Oh, for the “good old days.” People went to work for a company right after high school or college, stayed with that company 25-30 years, and retired with a nice pension and social security. A new day has dawned. Corporations close their facilities and move overseas without much warning; within the past 10 years, hundreds of other American corporations have either eliminated or frozen their pension systems; many others have received permission from Congress to lower their benefit payouts.
At the same time, millennials who have entered the job market have goals and values that are often not compatible with long-term employment with a single organization. They value mobility, family and social lives, and are quite happy to change jobs quickly if there is an offer that honors their goals and values more.
Two-way loyalty is pretty much a thing of the past in the modern workplace. In fact the Bureau of Labor Statistics figures tell us that the average amount of time a millennial stays with an employer is 2-3 years. And recruiters and hiring managers are no longer looking negatively at a resume crowded with work experience.
Why Job Hopping is No Longer a Stigma
In most career fields today, there is a rapid learning curve and a far greater specialization of work. Companies hire specialists to fill small job niches, such as in IT. Two years later, that IT specialist is becoming a dinosaur in the industry. S/he needs to move on to gain more experience and to further develop his/her skill set. The same is often true for other industries as well. People don’t want to be “outdated” in a world where rapid change is changing the skills they need.
Another reason for job hopping, and one that employers and recruiters understand, is the fact that many graduates entering their career fields are unable to find their ideal positions. Even if their degrees are in high-demand fields, their first positions may not be the right “fit.” They settle for less temporarily until something better comes along. If they have been of value to their initial employers, moving on is not something for which they are condemned. Even lateral moves, in terms of salary, are not seen as a negative anymore, if the move places the “hopper” in a position more suited to his skill set and goals.
Benefits of Job Hopping
There are several real plusses to job hopping – plusses that make a potential employee more valuable, in fact.
1. Wider and Deeper Experiences:
Job candidates who have worked in a number of different environments and industries bring a much broader mindset to a new job, along with different ideas. Diversity of past project work can also be a big plus. And if that project work has been successful, it speaks to the ability to meet challenges and to see things through. These are soft skills that are valuable to employers.
2. Interpersonal Relationships:
The job hopper will have had experience working with a wider variety of personalities and, if s/he can demonstrate the ability to relate to all of those personality types successfully, his/her value increases.
3. Finding the Right Fit:
Workplace cultures and environments vary widely. And opportunities for learning and growth do as well. It is difficult to know these things up front. By “testing the waters” in a few different organizations, an individual will be able to refine his/her vision of the ideal position and, once found, can settle in for several years.
If each employment experience has been successful, there are professional relationships that are developed, many lasting for a career lifetime. Those relationships can be of great mutual benefit in the future. For example, an individual may lose his position through no fault of his own (e.g., a company closes its doors). Those relationships can be invaluable when a new position is sought.
Changing positions and companies for a larger salary is always one of the best reasons for job hopping. No one will ever hold it against a candidate who has moved several times for more money.
Always Leave Under Pleasant Conditions
While job hopping is becoming more and more typical, the wise employee will always leave an employer with goodwill intact. And, as well, that employee will have demonstrated his/her value to the organization with meaningful contributions.
The Future or Work – Exciting and Uncertain
Careers today are quite fluid. If an assembly line worker of 40 years ago had been told that his job would be obsolete by 2016, he probably would have laughed. But job and career obsolescence is occurring more rapidly than we could have imagined. In fact, some forecasters estimate that those who enter the work force today will probably have to re-educate themselves for new careers 3-4 times during their lifetimes of work. For the individual who has a positive attitude toward lifelong learning and who is flexible enough to see opportunity and change directions, the future of work will be an exciting one of new challenges.