Is job hopping (of the voluntary kind) good for your career?

Is it better for your career to switch jobs every couple of years or to stay put?

There are some career experts out there who recommend you switch a job every two to three years to keep your career from getting stagnant. I think that can work out in some instances, but I also think job changing shouldn't be done for that reason alone.

A TechRepublic member wrote to me describing his (successful) experience at job-hopping:

I have no way of measuring how much my frequent job moves have benefited (or hurt me) but I know I've avoided the downsizing axe at least once and every time I moved I felt an immediate bump in salary. Not only that, new challenges are always welcome and I have rarely felt restless in a role for very long.

In fact, I had previously left my current employer back in 2006 after two years because I was told that due to HR policies I would see my miniscule salary continue to inch up 2.5% at most per year, and there were no other job opportunities within the department. When I returned at the end of 2008 after three different jobs since my departure, my salary jumped almost 35% and the role itself was more interesting and challenging.

His purpose in writing was to find out if this experience was a typical one. I'd say the writer was probably destined for job success not because he switched often but because he had a good reason to switch -- he desired a bigger challenge. People who like to be challenged are often successful as a byproduct of their need to do and learn more.

I told him I'd give a shout out to our audience and find out what your experience has been with switching jobs. Do you think it puts you in a more marketable position to (voluntarily) switch jobs often?

By Toni Bowers

Toni Bowers is the former Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.