Job Hopping Without Fear and Anxiety

by Emilie Cleaver

In the past, I’ve done some pretty consistent job hopping. I’ve been able to easily change jobs in my field… And I’m not saying that’s always a good thing, but it is what it is. I have been able to do this without a lot of anxiety over it. I forget that most people don’t do this and it’s not uncommon for people to hold jobs for, say, several years (kind of unheard of for me, personally).

For a great read about job hopping vs. employer loyalty, including maternity leave as a consideration, check out this article.

One of the longer jobs I’ve held in my adult life was as a part-time nanny. I did that for a little over two years. I tend to like more unconventional jobs best, and loved the flexibility I had with that particular family. They loved that I loved their kiddos, so it worked out well for both parties. We still have a great relationship, long after I stopped being their nanny (due to the birth of my own little one).

Including that job, it’s never been uncommon for me to have up to FIVE jobs in one calendar year alone. At one time, I was working three jobs at once. Piecing together part-time positions to make ends meet was my specialty. I preferred it that way. I really don’t get anxious about starting new jobs; if anything I feel excited most of the time. This is how I’ve successfully navigated job hopping, with it working to my advantage for the most part.

Job hopping is easy because the basics in my career field are pretty consistent from job to job.

My degree is in mental health counseling. There are tons of paths you can take with this degree. These include working in addiction and recovery, to eating disorders, to family therapy, to individual therapy, to school-based therapy, and many, many other things in between. But no matter what you’re doing or where you’re doing it, you do it basically the same way. It’s all about effectively forming a safe relationship. You might even say that’s the golden thread (a phrase people like to use ALL THE TIME in the field). There’s an intake session, treatment planning, the actual therapy, writing therapy notes, discharging clients, and then you continue the cycle indefinitely with each new client. This is basically the same process, with some logistical variation, at most any place I would ever work in the mental health field. I know what I’m getting into.

Not every career change is like this. Some courageous souls make total career pivots into something they’ve never done before. Of course this would be anxiety-provoking! I have really never done this – though I’ve tried. Really hard. Like, over 100 applications to jobs in ANY other field I could think of to get me out of that one. But the universe had other plans for me. It turns out it’s really hard to get into a different field with a degree as specialized as mental health. Either that, or I’m just really bad at it.

I don’t burn bridges.

For the most part, when I leave a job, I end things very positively at my last position. I’ve always been told “you can come back any time.” Though I haven’t gone back to a job, except that one time I left my first fast food job at 17 years old to work at a different restaurant that turned out to be horrible, leaving on a positive note with the option to come back is always comforting. It’s kind of a safety net. Like, “if the next thing doesn’t work out, we’re still here.” And they might be just saying that, but it still makes me feel better.

Even when I really, REALLY can’t stand the thought of working at a job for one more day (and believe me, I’ve been there a lot), when I leave I always give at least a two weeks’ notice (typically 3-4 weeks, though) and remain cordial through my last day and beyond. I also try to tie up any critical loose ends when it comes to my actual work, so I’m not leaving the employer high and dry.

I fake it until I make it.

Overused sentiment? Yes. Helpful piece of advice? Also yes. I’ve always been a quick and eager learner with the mindset that I can learn to do any job (within reason). Even if I don’t know how to do everything a job entails, I do know how to advocate for myself and my needs. I am comfortable enough to ask when I need help. I’m not shy about speaking up for myself, but it took me years of my life (probably about 24 years, to be exact). I spent many years being extremely shy, timid, and self-conscious. To get to this point, it took a lot of self-reflection and working on myself.

Where I DO feel anxiety about job hopping:

All this talk about confidence in beginning new jobs isn’t to detract from the fact that I feel anxiety in another area of the job hopping process. A LOT of anxiety. That’s when it comes to leaving a job. When I decide to give notice at a job, I fret over it basically every second from the time I decide when my last day will be until I actually GIVE my notice, and oftentimes even after that until I leave for the last time. I think this stems from me thinking I’m disappointing and letting down the employer/my supervisor/my coworkers and I HATE feeling that way. It’s a stressful combination of guilt and relief. I get all sweaty and red, my voice gets shaky, and I get a pit in my stomach when I break the news to my supervisor. But once the words are out, it’s mostly a relief that I got it over with.

What else do you want to know about my serial job hopping experience? I don’t go into jobs intending to leave soon, by the way, that’s just how it’s worked out in the past. Are you a job hopper, or do you generally keep the same job for a while?

If you have anxiety about changing jobs, if you don’t know what kind job you’d even like to get into, but you know you’re unhappy with where you are, I’d love to talk about it with you during a 15 minute coaching discovery call.

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