Job Hopping: A resume doesn’t tell the whole story

I’ll start by saying this, I agree with Mark Suster’s points to never hire job hoppers, but, sometimes there is more to a story than a resume holds. And, according to Jason Calacanis, I might be a Gen Y Trophy Kid, but, in my opinion, there is more to it than meets the eye in some cases. My thoughts and opinions are those of my own and I will always stand behind them, but I do apologize in advance if this post offends anyone or is in fact unhappy with the stance.

Hopping: Sometimes, there are good reasons

I’ve had a few jobs in my career, actually, I’ve had a few more jobs than I would say that I actually would have liked to have. The first company I worked at when I was real young, I was there for almost 5 years, learned a lot, earned a lot, and needed a new challenge. To be quite honest, I had to leave that company because I hit a ceiling and wanted to pursue bigger and better things. I needed to take a risk and I was young and not many jobs were being waved at a 23 year old from a small tech school with 5 years experience in technology consulting and leading sales and marketing. So, I joined one organization, that started to tank and another that inevitably was not the right fight.

Just as employers don’t see certain individuals as the right fit after a couple months, I’ve been on the flip side where I’ve noticed that it was no where near the right opportunity for me and called it a day. It goes both ways.

At a Dealmaker Media event recently about hiring, that sentiment echoed loud and clear: If someone isn’t working out, it’s time to let that person go and move on, rather than trying to make it work, because it never does.

I completely agree with that, if it’s not working out, let that person go, otherwise, you would be wasting time trying to make a bad situation work, and it NEVER does. I’ve been in that situation before and had to let people go. But, I think the one thing that we have to recognize is that it has to go both ways, employers have to be loyal to an extent and employees really need to stop hopping from jobs.

We’ve seen companies like Yahoo!, Microsoft, etc. lay off hundreds, if not thousands of workers at a time. During times like those, and watching departments get phased out, it is hard to sit there and think that you are not going to be the next one. This is especially true when see more than 10 people (or 50%) on a team cut, or even worse, everyone sitting around you get cut. It is a very depressing and lonely feeling that does not help morale when you are sitting in a cubicle farm with no one around, feeling like you are the only one on an island. It is the killer of all momentum and I’ve heard and watched people become complacent because of it.

I’m not saying either side is right or wrong during a layoff, but rather, my point is that employees now at days don’t feel as loyal to larger and “safe” organization. Especially those that are hungry and want to make an impact, it is draining and the killer of career momentum.

Looking to the future: Foresight is crucial

Having foresight is important, it is what helps people find business, job, and investment opportunities. It is what makes many of the Silicon Valley elite who they are and as successful as they are. Which is why it is unbelievably important to know when it is time to join and when it is time to leave a company.

Foresight can be clouded though when money is thrown at you and/or the opportunity of being part of a startup that sells.

It is important to know when to join a company, look to your mentors for advice, and important to see past the $$$. And yes, we all make mistakes and bad decisions sometimes, but, it’s important to learn from them.

Aside from that though, it is important to know when a job has reached a ceiling for you and there is no movement, no learning, no progression and no way to advance, at that point, there are no options BUT to pursue another opportunity. Sure, you could attempt to move around in a large organization like a Yahoo! or PayPal, I did it with PayPal. But, at the end of the day, you’re not taking leaps, your not making jumps, you’re taking baby steps horizontally.

When you stop learning and when you stop growing as an individual and professional, it is time to go, bottom line. Otherwise, you are caught being complacent for multiple years with nothing to show.

Being complacent and comfortable is what kills many people from actually making major career moves. I’ve talked to many former colleagues that were laser locked on the fact that they had a stable job of 3-4 years, only to get lost in the mix, be cut during a round of layoffs or be looked past during a promotion. The end up being left laid off or quitting after some time with a proprietary skill set and/or lack of knowledge of new technology, leaving them in a dead end.

Staying Power: I get it.

The one thing that I completely get and understand is the thought of staying power. I will end it on this because it is something that I feel is extremely important. There are many reasons to leave an organization. I’ve mentioned them all above. I have left organization for fear of losing a job and being left with nothing and left because I was at my ceiling. But, what I have never done, is leave an organization for the sole reason that I was going to make more money. I’ve taken 2 pay cuts in my career because of my thirst for knowledge and I would take another in the distant future for a great opportunity of a startup of my own. But, it is important not to make dollars the only decision to moving on to a new opportunity, because that is where you get caught job hopping too much to make a quick buck. It is not a long term strategy. Leaving a job for a better opportunity to learn more, obtain more visibility, and long term career growth is understandable, and, if you are going to get a big salary jump doing so, more power to you. But, don’t make that your soul reason, ever.

When you are young and talented, jobs come at you constantly. Recruiters constantly hound you, startups want your talent, and people can sense a hunger for growth. Bigger companies will throw tons of money at talented individuals to fill gaps and even help lead teams. The important thing is not to let this blur your long term vision and hurt your career growth. Think about 10 years down the line or even 20 and how that opportunity will play a roll in your overall career.

The Story: A Resume can’t speak to you

There are definitely situations where recommendations are taken into account and track record. Many times the personal story is already known by the hiring manager or startup CEO. But, I can tell you that there are definitely a few diamonds in the rough when it comes to talented individuals who have changed a few jobs before the age of thirty, or even after. If your gut says no, then stick to it. But, it might be worth a phone screen sometimes, you might learn something you didn’t know. Or better yet, find something unexpected out in a story that a resume just doesn’t tell.

Please follow me on twitter to keep the conversation going.

What do you think about job hoppers? What is your story with hiring a job hopper or being one? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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About Tony Adam