You might have read news articles or watched TikToks about “job hopping” — a term used to describe the practice of switching jobs often. This is arguably currently most present in the tech industry and is now being described by many as an advantageous tactic. Folks report major increases in their salaries with every job switch, dramatically influencing their earning ability quickly. It’s an increasingly attractive concept when anecdotes are shared amongst friends and influencers detailing how they became high wage earners just a few years into their careers rather than taking a more traditional approach and “paying their dues” through many years in their chosen industry.
Job hopping is tied largely to the Great Resignation, the phenomenon of employees re-evaluating their lives and careers after the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and leaving their jobs as a result. Attitudes about jobs born out of the Great Resignation, coupled with higher starting salaries in many sectors to incentivize hiring, have created the “perfect” storm for many job hoppers. According to a Pew Research Center analysis, 60% of workers who switched jobs from April 2021 to March 2022 enjoyed increases in earnings.
Employers who do not improve wages or general conditions for their employees can do little else to compete; during that same period, only 47% of those who stayed in their jobs from 2021-2022 saw a real increase in their earnings beyond inflation, if they even got inflation raises. These salary increases can be compounded with every job switch, as workers have been recognizing and asserting their value more and more in the past few years. And since many employers faced shortages in light of the Great Resignation, workers enjoyed more bargaining power than before during the 2021-2022 cycle.
So, a person who changes jobs several times within a span of say, two years, can work this dynamic to their advantage to get what they want out of their careers. These career gains don’t have to just be monetary. A person might be able to establish themselves as a full-time remote worker within their area of expertise who can live in a cool, decked out van and travel across the United States. A person might be able to set the expectation of unlimited paid time off because they enjoyed that at their past few jobs. And, put simply, job hopping can give the person the confidence that if they are unhappy with their current job, they will be able to secure a new one; after all, they’ve already done it before!
This is a shocking departure from the almost-taboo attitude about job hopping pre-pandemic. Too many frequent job changes can be seen as a red flag; employers might argue that it shows a lack of commitment, inability to get along with others, or unpredictability. It can be hard to explain frequent job changes in cover letters or job interviews. Some employers will not move forward at all with an applicant who has switched jobs too frequently. Of course, this might still be true in your own professional circle. Perception about job hopping varies from employer to employer, and from industry to industry. Plus, with layoffs and job shortages being reported nationwide, it’s unclear how long job hoppers have to ride this wave. Just this week, Meta laid off over 11,000 employees.
And aside from professional considerations that come from job hopping, there may be legal considerations as well. Are you a contracted employee who has to stay in your role for a specified amount of time, or are you at-will like so many Texans and can leave when you choose? Are there work-product provisions in your employment agreement that a former employer might argue you violated by going to work for a competitor? Might they argue you violated company policy by preparing job application materials on your company computer, or interviewing on company time? Maybe their feelings are hurt that they’re losing you, their brightest shining star, and they’re withholding your last paycheck and you don’t know how to get it back.
For answers to any of these questions, contact our offices in Austin or Houston to speak to one of our talented employment attorneys to see if job hopping may be a legal pitfall for you.