Why I Believe, That Job Hopping is OK
I read an article recently about a Gen Zer who had changed jobs three times in a year. The comments on the article from HR professionals went from “that’s what’s wrong with Gen Z” to “that’s what’s wrong with organizations.” My take is that it’s perfectly acceptable to job hop if you have a good reason to do so.
Today, there are plenty of good reasons. Five good reasons come to mind.
1. Career Changer -
As an older-than-average college graduate many years ago, I changed careers and I wanted to learn everything I could about the human resources and career management industry. I wanted to learn it fast, and I changed jobs five times in 7 years. In doing so, I held roles in every corner of career center operations from counseling, job development, employer relations, partner programs, HR consulting, and career center technology.
I worked my way through various higher education institutions — small and private; large, public and megadiverse; and both East Coast and West Coast. While I was job-hopping, I was learning. Additionally, I was innovating and transferring so much prior business knowledge and entrepreneurial thinking into career centers, that when I jumped into a fourth university as a director of career programs, I knew exactly what type of center I wanted to build.
Those job hops ultimately led me to build a virtual career center with the best of what I had learned and innovated. Job-hopping can be a great way to learn more about a new-to-you field.
2. Job Skills Builder -
There is little disagreement about the value of emerging job skills in the future of work. Job skills are the new currency and if you are looking to build those skills, then it is perfectly fine to move around. Transferring skills to new industries or new roles is one way to find out where we really belong. It is how you will build on what you know. One of my mantras is that it is not about what we want to be when we grow up, it’s about what we want to do with our lives.
If we can’t build those skills where we are or we aren’t getting paid fairly for the skills we bring, why not look elsewhere? If job hopping allows for the learning and skill-building you need to get to where you want to be, workers have the right to optimize how they use those skills.
Not every job allows employees to build skills. Many organizations want workers right where they are, doing what they do. If job hopping gets an employee the skills they need to be competitive in the future of work, then I say do it. Unless there is some other reason to be there, don’t overstay in a role that is not a learning opportunity. Gone are the days to stay in a job out of obligation or because you don’t want to be seen as a job hopper.
3. Leave Where You Are Not Welcome Or Wanted -
If you are excited to learn and innovate but you find yourself in a quagmire, it is a legitimate reason to move on. Quagmires, toxic and negative cultures can kill our spirit and sap our productive energy. Why stay wounded when what you really want is to be productive in meaningful ways?
By the way, recruiters and hiring managers might not always speak up about the realities of what life is like working in some organizations. It’s not always their fault either, sometimes they just don’t know what people in other demographics, other departments, etc. experience within their own companies. My philosophy is that our work feeds us literally and figuratively. If we stay where we aren’t wanted, it could destroy us literally and figuratively also.
4. Move Just Because You Can -
If you don’t feel bound by work rules that were cast pre-2008 recession or pre-pandemic, then good for you. It’s understandable to make new rules and keep moving until you decide to stop moving. You make your own rules about your career happiness in the social frameworks within which we individually exist. We need to find where we need to be so that we can sustain ourselves, our families, our communities, and our world. Trust me, many Boomers envy the flexibility of others who take the plunge and walk away from work that is not fulfilling or meaningful. With all the gig and part-time opportunities, walking away is no longer a career death sentence.
5. Company Size -
If you are in a large organization, you can do job hopping without company hopping. It happens all the time. Many organizations love to spot, develop and fast-track the right talent. We don’t balk at that. So why balk at the person who is job-hopping for the same reason? Some smaller organizations do not offer the opportunity for in-house hopping, so why not move?
Let’s stop with these artificial rules and reset our organizations to meet the moment.
We need to be more open to the idea that not everyone wants the same things. Not every worker or employee has to animate the same way, build careers the same way or pursue their goals the same way. That’s what real inclusion is all about.
I encourage individuals to consider how an organization’s needs align with their own personal values, interests, skills, and abilities. We have an obligation to continue to seek better alignment. On the other hand, organizations have to plan for the potential attrition if they fail to understand the individual motivators driving their talent away right now. Leaders have to figure out why people hop, skip and jump out of their organizations. In most cases, we know why. We just have to believe it and do things differently.