Is job-hopping killer for your career, or is it the fastest way to six figures? I am going to share my experience and let you decide for yourself.
First, a little background in my career path. I do not have a degree. I went to a community college for a few semesters but quickly stopped when I discovered I didn’t need a degree to be successful in the IT field. I achieved several industry specific certifications in IT that have helped me along my journey.
I have held 9 different jobs in the last 7 years, all of which contributed to my success. I was always told to stay at a job for at least two years before moving to a new job, otherwise employers won’t want to hire you. That may have held true back when people got pensions and companies were looking at keeping employees until retirement, but in my experience job hopping was the fastest way to a six figure salary.
Did this ever prevent an employer from hiring me? I doubt it! Not when, in a ocean of under qualified candidates, a well-rounded and highly experienced person like myself was presented to them. I only know this because I have participated in the hiring process at most of my jobs. The amount of under-qualified IT candidates is staggering, but that will be for another blog post.
There are many factors that gave me the opportunity to explore this path, all of which boiled down to hard work: getting certifications, volunteering for the hard assignments just for the experience, never being afraid to leave a job, and always pushing myself to be better than those around me.
I started when I was 18 as a systems administrator working for a small medical office. I was not a good worker at the time, decided to leave the position, and ended up ignoring my college classes even more. However, my boss at the medical office inspired me to give a technology certification a try and I was studying every day for about 3 months for my CCNA. Once I achieved this certification he got me a job at his new employer, a small government contractor in my home town. I eventually left that $16 per hour job for a different contract company to make about $25 per hour.
Two years later I met my future wife but she lived in Denver, CO. I was motivated to leave my home town in California and venture to Colorado. I applied for many jobs and had a large number of phone interviews. I finally landed a position at a small company supporting a nonprofit that helped build banks in third world countries. I negotiated a nice raise of $70k per year.
I became restless there due to the mundane work and decided to start my own contracting company. I found one medium sized manufacturing company that supported me for a few months, but I ultimately couldn’t make it work.
I applied for a job with Comcast and was making about $75k per year. I lost my interest in Denver and we decided to move back to California.
I had two job offers in San Diego, one with AT&T and one with SAIC. I ended up taking the SAIC job for a cool $95k per year. I was stoked. Of course, when I got there and started working I noticed that most of the job was working on deprecated hardware and I was not learning anything! I had to get out.
I landed a job with Xerox working for the City of San Diego. This is where I took my first ever pay cut down to $82k per year. Although this was a hard decision for me, that job gave me a diverse amount of experience. The job required a huge number of hours. This is when I found out my wife was pregnant with our first kid. I needed a change of pace to accommodate my growing family.
I got a call from a government contractor near the bay area. After interviewing and receiving my offer, I was sold and moved north. It helped that I negotiated my largest jump in pay to date, and I was now in the 6 figures at the ripe old age of 24.
I have had two other jobs since then, each with a good increase. There were several factors that led me to my success, but if you don’t let fear drive your life and you are willing to be flexible in your circumstances you can really achieve the same results. Work hard, be honest, and kick everyone’s ass.