Research: Internal Moves Smarter Than Job Hopping

Research: Internal Moves Smarter Than Job Hopping

Job hopping has become more prevalent, especially as workers look for better paychecks and opportunities. But could you be making a mistake by leaving your current job, one that will hurt you financially and professionally in the long run?

New research from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania finds that workers who take advantage of different opportunities in their organizations not only get a pay raise with these moves, but they also receive greater responsibilities. This includes doubling the number of people they supervise and receiving a more advanced title.

While workers who job-hop to another company often get a pay raise, they don’t tend to also garner a bigger job title or more responsibility. Instead, the job is pretty much the same as their old job, and they are supervising about the same number of people.

Researchers say that while employees receive pay boosts with an internal job move, an external move may not have as much potential.

“[W]hen you move across firms, you get a pay raise — maybe 20%, or something like that. But what happens is, your time until the next promotion [is often delayed], so the trade-off there is a little more complicated. It does suggest that internal moves are quite important in moving ahead in your career,” says Matthew Bidwell, a management professor and one of the researchers.

Still, Bidwell says no one should believe that this means they shouldn’t accept a job at another company. You just need to be aware that while you’ll get a bigger paycheck, a promotion may be slower in coming.

“I get a bit nervous when people tell me about their career plans: ‘I’m going to go to this job. There’s not a lot of head room, but I’ll get great experience and I’ll use that experience to get hired into a higher-level job somewhere else.’ That turns out to be quite a hard transition to make,” he says. “So find a job where there is a room to grow inside the organization. You may not want to stay at that organization forever, but a least get a rung or two up the ladder, enabling you to move out to a higher rung elsewhere. That seems like a smarter career strategy.”

Recent research shows that while 83% of millennials admit that job hopping may not look so great on a resume to potential employers, 86% agree it won’t stop them from pursuing their professional or personal passions. 

Even baby boomers have about 11 job between age 18 and 48, no longer believing they can stick with an employer for 30 years and then collect a pension and gold watch.

But based on this new research, it may be a good idea to consider whether you’ve really plumbed the possibilities at your current company before making a leap.

“It is those internal moves that lead to advances in pay, rank and responsibility, and provide long-term gains in pay and satisfaction,” Bidwell says.


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