Radical idea: Could job-hopping be good for your career?

Job-hopping: Just like playing leap frog or hopscotch. But for your career.

It’s pretty much mandatory to judge the next generation of young people, isn’t it? The ones in their filthy 20s especially. Those ‘Gen Y’ and ‘Millenial’ kids are so entitled, etc etc. They walk around the office so confidently, chew their gum so obnoxiously, and switch jobs about as fast as Spotify tracks or Tinder dates.


But hear me out on a radical idea.

What if, rather than willfully underestimating the next generation of employees, we tried to learn something from them? Better yet, what if they secretly know how to revive a dangerous, stagnant corporate culture? Ah? How ‘bout it?

Stay with me. For a start, sure, you were right about the attention span thing. Where most adults stay in their jobs an average of 4.4 years, 91% of Millenials expect to stay in a job for less than three years (according to the Future Workplace Multiple Generations At Work study).

In fact, many of them expect to move jobs in under a year.

Now, you might think short stints at multiple workplaces looks pretty dismal on a resume. And, yeah, if someone fired yo’ ass 12 times in 12 months, I’d agree. But here’s the case for smart job-hopping — which has been, until now, a Gen Y specialty.

Young people move pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look at what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, you might miss ‘em.

1. Variety makes your life spicy, or whatever.

According to a 2014 Forbes study, employees can expect roughly a 1.3% raise year on year if they stay in the same company. It’s closer to 4.5% for outstanding candidates, but once you take inflation and the general state of the economy into account, it aint that swell.

Contrarily, every time you switch jobs, it puts you in a position to negotiate a new salary.

Economist Cameron Keng suggests that people switching jobs can expect between 10 – 20% raises. And — GET. THIS. — he also argues that “staying employed at the same company for over two years on average is going to make you earn less over your lifetime by about 50% or more.”

Whaaaat? Fiscal slam-dunk, yo.


2. Eclectic skills look sweet on your CV.

If it’s done shrewdly, skipping between jobs can actually help you custom-build a skill-set that makes you fascinating to a prospective employer. It’s like a Pick N Mix for professional experience.

Very few workplaces have the resources or the care factor to train their new employees in multiple areas; it’s simply not a priority. And that lack of individual attention itself can breed disloyalty.

So, kids these days find themselves seeking out shiny new skills and experience, which is something you can do by switching up employment. Not to mention the fact that one of the single most demotivating things for an employee is to feel stagnant, uninspired, or undervalued.

3. It’s a survival tactic in weird financial times.

Think about this: When people in their filthy rotten 20s entered the workplace, it was economic chaos. Their glorious entrance into adult life coincided roughly with the 2008 financial crisis, or any of the myriad crises that’ve followed. Staying loyal to one company for decades of you life isn’t the norm any more; getting shafted from a job you love brutally and without notice is the norm.

It’s no wonder these kids have decided to do financial instability on their own terms – they’ve seen their parents, their mentors, their friends and even some of their peers lose their jobs, fold with their company, and live on redundo payouts till something new comes around.

Job-hopping isn’t about arrogance and entitlement; it’s about playing the game of gainful employment cleverly in a shitstorm of uncertainty.

4. You’re on the pursuit for happiness.

I have to leave you with this sensational advice from University of Michigan Economist Justin Wolfers (who, incidentally, I’d like to find and high-five for saying this at all).

Wolfers told NPR podcast Planet Money his greatest advice for new graduates:

Approach your career ambitions the same way you approached your romantic ambitions at college. Sure, you’re looking for ‘The One,’ but the only way to find that is by going on a lot of dates. And you should think about your first job as a good first date. Try it out. If you like it, stick around for another year. But if not, ask another employer out. And keep playing the field until you’ve found the job you want to stay with. This pattern of hopping between jobs while young, before settling down, is in remarkably common. And it makes sense, too. Romantic success never follows from trying to improve your partner; it follows from moving on and finding a better match. The same is true in the world of work. Indeed, economic research shows that most large pay gains come not from your boss promoting you, but rather from moving to a job that’s a better fit, with a different employer.


Are you the job-hopping type? Or do you prefer to stick with the same company?

Want more? Try these:

The only time it’s appropriate for women to fake it.

Yes, changing careers is actually possible.

You need to stop thinking of your career as a ladder. Instead, think of it as a jungle gym.