The word “job-hopping” always seems to have a negative connotation. Seeing regular job changes on a resume may cause an employer to think unfavourably of a potential hire due to a perceived lack of stability and commitment. Unfortunately, we don’t always get our dream job on the first try. If you realise that the job doesn’t meet your expectations or if you are feeling unhappy at work, should you stick it out in order not to be labelled a job-hopper?

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“Why should we settle?”  
If you’re being unfairly treated, or been deceived, of course you should quit, even if it has only been a couple of months. But as mentioned, we tend to leave our jobs for a lot less these days. And while job-hoppers are usually the bane of every employer’s existence, if the person in question is genuinely unhappy, it’s not hard to believe that he or she would cut their losses.

“If I know this isn’t what I want to do within three months, and that I was going to end up hating my job and my life, [I should] quit and move on,” says Shirley Tan*. Shirley is on her third job in under two years, and her longest employment stint lasted just 10 months. Ain Aziz also points out that unhappiness in the workplace is a two way street. “[If I cannot] perform at 100 percent, I think that’s bad not just for me, but the employer as well. They deserve a good employee who has the passion and who actually wants to be there.” She left her marketing job after a month because she felt “jaded and unfulfilled… the reason why I haven’t had solid footing at a job so far is simply because I haven’t found one that resonates fully with me just yet.” A common quality that Gen Y has is our lack of willingness to compromise. This is, after all, the time of #YOLO. If we’re not happy, why stay and drag our feet
to work for the unforeseeable future?

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“We’ve got options”
Two big reasons why quitting a job isn’t that daunting – one: most of us live with our parents, two: there’s a safety net of other options. For instance, if you don’t like marketing, you can try out sales. Shirley echoes this mentality by being open to “trying out different things to gain experience in different fields of work. You never know if you enjoy something until you actually try it.”

However, Sheldon Fernandez, Managing Director of jobsDB Singapore, has a different opinion. “Adopting this kind of attitude may [prolong the time it takes] to define your career path. It could also make it harder for you to achieve your goals,” he advises. “The better approach would be to develop an awareness of your passion points and skill sets to discern a progression plan that will play to your strengths.” So if you’re frustrated at work, Dinesh Balasingam, General Manager of Chope Singapore, suggests considering three factors: “management, work environment, and what you can get out of it if you stick it out. If at least one of those three are a positive, I would keep on working hard and see if things get better.” If you finally decide to put up the white flag, remember that the risk is yours to take.

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“Convince me otherwise”
But the reality is that when you’re trying to convince a prospective employer you’re worth taking a chance on, the appearance of job-hopping is not going to do you any favours. “Companies spend time and resources training new talent and recruiters will want to know that the investment will pay off,” says Sheldon. If you find that your long history is putting employers off, come prepared for your next interview to present yourself in a positive light.

For example, Sheldon points out that according to a survey run by jobsDB, “the top mistake made by job seekers is to list skills and prior work experience unrelated to the position they are applying for.” It helps to be selective and edit your resume.
Dinesh adds: “Ultimately, I wouldn’t want to lose out on a strong candidate due to a snap judgment… Tell me why you switched jobs and be honest, but rather than list excuses, try to tell me what you’ve learned and why you won’t be switching so quickly again.”

Image: alexskopje / 123RF.com, Unsplash
Text: Clara How
Additional text: Hidayah Idris