How Often do People Change Jobs? (And Why?)

By Biron Clark


Data & Studies

Biron Clark

Biron Clark

Writer & Career Coach

We surveyed 2,100+ professionals regarding their job change habits and frequency, in an attempt to answer two questions:

  1. How often do people change jobs?
  2. Why do people change jobs?

Below, we’ll share our findings.

How Often do People Change Jobs?

On average, people change jobs every 2.73 years, or approximately every two years and nine months.

Below, you’ll find a more detailed breakdown of how often the average person changes jobs:

  • 42% changed jobs every one to two years.
  • 31% changed jobs every four years or more.
  • 23% changed jobs every three years.
  • 4% reported changing jobs more than once per year.

62% of People Have Left a Job in the First Year

We also asked another simple question: Have you ever left a job within one year of starting? 62% of professionals reported leaving at least one job within the first year.

So while the average job tenure is 2.73 years, more than half of the professionals we polled left at least one job within a year.

Why Do People Change Jobs? Common Reasons

Next, we asked about peoples’ reasons for leaving past jobs.

The most common reasons that people change jobs are finding a better opportunity, leaving a toxic environment, and a lack of room for professional growth.

Below, you’ll find the exact breakdown of the top reasons people leave jobs, based on the percentage of professionals who reported leaving a position for each reason at least once in their career:

  • 55% found a new, better job opportunity.
  • 43% indicated a toxic work environment/culture.
  • 41% indicated a lack of opportunities for professional growth in their current job.
  • 36% resigned due to being underpaid and/or not receiving salary raises.
  • 32% left due to a boss.
  • 30% left a job due to being laid off.
  • 30% wanted to change careers.

Less-common reasons for leaving a position include the following:

  • Being a family member of an active-duty service member and needing to relocate the family.
  • A company’s business needs shifting and the employee’s role changing without their desire to change.
  • Seeking a better commute.

What Percentage of People Change Careers?

30% of the 2,100+ people in our survey changed careers at some point in their professional lives.

This is in line with my first-hand observations from working as a recruiter for five years; I’ve observed that approximately one-third of professionals have made a career change in their professional lives.

While it’s common to change careers, it’s still more common to stay within one industry and career path, since career change brings challenges, risks, and sometimes a temporary salary reduction.

If you’re considering changing careers, research the career path and industry you’re considering so you know what you’re getting into, and then trust your gut and follow your instinct.

Even though fewer than half of people change careers, I still recommend it in many cases…

Changing careers can bring you more room for upward growth, help you escape a shrinking/dying industry, and bring new excitement and passion to your work.

Some of the more common industries that I see people changing into include software development and digital marketing.

For further career change statistics, I recommend this article by Apollo Technical.

Do Younger Workers Change Jobs More Often?

We did not ask respondents to report their age in the polls mentioned above; however, as a former recruiter, my experience is that younger professionals do change jobs more often than older generations.

Older generations, like baby boomers, were told that job-hopping looks bad on a resume and that you should never leave a job within one year.

It’s becoming more acceptable to switch careers or take new jobs at a higher frequency, though.

Younger professionals are realizing that if they’re sure they want a career change or new job, there’s little sense in remaining in a position for a full year just to improve their resume.

Good Reasons to Make a Job Change Immediately

The advice that you should stay in every job for at least one year is outdated and dangerous/harmful.

There are many reasons to start a job search or take a new job immediately.

Good reasons for joining a new company/job immediately include:

  • Your current job is taking a toll on your mental health.
  • The role changed and is different than what you wanted to do when you were hired.
  • You’ve been given a new, dream job opportunity and you’ll look back and regret it if you don’t take the role.
  • You’ve been offered an opportunity that pays significantly more money, which will greatly improve your quality of life and financial situation.
  • You’ve decided to transition away from your current career to a new type of work.
  • You’re relocating and your current role cannot be performed remotely.
  • Your current employer is going through layoffs/downsizing and you don’t want to take the risk of being laid off in the near future.

Those are just some of the situations when you should change to a new position even if you’ve spent less than one year in your current role.

Looking back on my own career, as someone who has changed careers multiple times, I don’t regret any job changes. I regret staying in positions I was unhappy in.

However, if your job isn’t harming your physical or mental health, consider looking for a job while employed instead of quitting with no job lined up.

Continuing in your same job will give you a steady paycheck and more confidence in your job hunt. You’ll have less pressure and more time to look for the right new position.

Also, if you love your company but feel your role is no longer a fit, consider talking to your manager about whether this same company may have a different team/role that fits your goals better.

How Often is Too Often to Change Jobs?

To wrap up, I’m going to help you decide: How often is too often to change jobs?

The answer depends on your total years of experience and other factors.

Employers look at your resume and job history as one big picture. They only see job-hopping as an issue if it seems to be a pattern.

If your average number of months in a position is 12-24+, that’s good.

Then, if you left one job in three months because you knew that it wasn’t a good fit, that’s fine.

In this case, you did the right thing by not wasting a full year in a role that you knew wasn’t a fit!

So the key here is to be strategic and limit how often you’re doing this. Pick and choose the scenarios when it makes sense to make quick job changes, and when it’s not worth it.

But do take that better job, or leave that toxic environment ASAP when needed.

Try to keep your average number of months in each position at 12-24 or above, and you’ll be unlikely to scare off any potential employers… even if you’ve left one or two positions in less than a year.

Further reading: How to explain job-hopping to employers.

Biron Clark

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