When to switch jobs to get the biggest salary increase

For job hoppers, knowing when to move on is a fraught question. Leaving too soon may appear flighty; staying too long can lead to calcification.

ADP, the payroll processing company, analyzed salary information for 24 million private-sector workers, including those who switched employers, in the first quarter of 2016. They found the biggest salary bump comes after employees stay put at least two years, but not more than five. The longer you stay past five years, the less growth you’ll see in pay at your next employer. (But it’s also true that as you accumulate experience, your salary should grow at your current employer, making big jumps in pay less likely.)

Overall, job switchers in the first quarter saw a 6% wage increase, with the biggest gains coming from the youngest workers. Employees under 25 saw a 11% gain if they changed jobs. The sectors where the increases were the largest were leisure and hospitality; trade, transportation and utilities; and information technology. The only field where average salaries declined for job switchers was in natural resources and mining, where a downturn in oil and gas prices has been hammering wages across the industry.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported ADP analyzed salary information for 24 million workers who switched jobs. The company looked at data for 24 million workers in total, including those who switched jobs.

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