Is there a ‘three strikes’ rule of job hopping?

A survey found 83 percent of millennial respondents believe job hopping looks bad to prospective employers. But they do it anyway.

Even though most millennials acknowledge changing jobs frequently could hurt their prospects with future employers, most say they plan to leave their current job for a new opportunity. How badly does it hurt their future employment?
Even though most millennials acknowledge changing jobs frequently could hurt their prospects with future employers, most say they plan to leave their current job for a new opportunity. How badly does it hurt their future employment? –Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

When it comes to finding work, Generation Y may have commitment issues.

A report from crowdsourcing recruiting firm RecruitiFi found the overwhelming majority of millennial workers (86 percent) would consider leaving their current job for a new venture. At the same time, the survey also found 83 percent of respondents believe job hopping looks bad to prospective employers.

The RecruitiFi report indicates 53 percent of millennial workers have held three or more jobs in their lifetime, and while 33 percent plan to remain at their current job for a few years, another 20 percent plan to leave after only one or two years.

Over 1,000 full-time millennial employees participated in the Millennial Outlook Survey, which looked at how the younger generation of workers will impact recruiting, hiring, and retention.

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Why the frequent job changes?

Nigel Dessau, founder of the online series “the 3 Minute Mentor’’ and chief marketing officer at “always-on’’ IT infrastructure firm Stratus Technologies, believes significant generational differences are at play.

“When my generation grew up… the need to have a job was more important than what the job was,’’ said Dessau. “Millennials have grown up in a more comfortable world and view a job less as a requirement for living and more of an extension of their purpose.’’

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It’s worth noting, as the statistics blog FiveThirtyEight does here, that millennials may not actually be moving around more frequently than earlier generations did at the same age. Younger workers are always more mobile.

But even if every generation faces the same thing, it’s worth asking: does frequent job switching hurt a candidate’s chances of employment?

Jayne Mattson, a career consultant with Keystone Associates, believes employers give millennial candidates the benefit of the doubt when it comes to frequent job changes.

“Since millennials are still young in the workforce and at the beginning of their careers they get a ‘three strikes’ policy,’’ Mattson told Boston.com.

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“With your first job, you need to make money because you’re just out of school and not sure what to look for,’’ explained Mattson. “By your second job you’re looking for more money, a better manager, and your requirements and expectations have been raised because you’ve gotten more experience.’’

And third?

“By your third job you’re still learning … but you need to find the right [company] culture where you are able to do your best work,’’ said Mattson.

Mattson said millennials who switch jobs frequently can help ease concerns from prospective employers by clearly explaining what was missing from their last job that prompted them to leave.

“‘What weren’t you getting that you are looking for now?’ is one of the first questions I would ask,’’ said Mattson. “This generation seems to know how to articulate what they’re looking for.’’

Jason Niad, senior managing director of recruiting firm ExecuSearch Group, says the key is for candidates to communicate what skills and lessons they took away from the jobs they left behind.

“Any career is a journey from one experience to another,’’ said Niad. “What they got out of their previous employment in the short or long term and what impact it can have in their new role is what [millennials] need to convey in their resume or cover letter.’’

Niad, who at age 29 is a millennial himself and manages a team of millennial employees, believes candidates that can demonstrate they learned something valuable from their previous jobs show strong signs of emotional intelligence, which most employers value.

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“When you’re moving positions, you’re getting your experience… getting exposed to a lot more individuals and seeing how corporations operate,’’ said Niad. “Hopefully you’ll take that away and communicate it very well in your next position.’’

In the end, he believes companies will respect candidates who leave after a short period of time as long as they give 100 percent during their tenure.

“Whenever I interview people with varied backgrounds and experience, I’m not naïve to think they will work for me forever,’’ said Niad. “[But] when they are with me I want them to be committed, dedicated, and passionate about what we’re doing.’’

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