Personal Finance

Job hopping can boost your career if you do it right

How to job hop like a pro
How to job hop like a pro

Gone are the days when you stay at one company for your entire career. And that's especially true for millennials.

As the largest generation in the workforce, millennials have embodied the term "job hopper." A 2012 PayScale report found the median tenure for a millennial employee was just two years, compared to seven years for a baby boomer. And a 2013 survey by Millennial Branding and, a career networking site, found 30 percent of companies lose 15 percent or more of their millennial workers within a year.

While changing jobs too often can make you look unstable, moving from one company to another can also be a great way to boost your salary, expand your skill set and build your network if you do it smartly. Here are some tips on how to job hop like a pro:

Weigh the salary versus the opportunity

"Millennials are all about temptations that they can do better," said Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding and author of "Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success."

If you're making a transition, you're probably hoping to increase your salary. But don't forget there are other ways to boost your earnings too, like performance-based compensation. "In a flat wage market, gaining a share in the performance of the company has a lot of value," said Joseph Blasi, a professor and sociologist at the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University and author of several books on work and capitalism.

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And it's not just about the money. Make sure to look closely at the actual work you'll be doing and not just the salary you're being offered. "You can't make a short-term hop if you don't know your long-term goal," said Schawbel. If the new job offers about the same amount of money but you get more responsibility, such as the opportunity to manage people, then that will expand your skill set and expertise. And that opportunity may be lead to a better-paying job down the road.

Know what you want

Be clear on why you're making this move and what you're hoping to gain from it.

Think about what's most important to you and make a list of priorities. In addition to your salary, consider the role, the company's work culture, benefits and flexibility. Figure out what's most important to you and where you'er willing to compromise. Do your research on the company to make sure it's a good fit. This way you'll have more information on the company culture and the ability to show the interviewer that you actually took the time to get to know the company.

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Being clear on what your priorities are can also help you negotiate when you get a job offer. Even if the company can't budge much on the salary, you can ask for additional vacation days or the ability to work from home some days.

And keep in mind that while the new role should benefit you, hiring you should also help the company. So make sure you're able to articulate what you'll bring to the job.

Leave on good terms

If you've negotiated a good offer and you're ready to make the leap, try to make the transition as painless as possible—for you and your current employer. It's a good idea to let your employer know as soon as possible to allow time to fill your position. According to Schawbel's research, it costs about $15,000 to $25,000 to replace each millennial employee. If you can help your employer find someone to fill your old position, that's truly leaving on good terms.

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"You never want to see that social capital or those relationships lost," said Blasi. You want to maintain those connections not only because it is your reputation on the line, but also in the event you want to return to the company. Millennials are more likely to boomerang back to their previous company than other generations. Nearly half of millennials said they would consider returning to their former employer, according to a survey.

While the goal with job hopping is to improve your career, there's a limit to how much it can benefit you if you do it too frequently. It's more common and acceptable to move around early on in your career as you are figuring out your path, but Blasi said, "at some point one needs to invest in a commitment and work to make the current situation a better situation."