How Often Should You Switch Jobs? What to Consider Before Quitting

by Jessica Sommerfield · 3 comments

Longevity in your job position or career has always been applauded as a sign of stability and loyalty. Among the younger generation, however, this is not the trend. recently conducted surveys among older Boomer generation workers and Millennials to compare their approaches to “job hopping”, and found that while nearly half of Baby Boomers felt that they should stay in a position a minimum of five years, a mere 13% of Millennials agreed with this figure.

In fact, a significant percentage of Millennials don’t think they should be expected to keep the same job for more than a year.

Why is there such a difference in views between these generations? The obvious answer is generational differences shaped by the culture, economy, and values we were raised in.

The inability of many Millennials to keep a long-term job is often viewed by older generations as flightiness, unstable, and unwilling to put in time and effort. Millennials are also typified as opportunistic and entitlement-minded, traits that might be true of some but shouldn’t be unfairly applied to all.

What does an employer view about the job market?

Besides cultural trends, the job market has played a part in Millennial job hopping. Growing fields like technology are constantly changing and growing, providing opportunities for younger adults who are more willing and eager to embrace change, and less unencumbered by families, mortgage payments, and deeper roots.

Another reason for this difference could be the change in expectations. Millennials have fewer expectations from their employers, so they have less motivation to prove their loyalty by staying with one company for any length of time. From this perspective, it only makes sense to invest minimally if you expect minimally.

Which perspective is better received in the job market? Since Baby Boomers still make up a majority of the CEOs and hiring managers in the job market, they’re likely to prefer longer-term employment statistics when considering resumes.

So it’s important to consider who your employer is, and what they expect. This doesn’t mean that if all your previous positions haven’t lasted at least 5 years, you’ll be rejected; it just means that loyalty and stability in the workplace are more favorably viewed by Boomer employers.

On the other hand, among Millennial employers, fewer positions and moves could be seen as stagnation and the  inability to learn, grow, or adapt to a changing market. Know who your employer is, what their beliefs are, and what they expect.

How often should you switch jobs?

Regardless of whether you’re old-fashioned and prefer predictability, or young, hip, and embrace opportunity, you still need to have solid reasons for seeking another job when the one you have is stable.

Millennial employer or not, anyone who looks at your resume will want to know why you changed jobs, and your answers should show your ability to reason and make sound decisions. And being bored isn’t a good answer!

It’s OK to start a side hustle and use that for more challenges, more creativity, and a bit more income. So consider this before changing jobs too often. Job hopping on a whim might be fun for some, but it doesn’t characterize a career-minded person employers seek to advance their company’s goals and profits.

In summary, moving however frequently viable career advancement opportunities present themselves is acceptable as long as you have a valid reason, and can convincingly explain it. It’s also important to understand who your employer is (or potential employer) and how they view the current job market.

What’s your perceptive? Are you in favor of longevity as a sign of loyalty and commitment? Or do you favor adaptability an willingness to learn and grow with the changes of the job market?

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  • C3PO says:

    I think the next paradigm shift would happen around putting employees first as instead of putting business profit as the main goal.
    In a healthy and growing industry, businesses should be competing in making employees so happy that they love to stay longer.
    Think of why people leave their jobs? The feeling that they are not growing in their career. Not being treated nicely. Being bored by lack of constructive challenges. Lack of learning opportunities. Work life balance. Etc.
    Employees (and industries) will come to realization that employees’ happiness comes before industry’s monetary benefits.

  • Lee says:

    As mentioned in the first reply, the industry makes a difference in how long to stay. Also, the QUALITY of one’s relationship w/ one’s employer makes a difference. When a manager uses “please” and “thanks” & speaks respectfully to employees, it matters. Does the manager encourage & ask about ur career or long term goals? Does the employer show concern for ur family or significant other? Is the manager considerate in giving u time off for holidays or other significant personal days? These are ex’s of what I mean by the quality of the employee-employer relationship, & others can likely think of other such things.

  • Money Beagle says:

    I’ve been in my current job for over eight years, which seems like a lifetime in the IT industry and also compared to my previous lengths of service. I think it all depends on whether you feel valued, on a path of opportunity that meets your desires, and provides you the satisfaction you need to feel motivated.

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