Is Job Hopping the New Normal?

Hop ScotchIn an interview last week, David Wade, HR Director of technology consulting firm Sogeti USA, remarked that when it comes to hiring, the company prefers IT professionals who will be committed for the long term. To him, a record of job hopping doesn’t look good.

On the other hand, in a recent post on how to reply when a hiring manager asks “Do you have any questions for me?”, Software Engineering Community Guide Catherine Powell suggested inquiring about career paths could make you appear  ambivalent about the position being offered. On other words, even early on don’t waver when it comes to showing a long-term view.

Despite all this, job hopping is increasingly the norm for the new generation of workers. So,mass Forbes, companies’ expectations might be out of sync. Among Millennials – those born between 1977 and 1997 – 91 percent expect to stay in a job for less than three years, according to Multiple Generations @ Work, a survey conducted by executive development firm Future Workplace.

Like Wade, many HR directors are wary of resumes filled with one- or two-year stints, questioning the candidate’s motivation, skill level and ability to get along with others.

Yet some experts see the 20s as an age when young workers experiment with jobs to find the right fit. It can keep them from being stuck in a job that offers little hope of advancement. On top of that, the economic downturn has convinced many that long-term loyalty doesn’t necessarily pay off.

Writes Forbes’s Jeanne Meister:

Workers today know they could be laid off at any time – after all, they saw it happen to their parents – so they plan defensively and essentially consider themselves “free agents.

Vincent Milich, director of the IT Effectiveness Practice at Hay Group, told me that IT professionals especially want to see a clear career path for themselves. Too often recruiters can lay that out for them while their current employers don’t. For employers, providing employees with that long-term view can be an effective strategy for retaining talent.

Says Meister:

So, hiring managers, before dismissing a scattershot resume, consider the context; it may demonstrate ambition, motivation and the desire to learn new skills more than it shows flakiness. More employers are realizing that this is the new normal, and coming around to appreciating its advantages.

For those with plenty of moves, it means being able to effectively explain them. The same goes for those who stay. Have you grown in skills, responsibility and accomplishments?

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No Responses to “Is Job Hopping the New Normal?”

  1. Fred Bosick

    It’s layoffs and outsourcing. Also, far too often, the only way to get a raise is to leave for another job.

    Employers know know how to fix this. The question is whether they will do so, or continue to “seek efficiencies” by engaging in labor arbitrage and pretending that IT staff is fungible and interchangeable.

  2. Developer

    I found the best way to advance my career was to hop around when I started after graduating with a computer science degree.

    1) First job: Low pay, started at 35k. I found there to be a big shortage of entry level jobs and I took what I could get. Stayed 2 years.

    2) Second Job: Started at 65 K. Stayed 2 Years.

    3) Third job: Started at 90k. Been here for a while. Up to over 100k. Would never have been at this level if I stayed at my first job.

    A lot of companies just don’t promote from within anymore. Also, you need to do whats best for you, don’t think for a second your employer won’t throw you under the bus if they think it will benefit them. Employer loyalty to employees is gone at most companies.

  3. The Seeker

    How is being in a place for not very long count against you? What does that have to do with anything? As someone who had mostly temp jobs until I found a more permanent one(one that is nowhere near the field I got my degree in), it is frustrating to see how outdated the interviewing process is, how you have to stroke the interviewer’s ego to get a job, but you don’t end up getting the job because a relative or friend of someone in the company ends up getting that job. If interviews were more about skill and what you bring to the company, over how well you kiss some booty, more people would have jobs.

    • Glen Smith

      Loads of very important signals. Skills play a part in considering ones suitability for a position but things that show conformity, internal motivation, ability to play well with others and a lack of an ego out of proportion with the actual value you provide are also highly valued and the long term employee belongs in the supply group that has the highest concentration of these types. Also, especially in the 90s, many job-hoppers hopped to a higher paying job just in front of the employers finding out the work was crap, However, as an employee, the only real job security you will ever have is having a broad, deep skill base, building up as big a war chest as possible and having another job lined up at all times.

      • The Seeker

        Conformity in this day and age is a stretch at best. That is what I am getting at. It might of been different back then, but it is certainly not the case now. Most people won’t work for very long in one place when they know there is little for advancement. IT companies complain about a shortage of workers, but there are still young, eager people, most of them straight for college, that are trying to at the very least get their foot in the door. All I am saying is that these companies have unrealistic expectations when it comes to posting a job position.

  4. Bobalicon

    There is no loyalty either way, so what this means is you do what is best for YOU, not what is best for the business. Being a nice guy and shouldering the workload will not get you ahead. It’s a ruthless world out there, corporate workplace included. Kill or be killed.

  5. The Heretic

    There is no such thing as a career in IT anymore. The labor market has become so dysfunctional that I cannot in good conscience recommend an IT career to anyone.

    The salaries are an illusion draped in overtime averaging and hidden non-recoupable education costs. If you want to make better money become a plumber or an electrician or a truck driver. These professions don’t have to write off four or more years of non-recoupable education costs followed by thousands of hours each year in continuing education costs to stay relevant in the IT labor market. If you are making 41 dollars an hour before overtime averaging that’s $41,000 a year in continuing education opportunity costs that have to be flushed down the toilet every single year. The technology learning curve is moving so fast that half your salary is lost opportunity cost. Than apply unpaid overtime averaging to the other half and McDonald’s starts looking like a positive career move.

    The fact is that IT salaries are being maintained below the cost of acquiring the skills externalizing the cost on to the worker. In economic terms shortages only occur at a specific price and are relatively short lived, but the IT labor shortages are perpetual. That suggests that the market is being successfully manipulated thru employer collusion and there is a disparate impact being externalized on to the workers. Wages are not being allowed to float at the equilibrium somewhere over $150,000 a year. Instead they are being maintained below cost in a perpetual state of shortage.

    IT is not a career. It is as close to force servitude as it gets. No business person is going to invest time, effort, and capital into a venture that looses money, but they expect IT workers to do it every day. The propaganda that we are inundated with daily suggests that there is opportunity in “an IT Career”, the truth is that there are shortages for a reason. In a world with perfect information there would be no new entrants into this labor market at all. The propaganda is necessary to entice suckers to invest time, effort, and capital which will become a lost sunk cost followed by reoccurring education costs that also must be written off.

    Job hopping in an attempt to recuperate losses and is just a symptom of a much bigger problem; wage suppression. There can only be shortages at the price being offered. I wouldn’t recommend an IT path to my worst enemy. Skip college and become a plumber and let the sociopaths that created this mess do the work themselves for a while.

    • yo eddie

      Very good assessment of what is going on these days. You are right. For younger folks, they can sort of job-hop as well as they tend to not have anything strapping them down as well like those who have a few more experience who tend to have a family, mortgage to pay ,etc. I also agree now that I think about IT talent pool shortage. If there is a shortage, why is pay below the plumber’s/truck driver’s level. Supply and demand doesn’t jive. Excellent points Heretic!

      If everyone can just afford to occupy Wall St and the like.

  6. It sickens me when I read articles like this. Are we not in a recession? Job stability is a luxury in this market, where companies hire temporary and contact workers and then put them back on the street. This is the classic “blame the workers” approach that many companies use when assessing candidates. They want it both ways. So what do many workers do in this situation? They go and spend their own money to upgrade their skills, only to be told that they are missing either the experience or some other unique skill that wasnt studied.

    We are in a down market people. Things will at some point get better. I’m sure some of us can remember the late 90’s, where you could practically walk into a tech company and get hired on the spot. Now you have three rounds of interviews with 30 other candidates going for the same position. Articles like this make my blood boil !!