This Gen Xer’s Thoughts On Job Hopping

I am an old. I will fully admit I am an old. A proud Gen X-er. One way that colors how I see the world of work is that I look askance at job hopping. I fully admit that I shouldn’t. As a manager, the people who work for me job hop all the time. Most folks – at least the Millennials I have on my team – stay in a job about 2 years these days. They are talented, capable, skilled, and really great workers! And yet, I still mentally ding them for job hopping. As if it will catch up with them one day.

Perhaps it will, but if it does now, I don’t see that indication yet, and they don’t seem to care. Obviously, if someone leaves my team after 18-24 months to take another job, that other hiring manager doesn’t care about longevity and loyalty. So I’m guessing it doesn’t impact their careers, and so I continue to conclude that I’m the old-fashioned one here and that this particular bias of mine is one I just need to ignore.

Actually, I can think of one way it impacts their careers.

There’s one employee who had job hopped about every 18 months since they finished their master’s, and has continued to job hop since leaving my team. They contact me every few months giving me a heads up that they are competing for a Manager-level position, and they never end up getting those jobs. I would bet it’s because it’s hard to accept that someone is ready to manage a team when they haven’t worked on it long enough to see the full life cycle of projects and ebb and flow of work. Or maybe that’s the Gen Xer bias of mine talking?

I try REALLY hard not to (openly) judge Millennials for job hopping. I try so hard not to let it influence my hiring and coaching decisions. I KNOW that what they’re up against – an ever-shifting career landscape that provides no more stability, no more pensions, major reorganizations every couple of years, no cost-of-living adjustments, and so on. So I was pleased to read “In Defense of Job Hopping” in Thrive Global the other day.

It was a good reminder that there is so much more that we Gen Xers have in common with Millennials’ struggles than what little separates us. For instance, Gen Xers invented job hopping. (Typical, that we’re getting overlooked!)

We also are the original workforce generation looked down upon as slackers.

But back to that “In Defense of Job Hopping” article. Even at my organization, it is well known that the only way to get a significant bump in pay these days is to go out and bring back a higher offer from elsewhere to secure a counter-offer to stay. And even those counter-offers have become much more modest over time. A couple of years ago, a colleague got a 25% bump to stay. I just tried this last year and got…9%.

My employer is talking all about how we have to continually adjust, change, and grow our skill sets these days. And to hear that job hopping demonstrates and attests to that ability was interesting (although, again, the bias is strong, so I’m trying REAL hard to buy into that…).

And finally, while the employer I work for now isn’t as seniority-focused as others I have worked for, I have worked for places where truly, the only way to move up is to put time in, year after year. After about a decade (no joke), you might be able to advance upward. That’s just absurd.

So I’ll continue to fight my bias by reading these types of accounts; they really do help. If you know other compelling ones, please send my way! In the meantime, I keep reminding myself that some analysis shows that the more educated you are, the more likely you are to job hop. Given that we work in higher ed and most everyone here has at least a Bachelor’s, that is an interesting point to consider for me.

And heck, if the author is still right (that article is from a couple of years ago), maybe it’s time for me to try hopping. More money? Like I’d say no to that!

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