by Bryan Hyland, Commercial Director at Morgan McKinley
A gap in your resume or an average job tenure of 1.5 years or less would have been a big red flag for employers in the past. But times have changed. Millennials and Gen Z, who now make up the majority of the workforce, are much more open than previous generations to changing jobs regularly – often earning a reputation as ‘job hoppers’.
What exactly is job hopping, and why do the recent generations see it as a positive career move?
It’s a popular career strategy that involves moving from one job to another in relatively short periods of time. While it may raise eyebrows for some, this trend has its merits and is transforming the way we view career paths.
“Half of millennials — compared with 60% of non-millennials — strongly agree that they plan to be working at their company one year from now. For businesses, this suggests that half of their millennial workforce doesn’t see a future with them.” (Gallup Study on Millennial Job Hopping)
According to LinkedIn, job hopping among Gen Z is also at a record high, with them showing a greater willingness to job hop than older generations. Members of Gen Z today are switching jobs at a rate 134% higher than in 2019, according to LinkedIn’s data. That compares to rates of 24% more for millennials and 4% less for boomers.
But why job hop?
To contextualise, here’s a real life example of what job hopping can look like…
In the past four years, Zoe, who is now 25 and works as a marketing leader, has changed roles twice. She gained vital experience and increased her value to companies with each change. She described the job hops as a method to take control of her career direction and said she views each job move as an adventure that presents fresh challenges, aiding the development of new talents.
Job hopping also offers her the opportunity to grow her network by attending events and meeting mentors and potential collaborators. This networking has helped her grow personally and professionally.
“80% of professionals believe that networking is essential for career success, and job hopping facilitates such opportunities.” – LinkedIn
While some might not approve of switching jobs so frequently, it’s important to realise that job hopping isn’t just about being flaky or unable to commit. In fact, it can be a strategic move to unlock your career potential, gain diverse experiences, and embrace new challenges.
Job hoppers must find the best balance between seizing opportunities and demonstrating commitment. It’s important to:
- Set clear and realistic career goals
- Ensure that each job hop aligns with your aspirations
- Only move if it contributes to your growth and skill development
- Showcase your dedication when you find a company that resonates with your values and offers a fulfilling work environment
- Demonstrate enthusiasm for the role
Advantages of job hopping
The number of people who believe job hopping is more than just a trend, but an art that allows them to strategically curate their careers, is on the rise. Let’s look at the reasons why.
- Skill expansion: Each job exposes you to new challenges and tasks, expanding your skill set and making you a more versatile professional.
- Networking opportunities: Switching jobs means connecting with new colleagues, industry experts, and potential mentors, all of which can be invaluable for your career growth.
- Higher income potential: It’s no secret that with each job move, you’re likely to negotiate a higher salary.
- Discovering your true passion: Job hopping allows you to explore different industries and roles, helping you figure out what truly sparks your passion..
An employer’s perspective
As Gen Z and Millennials venture into job hopping, companies have been forced to reassess their approach to hiring and talent retention.
On the one hand, progressive companies recognise the value that job hoppers bring to the table. They appreciate the fresh perspectives and innovative ideas that these young professionals infuse into their organisations. A young workforce can bridge skill gaps and create dynamic teams, enriching the company culture and driving positive change.
A study by PwC found that 51% of CEOs consider creativity and innovation among the top three skills to drive success in the future.
However, some employers remain wary of job hoppers. They fear that investing time and resources in training these individuals might be in vain if they leave for greener pastures relatively soon. The concern revolves around short-term commitments and potential turnover costs.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the cost of replacing an employee can be as high as 50% to 60% of their annual salary.
‘Hoppers’ or ‘Lifers’, who is more loyal?
Workplace loyalty has been a topic of debate for years, with job ‘hoppers’ and ‘lifers’ representing two distinct approaches to career longevity and commitment.
On the one hand, you have the job hoppers; individuals who frequently change jobs, seeking new opportunities and challenges. On the other, you have the lifers; employees who stay with the same company for an extended period, sometimes for their entire careers.
Lifers are known for their unwavering dedication. They are often associated with older generations who prioritise stability, loyalty, and long-term relationships with their employers. Lifers find fulfilment and a sense of belonging by growing within the same organisation, building strong connections with colleagues, and becoming experts in their particular areas of expertise.
Companies highly value the loyalty of lifers. They provide stability, institutional knowledge, and continuity within the organisation. Lifers often become mentors to younger employees, passing down valuable insights and influencing company culture.
However, the downside of being a lifer is the potential lack of exposure to different work environments and industry practices. While their expertise within the company is unquestionable, they might not have the diverse skill set that job hoppers bring to the table.
Additionally, in today’s dynamic job market, staying with one company for an entire career may limit potential salary increases, as external job changes often result in higher pay.
How are employers’ attitudes changing toward job hoppers?
Job hopping may have been viewed negatively in the past, but attitudes have shifted. Many employers look beyond the job hopper stigma and recognise the benefits that job hoppers can bring to their organisations, such as adaptability, innovation, and networking skills.
Job hoppers often offer fresh perspectives and can provide short-term solutions for specific projects. It has also altered employers’ hiring practices – it’s led to them focusing on performance and track records, rather than the number of job changes. This is particularly helpful in identifying high achievers with valuable expertise and potential for future leadership roles.
In industries facing talent shortages, job hoppers can fill critical skill gaps, making them sought-after assets for companies willing to embrace diverse career journeys.