Job Hop Through Your Career or Wait For the Gold Watch? How Workforce Mobility Has Changed

Posted on Wednesday, July 20th, 2016 by

Job Hop Through Your Career or Wait For the Gold Watch? How Workforce Mobility Has ChangedIt is no surprise in this rapidly changing world that the behaviour of the workforce will change along with it. You had a job for life thirty years ago, now it can be as little as eight months. But has it gone too far the other way? Is it possible to make a mark with a company or even gain enough experience to move on to the next role in less than a year? What is the optimum time to stay in a job in today’s market and does the answer depend on how old you are?

In research conducted by YouGov, on behalf of The Institute of Leadership & Management, almost one in five (19%) new recruits are currently actively looking for a new role but this may be more because they are not happy with the way they are treated as a newbie rather than rapidly moving along a chosen career path. Trying to distinguish between the two is not easy but it is increasingly accepted that a job for life has now been consigned to the past.

According to Monster, job hopping is more acceptable and more common for employees in their 20s and 30s whereas those in their 40s and 50s tend to move less, being more established in their careers and they are closer to the generation where staying put was the norm.

Types of workers

 Terina Allen has suggested that there are essentially 3 types of employee – the job hopper, the job clingers and the steady workers. It is perfectly acceptable to be any of these types or even change mid-career, if you are clear about why you’re in that group and what it might be doing for your career. You would be considered a job hopper if you work in a series of different jobs (at different companies) for 18 months or less. Steady employment is defined as working in a series of different jobs, for between two to four years or longer. Finally, job clinging is being at the same company for a period of five years or more with little to no change in title, job responsibilities or salary.

Job hopping is more acceptable in the current business climate but can vary between industries. What is acceptable and considered normal in one industry can be regarded with great suspicion in another. Platforms such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor can be valuable tools in researching your chosen profession and what the current job mobility rates are.

Career advancement or salary improvement are not the only reason people move jobs and redundancy has clearly paid a part in increased mobility in recent years. The carrot and stick career path is one that most people have experience of and the unavoidable job moves must be recorded on the CV in the same way as the career advancement ones. Gaps in a CV can be red flags as much as frequent moves; the key is to explain all anomalies.

Side effects

 There are two unexpected consequences of job hopping that should be taken into account when you’re contemplating your next career move, although as one is positive the other negative in financial terms, perhaps they balance one another out to a certain extent. The first is that you are far more likely to earn more in your career if you move jobs often than those that stay put and secondly, keeping track of your pension pot through multiple job moves can be very difficult.

According to those who remain in a job too long get paid 50% less than counterparts who leave and start anew role elsewhere. As a new starter, you are in a better position to negotiate a higher salary while those that stay put are subject to the annual pay rise and nothing more. In 2014, the average employee received a 1% pay rise while the average increase an employee receives for starting a new role is between 10% to 20%. That could add up to a significant sum over a working life time.


While the UK gets used to the new Workplace Pension rules while also adapting to increased job mobility, it is no surprise that pensions have become a thorn in the side for job hoppers. Over half (56%) of people recently surveyed have more than one pension pot and nearly one in ten have four or more – a figure which rises to one in four for those aged over 55.At the moment, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) estimate that there is £3bn sitting in lost pension pots but, with auto enrolment, this number could rise to a staggering £757bn.

Many workplace pensions only kick in after someone has been in the role for a year, so for job hoppers, moving on after a few years, there are potentially many small pension pots floating around and hard to keep track of. The new pension rules make it hard to transfer pensions from one employer to another because of extra charges and also companies prefer to pay into the same scheme for all their employees. Many younger workers are less concerned about their pension while retirement seems such a long way off so they may be in danger of ignoring the issue until it is too late to rectify the problem in later life.

A new report on behalf of LV= by PCP Market Research has revealed that employees today will work longer over their lifetime than their grandparents and earn less than their parents with the typical worker entering the UK labour market today having on average nine jobs and one complete career change, across 48 years of their working life.

The future

In conclusion workforce mobility is increasing but still varies according to age and industry. When you consider the research by Payscale that only 13% of millennials (born between 1982 & 2002) believe that workers should stay in a job for at least 5 years while 41% of baby boomers (born between 1946 & 1964) do, the age gap variation is clear.  And when 26% of millennials believe that you should only stay in a job for a year or less before moving on, maybe the trend is moving towards even more mobility in the future.

Perhaps the last word should be with Robin Chase, Founder of Zip Car reflecting on workforce mobility when he said “My dad had one job his whole life, I’ll have seven, and my kids will have seven jobs at the same time.”


At Chapple we specialize in sourcing candidates in external and internal communications, employee engagement, change and business transformation roles.

Contact us on 020 7734 8209 for more information about how we can help you find your next role or indeed find the right people for your business.