FAQ: How Often Should You Change Careers?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated May 24, 2021 | Published January 13, 2021

Updated May 24, 2021

Published January 13, 2021

Related: How To Change Careers Strategically

Jenn, a career coach at Indeed, presents tips for strategically planning and executing a successful career change even without prior industry experience.

As you start gaining more workplace skills and abilities, you may feel your career interests shift. This can cause you to transition from one job to the other in order to find a career that you find enjoyable and challenging. Make sure you're changing careers an appropriate number of times to assure hiring managers that you can still commit to a role long-term. In this article, we'll answer frequently asked questions regarding how often you should change jobs.

How often should you change jobs?

The number of times you should change jobs typically depends on your needs and preferences for your role. You should change careers when you feel you're ready to work in a different position that feels more challenging or fulfilling. Sometimes, changing jobs every one to three years is acceptable to employers. There are other employers who believe it's typically best to change careers after at least three years in your role. Staying in your position this long usually tells future employers that you want a chance to learn new skills and develop additional strengths, but you're also still willing to commit to a role for a few years.

If you're happy in your role, you can stay in that position for as long as you desire until you're ready for a new opportunity elsewhere. Some people may even decide not to change their careers at all because they enjoy their position and company. Many people choose to change careers when they don't feel passionate in their role, they are ready to learn different skills or they want to work in a new industry.

Related: How Often Do People Change Careers?

Reasons people change their jobs

There are a large abundance of reasons employees may feel it's time for them to pursue new jobs. Common reasons people change careers include:

  • Higher compensation

  • Healthier work-life balance

  • Organization moved to a new area

  • Company outsourced their tasks

  • Reorganization to the company's structure

  • Collaborative and team-based company culture

  • More challenging or interesting job duties

  • More recognition or praise for achievements

  • Better match between personal and organizational values

  • Additional opportunities for career advancement

  • Different career goals and focus

  • Stronger company benefits and perks

  • Fewer overwhelming or stressful tasks

Can you change jobs too many times?

If you move throughout different roles without staying in them for a long enough time, employers may feel hesitant to hire you. This is usually because companies invest significant portions of time and resources into hiring, training and onboarding their employees, so they'd like to invest in employees who are interested in contributing to the company for a while.

Try to stay at a role for at least one to three years to show employers you can commit to a position long-term. Having several roles listed on your work experience may look more impressive to hiring managers if they're spread throughout a few years. For instance, changing your positions three times in five years may look more impressive to employers than moving throughout careers three times in one year.

Related: How Long Should You Stay at a Job?

Signs it may be time to change jobs

If you've been at your role for many years, you may feel you're ready to pursue a new career. Common signs it may be time to switch to a different job include:

  • Evolving career goals: There may be moments where your career goals involve advancing in your role or even in a different field, which may cause you to try other options.

  • Differing values and vision: You may realize your values and vision no longer match the company's, so you could look into other roles that better fit these.

  • Looking for a different company culture: If the employees at the current company you work at aren't as inclusive or collaborative as you prefer, you may consider working in an organization with a culture you fit in better with.

  • Craving more challenging tasks: After working at a company for a while, you may realize that you're unable to learn new skills or complete tasks that push or challenge you in your career. This may cause you to find a different one that will teach you new and unique skills.

  • Realizing your skills don't align with your role: You may realize in your role that your skills either aren't well-utilized or you may have strengths or interests that could be better suited in a different field or organization,

  • Wanting to explore a new job title or industry: Once you've gained a significant amount of experience in your position, you may see other roles and industries that seem more appealing to your interests that you could pursue instead.

  • Needing additional compensation: If you feel you deserve a higher salary than what you currently earn, you could pursue a different role that offers the compensation you feel your strengths and background are worth.

Related: How Often Should You Get a Raise? (With Tips)

What benefits can you get from changing jobs?

There are many advantages to regularly changing jobs when you feel you're ready to pursue a new opportunity. Common benefits to changing jobs include:

  • Strengthening your professional experience by exposing yourself to different roles and industries

  • Getting significant salary increases rather than waiting to receive smaller raises after several years in one role

  • Challenging yourself to advance and evolve your skill set by completing roles that have different or more complex tasks

How to explain why you changed jobs during interviews

Hiring managers may notice your regular job changes in your resume and wonder why you constantly transition to new roles. Your interview is a great time to explain that you changed jobs to improve your skill set, while also assuring them that you're committed to staying with a company long-term. Follow these steps to successfully explain why you've changed roles in the past during your interview:

1. Think about why you're pursuing a new role

Before attending your interview, you should prepare for employers to ask why you've frequently changed jobs, since they may notice this in the work history section of your resume. Think about your reasons for pursuing new positions. This could be that you're searching for a stronger company culture, job duties that better match your interests or opportunities to improve your skill level. Have these reasons ready so you can provide a sincere and professional answer if they ask why you've switched jobs so often.

Related: 5 Steps for Updating Your Resume in a Career Change

2. Explain what you're looking for in the ideal company

As you answer the question, mention the qualities you're searching for in a great company. You should also talk about why you believe their company fits these requirements. Try to emphasize to employers that a key reason you regularly change jobs is to find a company that meets your professional needs and preferences, advances your skill set and motivates you to commit valuable, long-term work to them.

3. Remain positive when mentioning your previous workplaces

When talking about your previous work experience and why you've chosen to change jobs, try to remain both honest and positive as you mention your previous job experiences, employees or supervisors. This is a great opportunity to show interviewers you can maintain professionalism and leave your roles on good terms. Mention that you enjoyed your previous role but are seeking one that offers an opportunity to widen your skill set, engage in more challenging tasks or experience a more collaborative company culture.

Related: How To Address a Career Change Before an Interview

Jenn, a career coach at Indeed, explains how to use a cover letter to explain a career switch and highlight the unique experiences and skills you bring.


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