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Some Younger Workers Find Less of a Stigma to Job Hopping

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Aug 9, 2023

Job listings - GettyImages-843533330

Rapid job hopping in the early stages of a career has usually been a warning sign for employers, but younger generations are engaging in it more frequently than previous ones and often benefitting from it, The New York Times reported.

That is not to say that the practice is understood and accepted universally among hiring managers. Seventy-seven percent of them named job hopping as their top concern when evaluating a candidate’s résumé, according to a survey of U.S. employees conducted in May by human resources consultancy Robert Half.

Still, members of Generations Y and Z are jumping at a faster rate than previous ones; 22.3 percent of workers ages 20 and older spent a year or less at their jobs in 2022, the highest number since 2006, according to data from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, and about 33 percent spent two years or less at their jobs. Seventy-four percent of 18- to 26-year-olds and 62 percent of 27- to 42-year-olds were searching for a new job or planned to search in the next six months, the Robert Half survey found.

Job hopping is a “huge headache” for employers, said Jeff Hyman, CEO of Recruit Rockstars, in an interview with the Times. When promising employees leave prematurely, others may follow, he said. “Human resources executives keep hoping it will improve, but it just seems to get worse by the month.”

But some younger workers see the benefit of such movement. Pranav Ravikumar, 24, has held three jobs since college. One month after graduating in December 2020, he got a job at Abbott, before leaving 10 months later for a remote job at a startup. After a year, he started job hunting and, in February 2023, got a new job in product marketing at a membership network for mental health care providers.

“I’ve almost doubled what my starting salary was at Abbott, and that’s important to me,” he told the Times. “I really wanted the flexibility of remote work and I’d be hard-pressed now to give that up. And I’ve gotten a lot of professional experience across industries super quickly.”

Others are more cautious. Erin Confortini, 24, declined the entreaties of recruiters who offered her $20,000 more than the salary of her corporate job in Pittsburgh, believing the higher pay wasn’t worth the risks of making a change. She told her 246,000 TikTok followers about her decision, a post that received more than 450 comments, with most advising her to follow the money rather than be loyal to a company. While she understood that sentiment, “I also think you need to consider what that will look like on your résumé,” she told the Times.

Hyman agreed. “Employers start to question the candidate’s decision-making ability and judgment,” he told the Times, adding that hiring managers also complain that it’s difficult to assess a person’s performance in a job that lasted less than two years.

Jessica Kriegel, a chief scientist at Culture Partners, a business consultancy focused on workplace culture, saw occurrences such as the erosion of the employer-employee social contract as a driver of this phenomenon. That included repeated layoffs in response to—as well as in anticipation of—a recession.

“Employees are looking at that and feel they have already lost what they thought they were getting, which was job security,” she told the Times.

Jonathan Javier, 28, saw his first job at Snapchat outsourced to a contractor. He moved to Google, where he started a side career coaching business. After 18 months, he went to Cisco for “a higher-level job that pushed my salary to over six figures,” he told the Times. A year later, he was laid off due to the pandemic, and now works at his business full time.

Working for a corporation, made him feel “like a number,” someone who could be dismissed at any time, he said. The high failure rate for start-ups does not faze him; “There’s always a way back into corporate America if I want that.”