thought OP: I have known some job hoppers and am a previous job hopper myself. I find that job hoppers are generally dissatisfied with their jobs for one reason or another, but boredom and lack of fulfillment is high on the list of reasons why people job hop. The problem usually lies within the person themselves, and less with the job.

    If you get bored easily or feel unfulfilled easy, it might be a you problem and it’s worth doing some soul-searching or find a way to accept that jobs will be jobs, and find ways to fulfill whatever it is you’re lacking outside of work via hobbies.

    I had 4 jobs within 6 years. I got bored very easily and would always look for new opportunities. I’ve been at my current job for 3 years, been promoted to management, and am very happy. Am I bored sometimes? Oh yes. Is my job fulfilling? Sometimes but most often it’s just normal corporate work. On the flip side: my boss is amazing, my hours are super flex, I make great money, I’m never stressed, my coworkers and the people I manage are fantastic, and I work for a prestigious company that’s always all over the news and always doing cool things. I learned to accept that jobs are jobs and sometimes you put up with the boring and mundane when you have it really good.

    Like Alison says, there is no dream job. You will always have to deal with some BS, even if the job sounds “perfect.”

    1. notMichelle*

      This. I’m about to head to my 4th job in roughly 5 years. I moved to BigCity at the end of 2016 and just took any job I could get which ended up being sales job and I hated it and 6 months later I got an office admin type job. It was still heavy on customer service, but more officey. I got laid off from that role, but I was deeply unhappy there by the end. My role changed significantly and then interns were doing my job and the only career path I had there was sales which I did not want. Current job that I’m about to leave I’ve been here for 2 years, learned a lot, but am so incredibly bored with the work. I’ve used this time to start to skill up and find something I’m actually interested in besides basic office admin work that is clearly boring me. I’m about to head to a tech role so hopefully that’ll keep me engaged and excited because I am so unsatisfied with my current work I’m doing (and thankfully leaving).

  15. Emily*

    You’ll find out if job-hopping is a big deal when you apply for jobs and see what offers you get. If you get something great, there you go, it wasn’t that big of a deal. Could it be the case that that job winds up not working out and you need to leave, and then that additional short stint makes you much less employable next time around? Sure, but that doesn’t seem particularly likely. I think this is overrated as a concern – or at least, that the answer is so case-specific that looking for a job and seeing how it goes is almost always going to give you the best information about your particular circumstances.

    When I look at resumes, short stints aren’t something in of of themselves that I care about — if the jobs show a pattern of growth, then what I’m seeing is that you were getting new opportunities that let your career grow faster than you could at your company. If the moves are lateral, though, that is more of an issue, because I wonder why you were moving.

    1. Nicotene*

      Alison specifically says you *can* still get jobs with a hopper-y resume, they just likely won’t be the most competitive jobs. It’s kind of a downward spiral; you can’t get as many strong offers so you take what you can get but it doesn’t turn out to be great either so you don’t want to stay there either. Ask me how I know.

      1. Emily*

        And you’ll see whether this is true in your particular circumstances by the quality of the jobs you’re offered. If you get a really strong offer, well, it wasn’t true. If you don’t, don’t take it. This is field and circumstance-dependent, and the best way to find out whether it’s the case for you is to look and see.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      You’ll find out if job-hopping is a big deal when you apply for jobs and see what offers you get.

      Yeah, it’s not really a certificate you get: “Job hopper.” It is a very practical and testable thing. If you have enough experience and a decently proofread résumé, and you’re having trouble getting phone screens and interviews, you may be hopping jobs too frequently. If you can get interviews and jobs just fine, you’re fine.

  16. Elizabeth*

    This is a tough one for someone coming out of project work, especially in the oil and gas related trades, and trying to move into an office job. You’re always working yourself out of a job because projects end. Switching companies, sometimes 2 and 3 times a year, is the only way to stay employed because you’re moving from one major project to the next. In the project world, no one blinks. But to HR/software, it’s a terrible optic unless a live body who is familiar with that part of the industry lays actual eyes on your resume. We’re going through this with my husband right now because all the job switches and the impossibility of showing accomplishments make him look like a very bad candidate, and there’s only so much you can do with a cover letter.

    1. SoloKid*

      IMO software teams nowadays are designed to crank people out after 2 years. It’s always about creation and not maintenance per managment decree. Devs at a place for 2+ years get stuck on maintenance mode then feel burnt out having to maintain the system they were rushed to develop.

      It’s terrible, and a large part of why I never want to code professionally.

  17. Spearmint*

    I wonder if there’s a generational divide on this. People I know under 35 or so seem to view switching jobs frequently (every 2-3 years, sometime later even less) as normal and perhaps even rational, as it’s the best way to secure raises and promotions, and they don’t expect their coworkers or employees to stay longer than that. On the other hand, people over 35 seem to expect to stay at job for 4-7 years or so, and look at leaving sooner than that as job hopping unless there’s a reason for it (e.g. moving).

    Of course, this could also just reflect people being at different career stages, but my sense from even conversations with friends and family is that most young people feel that staying in one company without promotion for more than 2-3 years means you’re stagnating and possibly being exploited.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Varies by industry, too. In IT/IS, after 5 years you may as well be a lifer. Even 3 years in one place is eyebrow-worthy.

      1. Colette*

        That hasn’t been my experience. There may be sub-niches of IT where it’s the case, but it’s common for developers (in particular) to stay with a company for more than 2 years.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Mine neither. Granted I’ve never worked at a tech company, and do not live in a tech hub. My experience is that it won’t be frowned on (at most places) if you’ve changed jobs every two years, but that it’s not a requirement, and that employers won’t assume that there is something wrong with you if you stayed in one place longer than that.

          1. Colette*

            Yeah, I’ve worked at a variety of tech companies, and that has never been the norm. Changing projects? Sure. But not companies.

            It may be different if you exclusively work in startups.

          2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            My experience is that it won’t be frowned on (at most places) if you’ve changed jobs every two years

            It’s how you assemble your personal alphabet soup, to combat the requirement exaggeration.

            What’s wrong with you if you don’t do it is that you don’t have experience with the entire catalog of wants for the next position.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              The places I’ve worked have used contractors when they needed someone with the alphabet soup to throw something cutting-edge together quickly. Granted this is also not an ideal approach, and a great way to get the in-house devs into a situation when they are trapped in their job maintaining the old stuff and cannot get out. FWIW, I’ve been in my current position 8 years. Six in the one before it and six in the one before that. Each time, it was hard to get out for the reasons you listed. But spending one’s whole career (35, 40 years now that the retirement age is at least 67?) changing jobs every two years to stay up to date, sounds exhausting. Oh well, no one said that corporate life would be fun.

              From the business standpoint, I don’t know how I would feel about having my team develop an app with every person on the team knowing full well they will never have to maintain or support it – if it crashes in prod, or at a client’s site, because it has bugs, they’ll be long gone and it won’t be their problem anymore. But if this approach seems to work for the high-tech companies, then good!

    2. Colette*

      I suspect it’s an experience divide, not a generational one. The thing is, changing companies works until it doesn’t – and if it stops working when unemployment is high or you’re stuck in a toxic company, it’s not going to work out well for you.

      If you’re staying 2+ years, it’s probably not a big deal, but if the pattern is 1.5 years, 2 years, 7 months, 1.5 years, you’re not likely to get hired in a job that takes while to learn.

    3. AnonFed*

      This is also a field thing. I am a lawyer who is under 35 and those first few years you are practicing are really when you actually learn to be a lawyer. It does take some time to build up a solid transferable skillset so people who hire new attorneys put a lot of effort in. I am a fed and in most agencies, training is often 1-2 years minimum.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        Yeah, the training time is a huge part of this. If you’re taking the kinds of roles where you can start contributing meaningfully in week two and you’ve really hit your stride by three months in, then switching every 2 years may not be that big a deal. If you’re taking jobs where the growth curve is a lot longer, job hopping is going to be much more of a problem.

      2. miss chevious*

        Yeah, it’s definitely partly a field thing. As an in-house lawyer, I am hiring for the long term, so a hoppy resume is going to be a yellow flag for me because I would worry that by the time OP knows enough to be useful, she will want to be gone.

    4. Hillary*

      I agree with Colette it’s experience, plus career stages. Earlier in my career I could slot into a job in a week or two – the basic skills were the same, I just had to learn the company’s nuances. But at my current role (3 years and counting) my boss was amazed I produced anything in my first six months. It took a full year to develop enough relationships and trust to get things done outside my immediate team, and almost two years before I was able to make major improvements.

    5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Yep, I bet there is. I came to the US at 29, with a CS degree and several years of experience that I was told “did not count”. I was offered an entry-level job when in reality I was above entry level. I ended up changing three jobs in three years for my responsibilities (and my pay) to get to where they should’ve been in the first place. Then I stopped changing jobs every year. Also, when I was starting out, I pretty much took the first offer I came across, because not many places were willing to hire someone without US experience. It was not a dream job by any stretch, but I had a family and it paid the bills (poorly). Later on I was able to find jobs that were more in line with what I was looking for, so I was more inclined to stay.

    6. I'm A Little Teapot*

      When you think about the generations where they started working at the company right out of high school and stayed for 30+ years, yes, there’s a generation divide. The 30+ year thing simply doesn’t apply in many cases any more, but there’s still a lot of people out there who have that mindset.

        1. RecoveringSWO*

          Yeah, I think any white collar jobs (since Union’s were able to protect pensions/seniority longer in blue collar fields) with this expectation changed so long ago that those employees have since retired.

        2. I'm A Little Teapot*

          No it hasn’t. Yet I know easily 20 people whom I’ve worked with in the past 5 years who still have that thinking, at least in certain situations. It may well be that my experience is unusual, but for 3 of my previous employers it was not uncommon to have people stay for decades. This mindset is still out there. And even if someone doesn’t have it specifically, they may still be influenced by it indirectly.

        3. Hamish the Accountant*

          Depends on the industry. I’m in public accounting and I’ve bounced around a little bit, but at each of the firms I’ve worked at, there are quite a few people who’ve been at the same firm for 10, 20, even 30 years.

    7. Smithy*

      I have to image there’s likely a generational impact given the impact on the young people that entered the workforce during the 2008 recession and now with COVID, the impacts on internal promotions/raises have deeply impacted the need the leave to move up.

      However, I also think that these changes have created more deeply entrenched niches from sector to sector. What’s “too short” or “too long” in one sector can look radically different in another.

    8. Anonymous Educator*

      There is a big difference between every 2-3 years versus every 8-14 months. Even if you stay 2 years, as opposed to 1, your employer can get some serious return on your training and onboarding, and you can have stayed long enough to make a real impact.

  18. LadyByTheLake*

    As someone who went from law firm life to in house — in house is very much everyone in their offices, head down, and skews a bit older since in-house tends to hire more experienced people and they stick around. Collegial and rewarding, yes — but not a lot of time for socializing. If you want a work environment that is like being a summer associate or those first couple of years in a firm, hanging out with your peers, going to lunches and happy hours . . . it is likely that in-house won’t be for you because (in my experience), the in house jobs that were like that were at pretty dysfunctional companies.
    As for whether your work experience looks like job hopping — that 5 month stint is something that will have to be got over, and like another commenter mentioned, going to yet another firm is going to look pretty bad.

    1. AS87*

      Have to ask did part of that dysfunction include cliques or some people being left out and hurt when it came to said hanging out with your peers, going to lunches and happy hours?

      1. miss chevious*

        I don’t know what Lady is referring to, but in my experience, the in-house jobs that involved a lot of lunches and happy hours were a result of some pretty poor boundaries between the business and the legal team. This can happen a lot in start ups or younger companies, where the “fun” vibe colonizes the lawyers and Bad Things happen.

      2. LadyByTheLake*

        It was more like miss chevious says — it wasn’t cliques, but it it was companies that treated the Legal department like a joke (and the Legal Department played along with the joke) and terrible boundaries between work and private lives.

      3. AS87*

        Good point on the boundaries. I should add what made what I said above worse was that those boundaries were definitely blurred.

  19. Bookworm*

    Thanks for writing, OP. Gave me some food for though (although I’m not in law.) Good luck to you.

  20. SnowWhiteClaw*

    I don’t blame you for moving so frequently between jobs!

    My company doesn’t give more than 2.5% raises if your performance is excellent and no promotions are possible for me. Minimum wage is going up over the next few years, so in 2022 I will be making about $2 an hour over minimum wage.

    I don’t hate what I do, but if I need to leave to get a COL raise I’ll do it.

  21. Twenty Points for the Copier*

    This feels to me like a situation where it’s probably worth staying longer just to build a longer history. If it were a truly toxic environment or a job that was completely out of the LW’s field, it would be one thing, but it seems like the LW is bored of the culture and bored of the work and wanting to do something that will better position her for future career goals.

    Culture can matter but I also went through a period where I was looking for a lot of interpersonal connection at work. The first two offices I worked at were pretty social but they weren’t “my people” and the third was very small and quiet. None of them really gave me what I wanted culture-wise, but by the third place I had started finding ways to build that outside of work. Especially during the pandemic, it’s so easy to feel starved for interaction that given that the LW’s work history is (for her field) tilted towards the short term, I think it would be a bad idea to actively look for a new job based on this alone.

    Likewise for the future career goals. Given what others in the law field have said, it seems like the best thing that LW can do to further longer term goals is to stay at her current place long enough to build up some more accomplishments that would make her more attractive elsewhere.

    That’s not to say I think looking around is totally off limits, but it should be focused on looking only for really ideal opportunities to move into LW’s desired field and with very, very thorough vetting of any opportunities. This is not a “leave for leaving’s sake” situation, but a “be very, very careful about leaving” situation.

    1. Nicotene*

      In OP’s circumstances I think agree. Even six more months would make a difference to how this record looks (since she’d be over two years, and then it takes time to find things to apply to and get interviews, at least in my experience). Six months or a year isn’t very much if the main complaint is that the job isn’t that social. It’s a pandemic, nothing is that social right now anyway.

  22. Grayson*

    I will say, that in certain fields such as government consulting (i.e. Booz Allen Hamilton, Lockheed Martin, Deloitte) contracts that are single option year contracts are pretty common.

    I have been working as a consultant for 5 years, and in that time each of my stints on contracts varied wildly.

    * 3 months (prime company kicked us off the contract due to external political issues)
    * 6 months (bad assignment fit)
    * 1 year (sub contractor became prime and had to take more of the work as part of their contract)
    * 1 year 3 months (transitioned into a new role to do more quantitative analysis)

    Now, all that being said, just because it’s common doesn’t mean you can’t explain it. You’ve gotta have a solid answer as to why your stints were so short.

  23. Rayray*

    I got laid off from a job after 11 months – wasn’t directly COVID related but it was in March 2020. I like my current job ok, but realistically, it just won’t suffice long term. I don’t want to job hunt yet but I also know I can’t stay here long term. Is that going to be bad to have two short term gigs even though it wasn’t necessarily by choice or habit? My previous two companies were about 6-7 years each.

    1. Purple Cat*

      Personally, I think having the 2 long stints with the 2 “hoppers” being during COVID time gives you a “pass”. So many jobs/careers have been up-ended this year.

      1. Colette*

        Yeah, I’d agree. And a layoff during COVID is a good explanation. But I’d suggest you look for a place you will stay at least a few years so you don’t have 3 short-term stays.

  24. AS87*

    I’m in grad school right now and during a meeting with an executive of a local company, he implied that job-hopping might be becoming more common as he can no longer initially filter out applications with an appearance of job hopping. I totally get why job-hopping can be a red flag to some employers as far as reliability goes. However, if it is becoming more common, it seems like that freedom of movement could serve as a potential check on bad bosses and/or employers.

    I know culture’s been mentioned here (I’m introverted) and I may be biased here but I struggled to get behind OP’s reason for wanting to leave. My first job (18 months) had a lot of what OP was talking about and I hated it, partly because a lot of it was passively-aggressively forced. My last job (7.5 years) was more similar to OP’s current job.

  25. New Mom*

    Depending on what level you are applying for, this might not matter as much. We recently hired for a VP level, and the final three all had leadership experience. One of the candidates seemed to move around every 2 years even when they held high up roles. That was a pretty bug red flag to me because we are looking for someone who will stick around. But for a coordinator position, people don’t usually stay longer than 2-3 years anyway.

  26. balanceofthemis*

    I think it also matters why you left, and if you can articulate that. I don’t think hiring managers expect people to stay in part-time jobs for years in order to not be a job-hopper. And in some fields it’s not uncommon to take a couple part-time jobs to get their foot in the door and leave as soon as you can parley that experience into a full-time position, or leave the field entirely to escape the hamster wheel. (Yes, I am referrring to a very specific field)

  27. Atlantic Beach Pie*

    I posted about this recently in the comments–a recruiter told me that her clients would see my resume as that of a job hopper, despite acknowledging that the average tenure in my specific subfield is 18 months, and at a a more junior level, the average tenure is 10 months. My resume looks like this:

    Job 1: 2.5 years
    Job 2: 2 years
    Job 3: 3 years
    1 year of consulting/freelance work for 2 clients
    Job 4: 3.5 years
    Job 5: 15 months, laid off due to pandemic

    Lately I’ve seen another type of “job-hopping” coming up in my interview questions. I work in nonprofit administration, and I’ve worked for a really wide variety of causes. Think museums, environmental issues, a community service org that runs a lot of different programs, etc. I’m passionate about social justice issues in general and I know I want to work for an organization that does direct service, preferably with some advocacy in the mix so they are dedicated to changing the systems as well. I’ve been applying to organizations in the social justice sphere; examples include gender justice/women’s services, food pantries, working with formerly incarcerated folks etc. The interviewers seem really skeptical that I am dedicated to *their mission* because I have worked for so many seemingly disparate causes before. There are a lot of causes I care about, and I would be equally happy working for a food pantry as I would working on prison abolition or racial justice or WHATEVER!! And, we’re supposedly waking up to the fact as a society that all of these issues are intersectional and interrelated anyway; so does it matter that I haven’t worked for women’s rights before if I have experience working in LGBTQ rights?

    1. Message in a Bottle*

      It’s such a good question. How deep could you go with one focus anyway? There aren’t that many organizations in a single city that you could get that singular experience with and still move around. And as others have stated staying at one could seriously limit one income over time.

      Would love to hear from nonprofit hiring managers about their take on this.

      1. Atlantic Beach Pie*

        Exactly! The last 2 organizations I worked for were under the same “cause” umbrella, even though they had very different focuses/programs–let’s say #4 was an organization that provided services for homeless/down-on-their-luck dromedaries and #5 was a llama museum. I was recruited to the llama museum and it seemed like a great fit bc I had worked in dromedary care and museums before, but what I found is that I’m really not interested in working in arts & culture. Frankly, I’m not interested in working for any of the other dromedary organizations in my city, as I already know most of the major players, internal politics, and struggles.

  28. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    There are at least 3 jobs I know I haven’t landed in the past 6 months because I haven’t job hopped enough, so as with everything else, YMMV. Good luck.

  29. Angela*

    I’m going to go against the grain and say I think this is starting to change, or will change very soon. The 10+ year office worker is becoming increasingly rare as the new generations move into the workplace. Among millennials, it seems like ‘job-hopping’ of years or even months is becoming more common and accepted in different fields. It’s common knowledge for many that the best way to get a raise isn’t to stick it out and work hard, but to apply elsewhere. And as this becomes more widespread, ‘job hopping’ resumes become more of the norm. Additionally, many employers are showing preferences for newer, younger employees (millennials and gen Z) who are also cheaper to hire compared to industry vets, and it’s only a matter of time before they move on to other jobs for pay bumps and better experience.

    Yes, it can be a concern for hiring, certainly- especially for specialized and upper level positions. But I think that’s going to change drastically in the next 5-10 years. It’s already changing in some fields.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think you have to stay 10 years at a job not to be considered a job hopper. Longest stint I’ve ever had was 5 years. Most of my stays at places have been 3-4 years, with some as short as a month or 6 months. As Alison said, it’s more about a pattern. If your pattern is something like 3 years, 2 years, 4 years, 1 year, 4 years, that doesn’t seem like a job hopper to me, but if your pattern is 1 year, 1.5 years, 1 year, 1 year, that seems very much like a job hopper to me.

  30. miss chevious*

    Here’s the thing — if you want to go in-house, OP, you should try to make that jump now, or you should plan on staying at your next firm for at least three years or you’re going to have a hard time getting in (unless your specialty is really in-demand). In-house positions often have a lot of competition because of the impression that there’s more work-life balance than law firm positions, and the general attitude is that you will be around for a while, so a pattern of jumping after less than three years can give off the impression that you wouldn’t be worth the effort of hiring because by the time you knew enough about the business to be useful, you would be looking to move on.

    You’re also at prime in-house hiring “age” in your career right now — experienced enough to have judgment, but not so experienced that you’re a subject matter expert and/or priced out of the market. If you wait another three years, you’ll be competing with higher qualified candidates (including people who are already in-house) for fewer slots. If it’s something you want to pursue, I would encourage you to pursue it now.

    However, be advised that while in-house can be more social — many companies don’t have billable hours for lawyers, so the grind isn’t as intense — you will be doing a lot of your work alone and many in-house lawyers have chosen in-house to work with their personal lives. We do engage more during work hours and will have the occasional lunch, but there’s not a lot of after hours activities because people have family and friends to get back to.

  31. 2013 grad*

    You’ll always find people who want to disregard your resume in law. With that said, I had to really revisit my thinking after a 2014 grad from my school had 6 jobs by the time I was on my 2nd and turned out to be way better paid, more respected in many circles and flat out more successful than me. My peers and I were pretty much like well, shhhh. So. Now we had law students about her as a data point for me why you have to keep your eyes on the prize instead of getting caught up in should.

    Apply, see what clicks, be assertive, and good luck to you.

  32. ElleKay*

    Industry is super important here too! I have a couple of short stints on my resume… b/c I worked in government and the people I worked for lost their re-elections. In the politics/government world this raises no eyebrows but it is something I have to explicitly point out now that I’m in a different sector

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