Paul Gallagher is director – professional services for the finance & accountancy, HR and legal divisions at Kelly Services Hong Kong.
Jumping from job to job may benefit you in the short term, but could jeopardise your management career
I’ve been working in Hong Kong in various industries as a manager for the last five years. Although I’ve been working continuously, I’ve switched jobs three times in the last 18 months. There were various reasons for the moves, such as external headhunting, company restructuring and retrenchment. Now in the third month of my current job, I’m thinking about a move because I feel I am able to earn more elsewhere. However, I’m aware that this could look bad on my CV and wanted to ask: How long should one stay in a management position to avoid a bad reputation? I wouldn’t want potential employers to suspect that my contract was terminated.
There are various schools of thought regarding how long one should stay in a job before taking on a new challenge, or moving up the corporate ladder elsewhere.
I would argue that it takes, at the very least, 18 months in a management position to fully understand the role, the company, the challenge, and to really achieve goals. This is all subjective, however, and there are highly diverse management positions in Hong Kong.
From analysing the information you have offered, your decision to move three times in the last 18 months gives the impression that you are very “jumpy” to potential employers. I say this with all due respect. Looking at your decision-making from a distance, it seems as though one of your moves was intentional (perhaps due to an opportunity presented to you by a headhunter) and the other two moves were imposed upon you.
You are responsible for your own choices, and your job-hopping gives the impression that you may have made some poor decisions when choosing your previous roles or companies.
The fact that you want to move again after only three months would suggest to me you are both jumpy and very money-motivated. All of these factors will raise red flags to potential employers.
One of the things that multinational and local companies in financial services and commercial industries look out for (and avoid) when recruiting for management positions is a job hopper. “Jumpiness” suggests a lack of commitment to a company or a role, and possible money-motivation issues.
I understand young professionals want to move up the corporate ladder as soon as possible, and I know the competition is tough, but it is important to realise that employers want committed individuals who have worked hard, shown responsibility and achieved in their previous roles.
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as The perils of persistent job-hunting.