Are you a job hopper? Here’s how to be good at it.

Changing jobs can improve your career. Here’s how to do it right.

Most employers strongly value loyalty in their workers, but that trait doesn’t always pay off for the employees themselves. Staying with one company for an extended period of time might keep the boss smiling, but it could result in various kinds of stagnation for the employee. Besides the potential for professional boredom, there’s also the danger of missing out on growth — both in terms of salary and responsibility — that could come from moving on.

Whether you’re a seasoned job-hopper or you’re simply thinking about becoming more mobile in your career, there are a few important things to keep in mind so you don’t come off as unreliable to potential employers. Keep these things in mind to make job-hopping work for you.

Don’t Over-Hop.

So we’ve established that job-hopping isn’t necessarily negative. But there’s still the danger of over-hopping. If you’re switching jobs every few months, most recruiters will assume that you can’t or won’t stick around when the going gets tough. It’s a good idea to stay at each job for at least two years to show that you are willing and able to commit a respectable amount of time to each position.

Explain Yourself.

There’s a good chance that recruiters will have some questions about shorter stints on your resume. Why did you only stay there for six months? Why’d you switch to that job? It’s critical that you be prepared with an answer that will put their doubts about your suitability to rest. Stay positive when you talk about past employers — even if it was a nightmare experience — and explain your reasoning honestly and concisely. And concisely is key here; an overly detailed explanation may come off as too defensive. Keep it short and sweet.

Stay on a Steady Track.

If your resume seems too scattered, potential employers may question your commitment to your career. If you’ve worked jobs in various unrelated fields or you’ve moved up, down, and back up again between levels, you won’t come off as a worker with a clear sense of what you want. If, for whatever reason, you have jumped around in a questionable way, be prepared to explain why. For instance, you may have wanted to strengthen your skills in a particular area in order to further your career down the road, or you felt that understanding a parallel industry would make you stronger in your field.

Don’t Burn Bridges.

When you’re moving between various companies in the same field, it’s imperative that you maintain healthy relationships with past employers and colleagues. You will run into these people at some point or another, and you may even need their help in the future, whether through a reference or even consideration for a new position in a company where you’ve worked before. Give plenty of notice when you leave a company, keep things civil, and stay in touch. Past employers are an integral part of your professional network, so treat them as such.

Whether you feel the itch after nine months, two years, or 20, only you can decide when it’s time to move on. Just be sure that your reasoning is sound enough that you can back up your decision when you’re interviewing for future jobs.