Why are so many Millennials and Gen Z job-hopping?


Is it true that Millennials and Generation Z do not believe in job stability? Does job-hopping help professional growth or hurt it? What is causing this practice to become increasingly common? Several Human Resources studies are trying to answer these questions, here’s what they have found.

Photo: ITU/Rowan Farrell.

He was a real estate agent, wedding coordinator, employee of a theme park, surf instructor, farmer, bartender and more. In 2005, after graduating as an economist in the United States, Daniel Seddiqui had 50 different jobs in 50 weeks (yes, one job per week). His case was extreme, but the practice of changing work –or even profession– in a short period, is becoming more common.

This practice is commonly called job-hopping. But what exactly is it?

“It is the practice of switching jobs frequently, particularly as a means of quick financial gain, career advancement, or just wanderlust," explains Niki Philip in the study Job-Hopping: Does it benefit or detriment careers? (2017). He adds that there are two types of job-hopping. “The first type links to a craving for new experiences, in which job-hopping is a means to create these new experiences. The other type of job-hopping links to a turnover culture [which means] switching jobs ‘just because others are doing the same’.”

New generations are eliminating the job-hopping taboo

A few decades ago, according to popular belief, leaving a job in less than a year affected professional opportunities. Nowadays, this stigma is disappearing.

Workers of younger generations see more and more rewards in changing jobs, according to a survey by Robert Half, a US Human Resources consulting firm. According to their results, 75% of respondents, between 18 and 34 years old, view job hopping as beneficial. In contrast, 59% of respondents between 35 and 54 believe the same and only 51% of those who are 55 or older.

Another survey, conducted by LinkedIn in 2018, found that the generation with the highest labor mobility is Gen Z.

In their results, more than 40% of the respondents were interested in making a career pivot: either to a different industry or a different function entirely. The conclusion was that the behavior is common, but the professionals most interested in moving belong to Generation Z.

“Gen Z is more than 3X more likely to change jobs”, indicates the report. “With 20% of them averaging 4 or more jobs over the short period they’ve been in the workforce, compared to Baby Boomers who average just two jobs in the past ten years”.

Why are the new generations job-hopping?

New generations are job hopping more and, with this, breaking the stigma around labor mobility. But what is causing it?

The causes vary. A report made in the UK, Job-hopping in the workplace (2017), found that the main reasons for changing jobs in a quick period of time relate to no room for progression, to be closer to home, changing fields completely, being offered a better salary and the fact that they learned all they could from the job.

Alongside, it was observed that the reasons that are considered acceptable to change jobs in less than a year are: the appearance of a better job opportunity, the change of personal circumstances, the fact that the work is not adequate, the growing popularity of freelance work and the possibility of obtaining more experience.


Job-hopping is not always negative…

While job hopping has become increasingly common, the fear that this practice is poorly valued in the CV persists. According to Robert Half's report, this fear is still the main reason for not changing jobs.

But moving fast from one job to another is not always negative. Several experts agree that job-hopping -when it’s done for well-analyzed reasons- can even be useful to develop important professional skills.

"Currently it is not as negative, as it was before, to change jobs for new job opportunities," explains John O'Neill, the dean of professional education at Stanford University, in an interview for The New York Times. "People are expected to move to new opportunities, especially at the start of their careers.”

This opinion is shared. The UK report, for example, advises companies not to dismiss candidates for constant job changes.

"A job hopper can show ambition, courage, and desire to constantly learn about themselves and the industry in which they work," the document explains. "They are also likely to have a wide range of skills that could be beneficial to the business."