Why Job Hopping May Not Be Bad

Both of my grandfathers remained at one job the majority of their lives. My wife’s grandfather did to. Now the average job length is 13 months for people under 30 and 2.4 years for the rest of us. Are you prepared?

by Pete Ferguson

My mother’s father worked in the auto industry. For the majority of his life.

He was responsible for stretching the vinyl tops onto Cadillacs among other tasks. He was a skilled upholsterer and mechanic. And it provided for his family, purchased the house my grandmother still lives in, and taught him many skills.

I’ve been at one company for 13+ years, but I’ve changed job functions every 3-4 years. In tech terms, I’m an old timer and as recruiters have told me, my greatest asset is that I’ve been at one company for so long – and my greatest liability is that I’ve been at one company for so long.

We are in a new normal where many kids have seen mom and dad – likely grandma and grandpa as well – laid off, downsized, rightsized, furloughed, repositioned, and otherwise rejected from a job they have given their heart and soul to daily for years.

The newer generation isn’t stupid, they’ve learned not to put too much stock into a career because they’ve seen the pain it has brought those around them.

In the past, job-hoping has been considered a bad thing. According to a study by Evolv, a san Francisco-headquartered surveyor, there is essentially zero correlation between the number of jobs hourly call-center agents held and their future job tenure.

(“Job Hopping Isn’t Hazardous to Employers,” David Shadovitz – Human Resource Executive, June 16, 2012, p8)

What matters most, according to the study, is “job fit, personality and skills.”

The good news is that you and I are in control of all three of these attributes. We can choose to invest in ourselves. I was given great advice by Dr. Laurie Wilson, then Head of the Communications Department at Brigham Young:

  • Have an emergency fund of six months income, stay out of debt
  • Always be learning, researching, reading, gaining new knowledge and experience
  • Network, network, network

I’m sure there was other advice she gave, but these stuck and have been reiterated by every good business book I’ve read. It took a while to get them all going, but having all three has provided a lifeboat of peace when layoffs at my company came and went and as other changes in business have come.

Tomorrow I will talk about a USA Today article about how training cutbacks in corporate America are also the new norm as companies are seeing employees leave faster and have fewer discretionary funds.

You have to take control of your life, build up your skills, and expand your network. According to the article listed above, the average time recruiters spend on a resume is an all-time low – six seconds. Applying online is no longer going to work. You have to have a sturdy network and build a platform to establish your credibility.

Learn: We are all self employed. You may only have one corporate client. What are you doing weekly to build and improve your skills?

Act: Do you have an updated resume? Resumes are just for job searching, they are a way you can measure your skills and abilities and outline areas where you need to grow and add new knowledge. Having an updated resume on LinkedIn also allows recruiters to reach out to you with opportunities otherwise not publicized.

Share: Networking is key. Go to lunch with people outside of your normal network. Ask for help of someone with many more years experience. Mentor someone much younger than you.

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