In the not-so-recent past, job hopping was considered a negative from an employer’s standpoint. Today, it appears there’s more forgiveness for creative professionals. The creative market has evolved with the times.
Advertising and marketing executives interviewed in a recent survey by The Creative Group said they believe the average creative professional will change jobs two times in a five-year period. So are you hurting your career prospects if you change jobs every two to three years? Or might well-thought-out job hopping actually benefit your creative career?
It depends. Here are several job hopping considerations as you plot your creative professional career moves.
1. What’s your specialty?
First, consider your niche within the creative profession. If it’s a fast-moving or tech-heavy role, like customer experience (CX) design, potential employers might see this skill set as a hot commodity and understand that in-demand professionals are often wooed away by other agencies and companies. For these creative professionals, job hopping may not be a red flag for hiring managers.
2. If you’re in a director or managerial post, you may want to think twice.
The higher you climb on the career ladder, the more potential employers may frown on job hopping. Any loss of top talent is regrettable, but when senior managers leave after only a few years, it’s especially disruptive — for both staff and clients. So for positions like chief marketing officer or agency vice president, employers may not want to take a chance on hiring someone with a history of job hopping.
Looking for a new design gig? Check out HOW’s job board to see who’s hiring creatives.
3. Advantages of job hopping
The advantages of changing employers frequently for some creative professionals include:
- You earn more. Rather than staying with one agency or company and receiving the occasional merit or cost-of-living increase, job hopping allows you to increase your salary more quickly, and possibly even grab lucrative hiring incentives.
- You find out which career track is right for you. Agency or corporate? Freelance or full-time? A hybrid approach? When you’re just starting out as a designer or developer, or even mid-career, trying on a variety of employers, sectors and roles can help you decide what you like and dislike.
- You are seen as enterprising. By showing productivity in different environments, with new sets of colleagues and duties each time, creative professionals can develop a reputation for being versatile and entrepreneurial.
- You add skills to your toolkit. When you job hop, you get to pick up additional expertise, even if the job title remains the same. You could learn about various industries, be exposed to different ways of thinking and master new technologies.
4. Disadvantages of job hopping
The advantages of job hopping established, there are some clear negatives to changing careers too frequently.
- You shortchange your education. Some roles are easy to pick up and master, while the learning curve for others may take more time. Leaving a position too soon or changing careers completely could cut off the opportunity to really master advantageous skills.
- It might look bad on your resume. It should serve as a wake-up call that many hiring managers overlook candidates with a series of short stints on their resume, especially if you have a habit of changing careers and making a series of lateral rather than vertical moves. You run the risk of looking flaky or, worse, as a risky hire.
- You might be losing money. Even though job hopping can net you higher starting salaries each time, there are other financial considerations. At some companies, vesting doesn’t kick in until a certain number of years on the job, so by job hopping frequently, you may be forfeiting money or stocks that employers contribute to your accounts.
Job hopping can boost your career, keep your creative mojo amped and your skills sharp and relevant. But before job hopping, be sure to weigh the pros and cons. The goal should be to bolster your reputation as an innovative and dynamic creative professional — not as an impetuous, difficult-to-develop job candidate.
Subscribe to HOW Magazine today and you’ll receive an exclusive digital download The Best of International Design Annual. Enjoy this collection of the top winners from the 2016 and 2015 International Design Awards.