The job market sure has changed in the last quarter century or so. Baby boomers were pretty much guaranteed a job for life, many started with an employer when they were still a teenager and worked for the same company right up until retirement. That sort of job security, unfortunately, has long since passed.
There were also more pickings for job hunters. My mom likes to tell a story about when she was a young woman working in the city of London in the swinging 60's and was laid off on Friday afternoon, she managed to find a new job before her train home departed and started work on the following Monday morning. Unemployed people nowadays wait an average of four months before securing a new position.
However, the most significant change in job practices is the number of past positions young people are willing to put on their resume. Employment experts used to advise people not to leave a job too early in case you made yourself look flighty or indecisive. In today's market job seekers are likely to have tried out a variety of careers and worked at a number of different firms before finding their current post. Forbes even advises millenials to be proud of their ability to adapt and to stop apologizing for job hopping.
Once a recruitment pariah, a job hopper now seems like a motivated self-starter. Rather than sitting around waiting for the right job to come to them they have been proactive in their career, choosing to move strategically from job to job, chasing opportunities and advancement. In fact, those who stay at a job for two years or longer get paid 50% less than those that move on.
Job hoppers also show they are able to adapt, that they are flexible and sociable. Starting a new job can be stressful, so those who have done it frequently often display developed interpersonal skills and resiliency to change.
Sometimes job hoppers are created from circumstances out of their control; if laid off or when an industry collapses, a worker may have to take any work that they are able to find even if it isn't in their area of expertise. A job hopper isn't afraid to diversify and as such survives in a tough economic climate.
There are a growing number of workers who are actually choosing to change jobs every two to three years, not because they have to in response to layoffs or downsizing, but because they recognize that there are benefits to remaining fluid. Once we feel comfortable at a company, we often stop acting on our best behavior, we can become a little complacent and allow things to slide. By constantly bouncing from company to company before the shine wears off, job hoppers are ensuring they develop new skills and always give their best work.
Millenials, especially, often have a different approach to life and work. They are not willing to stick it out in a career they hate or at a company that they don't respect, like their parents or grandparents may have. They are aware of the alternatives, they have resources at their disposal to research other positions and industries and are able to network more efficiently than previous generations due to the proliferation of social media. They also have an adventurous and bold attitude towards entrepreneurship and they are not intimidated about starting a new business or launching a new product.
Alison Green, of 'Ask A Manager' even suggests that hiring personnel could view those who don't move jobs regularly in a negative light.
"Now it almost feels like people who spend more than just a few years in one place are the ones getting side eyes for being unmotivated to change rather than pats on the back for loyalty."
Changing jobs frequently isn't for everyone, some people prefer to build relationships in a company and work on moving up the career ladder in the same corporation. For those people loyalty and familiarity are perhaps more important than the variety offered by job hopping.
But for career job hoppers, their ambition fuels their constant need to keep moving and as the stigma disappears, the sky's the limit!