28 Jun

The Pros and Cons of Job Hopping for Accountants

These days, employees see job hopping — generally defined as changing roles every one to two years — as acceptable. A recent Robert Half study reveals that of the workers surveyed, 64 per cent believe switching jobs frequently can benefit their career. The younger and more educated the respondents, the more positively they feel about job hopping.

But many employers don’t agree. Forty-four per cent of the CFOs surveyed said they avoid job applicants who can’t seem to stay put. To hop or not to hop? To help you decide, here are some pros and cons.

Benefits of job hopping

Some may be surprised that 20 per cent of the executives surveyed for the survey actually prefer candidates who have job hopped. Here are some reasons it can be a positive career move for accountants:

Broad exposure. Every time you change companies, you experience different accounting technologies and another workplace culture. This means job hoppers often have a wider perspective of their field leading to expanded skill sets.

Flexibility. Job hoppers are no strangers to change. Accounting firms and departments are eager to hire professionals who can easily adapt to new clients, processes, system software and regulatory mandates. Having flexibility is a trait that appeals to many hiring managers.

Bigger circle of contacts. By working for different companies and clients, job hoppers improve their business networking skills and gather new contacts in the process. Networking know-how can help you rise quickly in your accounting career. 

Career advancement. Rather than waiting around for a promotion, job hoppers actively go after one by seeking new roles with more responsibilities – and the commensurate higher salary.

Drawbacks of job hopping

Despite all the professional and financial benefits, changing jobs every year or so can come at a cost. Here’s why:

Negative perception. Recruiting workers and training new hires is an expensive and time-consuming business. Firms may hesitate to spend resources on candidates who are unlikely to stick around for long. A series of short stints on a CV suggests to employers you’re difficult to get along with or are a flight risk.

Breadth not depth. By constantly moving on, accountants are exposed to new systems and different practice areas – but not for very long at a time. This means that while job hoppers often have a wide range of knowledge, they might lack the expertise and proficiency to use it fully.

Superficial connections. Job hoppers don’t hang around one place long enough to develop meaningful relationships. In practical terms, your larger network may not be as effective as you think it is when you try to tap your contacts for introductions and other favours.

Make the most of your current role

Think long and hard before jumping ship. Are you eager to quit because you dislike the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system the company uses? That could be because you haven’t mastered it yet. Leaving now could be a lost opportunity to become an expert user.

Are you impatient that you haven’t moved up the ladder yet? Try asking your boss for a promotion and raise before you launch yet another job search. Your CV may look better if you can show future employers that you have staying power.

In short, explore in-house options before moving on, especially if you’ve been at the job for less than two years.

How to resign gracefully

If you believe changing jobs is the right thing to do, end on a good note. Give your employer a proper notice period and wrap up any outstanding projects — or at least get them in good enough shape to hand off to the next person. Don’t burn bridges. Not only will you need a good reference later on, but you also never know when you and former bosses will cross paths again.

A job hopper’s CV needn’t raise red flags. Demonstrate how you’ve added value to each company you’ve worked for. Provide examples of how you’ve grown professionally, taking on progressively more responsibility and bigger challenges.

The bottom line: Job hopping is both a good and bad way to advance your career. So don’t be afraid to embrace your ambitions, but think long-term before you leap.

This article is provided courtesy of Robert Half, parent company of Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Robert Half Management Resources. Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised staffing firm placing accounting and finance professionals on a temporary, full-time and project basis. For Robert Half career and management advice, follow roberthalf.co.uk/blog.

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