Moving from job to job used to be considered a career killer. The baby boomer generation is one that would start a job with a company right out of school and retire at that same company 30 years later. They had pensions and company loyalty and therefore, reasons to stay.
Today however, the X and Y generation have changed the view on “job hopping”. According to Businessweek, people under the age of 30 change jobs almost once every year and a half (compared to the national average of once every three years).
The Next Generation
This generation has a mentality where they don’t feel like they owe their employer their time and loyalty. They come in, do their job, make an impact and are compensated for their time. This is especially true of professionals who are early in their career. For them, it’s about trying different paths and figuring out what they want to do for the rest of their career.
There is a fine line between good job hopping and bad. Some people job hop because they have to. They enter into a new company, don’t accomplish anything and have to leave before they are fired. It’s important for employees make sure they are creating value and working hard at each company. By doing so, with each move they make, they’ll be getting promotions and moving up instead of making continuous, vertical moves.
For IT professionals specifically, job hopping can even be beneficial for their careers. Technical Recruiter and Synergis Team Lead, Janna Tucker says, “Technology is always changing, so as a candidate, in order to be competitive and keep up to date with your skills, you have two options: you can either move from company to company to be exposed to different technologies or you find a company that’s dedicated to training and using the latest technologies”.
Contracting gives employees the ability to experience many different types of corporate environments, learn different technologies and working with many people. (see our whitepaper Contract vs Perm for more benefits for contract jobs). With technology changing so quickly, it’s imperative that IT contractors keep their skills fresh and up-to-date. Sometimes that means moving to a different company that supports that up-graded technology.
While there are many good aspects to job hoping, there’s also one major downfall. The baby boomer’s referred to earlier are the managers who are hiring today and don’t have the same mentality as the Gen X and Y workers do.
“Unfortunately some managers won’t take the time to dig in and ask (why they’ve job hopped and) the individual is just passed on”, says John Wagner, Technical Recruiter and Team Lead at Synergis.
Clay Mitchell, Synergis Technical Recruiter agrees, “Job hopping still seems like a big turn off for employers if they are looking for a long-term resource or if there is a chance they would want to take a contractor permanent”.
If a candidate has job hopped, it’s best they are able to explain why they’ve left the jobs they have and be able to show that they have accomplished something at all the different stages of their career. And managers shouldn’t automatically throw job hoppers’ resumes out of their consideration pile. There are sure to be candidates who have hopped because they keep getting fired, but you’re also likely to miss that perfect fit that has great experience.
Even though there is still not one consistent train of thought on job hopping, it is becoming more widely accepted. And if under the right circumstance, both candidate and manager are likely to benefit as a result.