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Young, restless and successful – why job hopping still works for Gen Y in Asia

It’s that time of year again in Hong Kong. Bonuses have been paid and those looking for greener pastures have moved or are in the process of doing so.

A friend of mine recently changed jobs – not surprising in itself, except that he’d only been in his previous position for just over a year, and had only lasted two years in the one before that.

Come to think of it, a number of my other acquaintances also fit this bill: they are serial job hoppers. So what’s their plan and why do they do it?

Their time horizon is usually one to two years and with each move comes better pay and possibly a promotion. They are taking advantage of a tight job market, and by all accounts are doing well financially.

But is this a sound strategy?

If my inbox is anything to go by, the job market is heating up again, and it’s not just the usual, seasonal musical chairs.

I’ve recently received mass emails from recruitment agencies (who I haven’t heard from for ages) encouraging me to “take advantage of exceptional opportunities” or “pass on any industry contacts who would be interested”. These are usually for entry to mid-level roles, such as assistant relationship managers or business analysts.

Is it a good strategy to pursue these opportunities if you’ve only recently settled into your current role? I think that depends on what your goals are and (crucially) what stage in your career you are at.

At an entry level, you are still learning the business and potential employers might not mind whether you’ve done six years at the same employer, or three two-year stints in similar roles at different firms. Conversely, at senior levels, firms may want to see sustained achievement and commitment in previous roles, which is hard to demonstrate if you only stayed a year or two.

Moreover, compared with senior positions, hiring managers usually have greater discretion on pay decisions for junior jobs. Large percentage increases for less experienced bankers come off a lower base and are thus more likely to fly under the radar.

My job-hopping acquaintances have managed to both progress up the banking career ladder and increase their compensation in a relatively short time. For some, it seems that job hopping does work.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of eFinancialCareers. The author is a banker in Hong Kong.

If you’re based in Singapore, Hong Kong or China and would like to write a column, please email apac.editor@efinancialcareers.com with a brief description of your article idea.

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