Seven Careers in a Lifetime? No Problem

A friend sent me the resume of his nephew last week, and asked me not to focus on the five jobs the young man has held in the three years since graduating from college.  My friend commented about the restlessness of Millennials, and I agreed–until I read yesterday’s Wall Street Journal column by Carl Bialik. 

Bialik observes that job changes are common early in a person’s working years:  Three in four workers age 16 to 19, and half between 20 and 24, have been with their current employers under a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  Despite the appearance of job hopping among Millennials, the BLS suggests there isn’t much difference between career switching rates over the past 12 years. 

Although no one knows who came up with the number, I’ve always heard that the average U.S. worker will have seven careers in his or her lifetime.  Most observers and HR executives feel job switching by Millennials will far exceed seven over the duration of their careers.  It’s a different world and job hopping doesn’t carry the same stigma as in the past, but I still recommend being careful and strategic in job-switching decisions.  I’ve been a long-time believer in the seven-career theory and, in fact, I’ve switched careers seven times post college. 

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