Job hopping vs. non-job hopping between the generations

Q: Job hopping vs. non-job hopping. I was told when I was in college that you should stay with your employer as long as possible. I am not saying your whole career but maybe a few jobs over 30 years. My 30 year old son has already had three jobs in the eight years he has been out of school. What is the norm now?

A: I can hear the debates over the dinner table now! The world is changing and so is the world of employment. In my parents generation, many would remain with the same employer for 20-30 plus years, maybe even retiring with the same company!

In my generation, the beloved baby boomers, employees often have worked for 5 -8 different employers in their careers and some even change careers altogether. We have all observed friends and family members who work in one industry and then move into a teaching role or to work in a non-profit.

In general, employees are not remaining with the same company for 20 plus years any more. While it occurs, it is rare. A few reasons may be impacting the increase in career stops. We are becoming more mobile. Few of us live in the same town/city in which we grew up. Technology has impacted the workforce. Techies want to learn new skills, be part of interesting projects and work with smart team members. Some job hopping may be attractive to employers because it is evidence that the employee can be adaptable. The job hopper, though, needs to leave each employer on good terms and not leave a trail of negative feedback from their former employer and colleagues. Think about it, if you have a slew of positive job changes, you also are expanding your professional contacts. Professional contacts are often a reliable source for finding out employment marketplace intelligence (i.e., who is hiring and when).


Millennials, those roughly 18-34 years old, make up more than one-third of the US workforce. In 2012, a PayScale report, found that the median tenure for a millennial employee was two years while a median tenure of a baby boomer was seven years. Millennials will openly share that they expect a new opportunity to last just a few years. Millennials are considered a creative, adaptable and entrepreneurial cohort. They want to be mentored, not directed. They prefer frequent informal feedback vs. the once per year “come into my office, I am your manager” type of performance review. Millennials are not interested in “face time,” or being seen at 6pm by the division vice president. ¬†Instead, they want to work flexible hours and occasionally work from home.

As the world changes, so does the workforce. It is a challenge for all of us as we try to navigate generational differences.

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