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Are Millennials “Job Hopping,” Or Is The Culture Shifting?

Not so long ago, the concept of “job hopping” was frowned upon.  If you moved on from your job too quickly, you would risk being labeled as a flighty employee, and this would be a red flag for potential future employers.  Not only could a history of job hopping point to a disloyal and untrustworthy employee, but it could also be a sign of a contentious person who doesn’t work well with others.  Because of these depictions, employers have been wary of hiring a job hopper for fear that they will leave abruptly—making the investment of hiring and training a new employee impractical.

However, with each new graduating class, the definition of a job hopper seems to morph, and the stigma around the concept loosens its hold.  A new study released by LinkedIn suggests that the culture around “job-hopping” is changing, as employees entering the workforce are continuously holding more and more jobs in their first five years post-graduation.  While those who graduated between 1986 and 1990 only held 1.60 jobs in their first five years after college, this number has steadily increased to 2.85 in the first five years for those who graduated between 2006 and 2010.

This continuous increase suggests that the shift in attitude around job hopping appears to be generational, and the idea is becoming more acceptable.  Additionally, millennials are adopting the mindset that they will hold several jobs in their first years out of college, and the job market is currently in their favor to do so.  However, even though millennials occupy the largest segment of the workforce, there are still millions of baby boomers and gen Xers working who do not hold this newfound view of job hoppers.  So, what’s behind the popularity of job hopping?  Here’s what millennials think:

Regarding Professional Development…

Professional development is among the top concerns for millennials, as it is very important to them to continue learning in order to make meaningful contributions through their work.  This generation expects to be able to expand their skill set and scope of responsibility in time—earning trust and authority through a job well done. If they feel as though they’ve hit a ceiling and stopped gaining knowledge on the job, they’ll find a new opportunity that will allow them to gain some new skills.

Regarding Compensation…

Saddled with student loan debt, millennials are concerned about their financial future. In order to make payments and still save for family or retirement, they are looking for ways to move into the next pay bracket faster.  When they’re already facing financial distress right out of college, changing jobs every few years might allow them to achieve a higher raise than they would in their current role.  Even though this isn’t typically their primary motivation, many millennials simply can’t afford not to seek a raise.

Regarding Growth Opportunities…

Along the same lines of professional development and compensation, millennials want to keep moving up in their career as they are ready to do so, rather than when management is ready to promote them.  Once they feel they’ve mastered their current job responsibilities, they want to see a path forward.  If they don’t see a way to move up in the near future, they’ll likely find a way up elsewhere.

Regarding Flexibility…

Along with financial concerns, millennials are also concerned about maintaining a healthy work-life balance.  As dual income households become more and more common, millennials rely less on their partners to take care of home responsibilities, instead relying on their employers to understand their need for a more balanced approach to their work.  This doesn’t necessarily mean working less, but it means moving away from a 9-5 office environment.  With more job responsibilities being conducted online, millennials want the option of working from home or during off-peak hours, even if only on an as-needed basis.  When many companies are adopting policies like paid family leave, millennials know that if their current employer doesn’t offer flexible policies that work for them, someone else will.

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