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Whoever said, 'A rolling stone gathers no moss', certainly didn't belong to our times!

A few years ago, three or four jobs hops in 24-36 months on a resume would have spelt doom.

But the rules have changed.

A rolling stone now reaches faraway lands and for the good!

Says Astad Dhunjisha, manager, HR, ICICI, "The average job tenure has gone down drastically. Job hopping is not stigmatised anymore."

Jeevanand, web consultant with a leading portal, says, "The scene has changed so drastically that if you have been with a company for long, people begin to question your credibility."

That might be quite the other extreme.

But the fact remains that, these days, employers are much more tolerant to job-hopping.

When is it fine to job-hop?

Sherry, assistant manager, HR, Percept, says, "Job-hopping is more frequent and acceptable at the junior levels. Besides, it is seen as an asset or a liability, depending on the position applied for."

Meltan D'Costa, assistant GM, Hathway, seconds this, saying, "Job-hopping might be looked upon as an asset for a sales/ marketing position, which requires exposure to various markets. But for an operations/ accounts position, the job demands someone who has a more stable track record."

So hoppers, if it adds value to your job profile, go for it!

What motivates a hopper?

HR professionals and employees agree unanimously that the top reasons for quitting a job are: a better paying job, better job profile and career growth opportunities.

But besides these obvious positive motivators job dissatisfaction, untimely appraisals, odd work hours and personal problems are catching up as negative motivators.

Many believe that job-hopping in the initial years helps you test the waters.

Ritesh*, senior systems analyst, with six job hops in six years, says, "Job-hopping in the early years helps you explore various options, learn what you are cut out for, experiment with different genres and expose yourself to various work cultures before you makes a final decision to settle down."

Can HR do anything about it?

Job-hopping leading to the decrease in the overall life cycle of a job isn't exactly viewed as an ugly-faced monster.

Most believe that a moderate attrition rate is a necessary evil.

HR personnel across industries agree that a full-fledged retention strategy will bring down attrition rates.

Besides monetary compensations which can be matched easily by competitors, a competitive environment, a diverse profile where learning is possible and sense of fulfillment go a long way to make employees feel valued.

Says Manisha Kelkar, senior manager HR, WNS Services, "Youngsters need to be educated and made to realise that if they are looking to craft a career, they have to look beyond meagre monetary changes."

Job hops that seem frivolous could affect your career advancement in a big way.

How does one know when to hop?

For those who need adhesives to help them stick on to their jobs, there is something called a decent minimum interval, which makes it safe to roll on.

But the general rule that both employees and employers agree on is a minimum interval of one year at the junior level and two to three years at the senior levels.

Says Dharmesh, systems analyst, at a leading web site, "Job-hops help quick raises in the salary, but don't help you move up the ladder. But hanging on to your job works exactly the other way around."

So hoppers, choose what is important to you and roll with it!

Job hopper dos and don'ts!

Here are things you must keep in mind if your resume looks more like the central railway map with a halt at every station!

1. Don't change jobs for a meagre increase in salary (a few thousands), unless it is absolutely critical to your health.

2. Don't ever make the reason for your change of job seem trivial or unnecessary, but a rational conscious decision taken with caution.

3. At an interview, justify every career move in a rational way when asked.

4. Don't drop out jobs from your resume that you think will convey a negative impression. Highlight the positive outcome of each job shift. Masking your resume doesn't really help.

5. Always make a cost-benefit analysis of working with your present employer vis-a-vis working with the future one. The points to focus on are: money, designation, growth opportunities, work hours, work environment, etc.

If four or more are in favour of your new job, you can safely quit.

6. If you have hopped for positive reasons, highlight the achievements, the experience gained with the exposure, the personal and professional growth achieved, and employers will be more than eager to take you in.

7. Never belittle or defame your previous employer or your company and you mark them as the reason for your leaving the job. This attitude reflects lack of professionalism.

And, finally, remember: you can't keep hopping all your life!

Is there a stop to the hop?
What comes to mind here is the vision of a future so beautifully sketched by Alvin Toffler in his Future Shock.

As he sees it, in the world of the future, the job turnover rates will reach an all-time high.

An average 20-year old will change six to seven jobs in a lifetime.

People will not just have a career but serial careers, so to speak.

The job that each person does will be measured not just in terms of his/ her present job, but the 'trajectory' his/ her career has had.

Shocking? Not really!