That first job didn’t work out. What seemed like a good fit during the interview turned out to be a total mismatch from the first day.

The next company decided to reorganize just six months into the job and your position was eliminated.

You took the next role because, y’know, people gotta eat. But you knew that job wasn’t a keeper.

Now you’ve had some time to evaluate your options, get a better understanding of your career goals and needs, and are ready to start your job search again.

Are you a job hopper? And, if so, does it matter?

What exactly is job hopping?

Job hopping is the term used to describe someone who has moved from job to job at a pace outside the norm. But defining the norm is a pretty subjective exercise.

Whether a hiring manager will perceive you as a job hopper depends on his or her past experience, the industry in which you work, and current economic and employment trends. These same factors will influence just how much the job hopper label matters to a particular hiring manager, too.

Whether a hiring manager will perceive you as a job hopper depends on his or her past experience, the industry in which you work, and current economic and employment trends.

Five jobs in ten years? You might be a hopper.

In April of 2018, global staffing firm Robert Half conducted a survey that revealed that workers had a more favorable view of regularly changing jobs than did employers. However, both groups agreed that a professional who spent less than two years at a series of jobs probably met the definition of a job hopper.

New environment, new co-workers

Less than a year? You definitely need to consider your next move carefully.

The article How long should you stay at a job?, written by Dawn Papandrea, provides further guidance for job seekers who aren’t sure where they stand. The article notes that if you leave one job within a year on your own, it doesn’t look too bad. But if you have many non-contract, full-time jobs that didn’t last a year, it’s a bad sign regardless of why you left.

Stick around for three years? You’re probably normal.

Based on January 2018 job tenure statistics published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median job tenure for all workers is 4.2 years. However, this number includes the tenure of workers over age 55, whose median tenure stands at 10.1 years. For workers under age 34, the median tenure is 2.8 years.

Whether you call it job hopping or not, there’s no doubt about it: single-employer job tenures in the U.S. are trending down.

So, is job hopping a career booster or a career blocker?

Job hopping: Strategic or stigmatizing?

The overall trend toward shorter job tenures is one of the reasons job hopping isn’t perceived as negatively as it was in the past. Employers definitely still care about an individual hire’s potential longevity and loyalty, but also acknowledge the realities of modern careers. Here are the factors you should consider before you decide that 12 months at a job is long enough.

Job hopping isn’t perceived as negatively as it was in the past

Stigmatizing: Why some managers say no to job hoppers

Job hopping matters to hiring managers because every time an employee leaves a role the employer suffers a financial loss. According to the SHRM 2017 Talent Acquisition Benchmarking Report, the average cost-per-hire for all employee types was nearly $4,500 in 2017, while executive cost-per-hire was almost $15,000. In addition to direct acquisition costs, employers also invest unrecoverable time and resources onboarding and training new hires. To recognize a return on these investments, employers hope to see their employees stick around more than a year or two.

Employees who make a quick exit can damage company morale. Teams have to be reconfigured, work reassigned, and managers have to devote valuable time toward finding your replacement.

Strategic: Why some professionals choose to risk the label

There are plenty of reasons why you might not want to stick around for more than a year or two at your current job. I mentioned a few of them at the beginning of this article. Strategically, you should consider a job change when doing so advances your long-term career goals.

And, of course, money is a powerful motivator when it comes to choosing an employer. This doesn’t mean that you should switch jobs every time you get a better offer. But, you should consider the math.

In Should you stay or should you go? See if job hopping will work for you, Kevin Dickinson points out that job hoppers often earn a higher pay jump than those who stay with a single employer, even if they receive regular raises. When you consider the lifetime impact of these increases, switching employers may be a financially sound decision.

Besides money, how else might changing employers benefit you?

Moving quickly from job to job could also serve to accelerate the time it takes for career development--and subsequently, career advancement. Each time you take on a new role, you have access to new ideas, work environments, and opportunities to expand your skill set. Moreover, as you switch jobs, you may gain access to a new group of professionals with whom to connect and further build your personal career network.

Moving quickly from job to job may accelerate career development

Should you be concerned about the number of jobs on your resume?

Whether a history of multiple jobs over a short period of time will affect your ability to land an interview depends on several factors. In general, as you seek higher-level positions, employers expect to see signs of stability. You’ll want to have at least one or two jobs that demonstrate that you are loyal to employers that provide appropriate opportunities and compensation. The industry in which you work will also affect how your work history is perceived--some industries see more worker mobility than others.

Finally, if you have several short-term jobs on your resume, you still have the ability to shape how those work experiences are perceived. If some of your job changes were due to layoffs or other factors outside your control, consider offering a brief explanation in your summary of the job. Preemptively addressing the reason for your job change on your resume allows you to positively influence readers’ perceptions.

So, are you a job hopper? If so, take steps now to ensure that your next move will be a successful one.