How often are you changing jobs?

Since I work in the recruitment industry, I speak to people looking to make a job change daily. As the New Year commenced I saw an increase in the amount of enquiries from potential candidates looking to make a fresh start for 2013. So it made me wonder how often do people change jobs, organisations, careers AND why?

According to the latest Australian Labour Mobility statistics released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, less than half of the Australian working population have been in their job for 5 years or more. 56% of Australian workers have been in their job for less than 5 years and 20% have been in their current job for less than 12 months.

More than half of these job changes happened based on the choice by the individual, with 60% of men and 66% of women who changed jobs in the last 12 months doing so voluntarily. Most people went into similar jobs, with only around 5% of Australian Managerial staff and 10% of Australian Labourer staff who changed jobs also moved into a new career area. So with my recent career change, that puts me in the minority!

We of course all know that the number one reason people choose to change jobs is their immediate manager or work environment. But what are the other incentives people ask for when looking for a new job?

  • better pay or conditions
  • job security
  • closer to home
  • more (or less) responsibility at work
  • more (or less) flexibility at work
  • career advancement

For me what was most important was an increased flexibility. I worked in a job with an around the clock roster, which meant I was working strange hours and weekends most weeks. For me flexibility meant working business hours Monday to Friday so I could have time to pursue my outside of work interests. So my definition of “flexibility” is quite different to what others would be looking for.

For others, increased pay could be at the top of list of “must-have”. However, pay can only take you so far, because if you do not enjoy the job or the work environment how long will you stay content in the job before taking the next leap? And although a new job can help you with your career advancement, can too many new jobs in too short a time period make you look like your lacking commitment or unreliable to a future employer?

There are many advantages and disadvantages for making a job change, including:


  • develop your skills within different organisations or industry sectors
  • take the next step within your career
  • an increase in salary, depending on the new role you apply for
  • develop a new network of contacts within your industry to build your profile in the career area or industry


  • if you are changing jobs too frequently, will employers question your commitment or capability?
  • having to start from scratch – will you be able to develop the skills as quickly as you hoped if you are starting from scratch in new organisations frequently?
  • you may make a jump too soon, and realise you made the job change for the wrong reasons rather than for you really need in your career.

Whether a job change is a good or a bad thing for you career depends entirely on the individual and their career goals. Always think about where you want to go, what’s most important for you? And is it a job change that will allow you to realise this goal or looking for new opportunities within your current organisation? Because sometimes, as the song goes, it is better the devil you know.

Have you ever made a job change you regretted? What did you learn from the experience? Or what about one that was perfect for you? What advice would you give to those contemplating a job or career change?