I am a job hopper. That’s not something I’m always proud of or something I’m happy is true, but it is my reality. Every time I’ve left a job, it’s been fast and for a significantly better opportunity, at least in terms of pay and benefits.
I began job hopping in 2016, when I was working for a city magazine owned by a larger nationwide publishing company. At the time, I desperately needed a raise in order to keep up with cost-of-living expenses, but the publication’s finances were rocky. It’d recently been sold to a new owner, and even editors who’d been at the magazine for more than 10 years had never seen a pay bump. I asked anyway.
Naturally, the answer was no at first; a few months later, it was 3 percent. I knew my boss had advocated heavily on my behalf, and I appreciated the gesture, but that number simply wasn’t enough. Despite loving my job, I started looking for a new gig.
I found one that paid $10,000 more than my previous role, so I took it. Two years later, when I realized I’d never be promoted in that position, I hopped jobs again, another pay increase, even better benefits. Voila. My job hopping legacy was born.
Of course, job hopping gets a bad rap, and understandably so. Just as high retention rates help companies attract new talent, they also save employers the time and money spent on training new hires. At least for companies, good business means keeping team turnover low. I really do understand that.
But from the perspective of a ladder-climber or someone who wants to be paid what she’s worth (that’s me), the benefits of continuing to leap from one job to another are abundantly clear from the outset: opportunity, respect, more money, experience with a variety of projects and in other industries. I’ve worked in big companies and in very small ones; I’ve worked in publishing, tourism, and tech. For me, job hopping has been a resume-builder and a way for me to figure out what kind of work environment I enjoy.
Perhaps most importantly, job hopping is a power play, and one that’s valuable skill set–wise for women attempting to thrive in a not-so-empowering workforce. According to InHerSight data, 40 percent of women have asked for a raise in the past 12 months, but only 19 percent have received one. Less than 30 percent of women overall say they’re happy with their pay. In that way, job hopping can be a means to an end: When your employer says No, we can’t pay you that, job hopping says Oh, but someone else can.
In each of my previous jobs, I’d taken on more responsibility and received excellent performance reviews, yet the only pay increase I’d ever seen was that lowly 3 percent, and that happened after months and months of advocating for myself to my higher-ups. To get what I wanted, I learned I had to leave.
Since then, I’ve listened to plenty of people bash job hopping, and I understand their frustration. It feels like job hoppers don’t respect their coworkers or their employers, that we can’t wait patiently in line for whatever promotions or raises we think we deserve.
I think the former is an unfair generalization; there were plenty of times I didn’t want to leave my job, my industry, or the coworkers I’d grown to love. But the latter is unquestionably true. I won’t “wait my turn,” and I don’t think others should either.
While it’s good business to hold onto your employees, it’s also good business to know your worth and to pursue it. Again, that’s where power comes in.
If job hopping has taught me anything, it’s that I have just as much power over my pay as my employer does, and that I need to view myself as a the type of talent a company will either try to recruit or retain.
Your boss might never promote you. You might never feel like you’re compensated enough for the work you do. Those aren’t unfortunate realities of the workforce; they’re unfortunate realities of your current workplace. And as any job hopper will tell you, there are thousands of other companies that could hire you, companies where you could achieve your career goals. You need to learn when to leap.