Job Hop for Right Reasons, but Not Too Often

Despite my advice not to do so, a young friend quit his job last week and will begin a new one soon. That’s no big deal unless it’s your third job in the past 12 months.

Claiming low pay and a cultural-fit mistake, he jumped at the latest opportunity. I reluctantly agreed with his decision when I heard about the 30% pay differential.

As I was questioning his decision last week, The Wall Street Journal seemed to weigh in with a timely article under this headline: U.S. Workers Are Quitting Their Jobs. That’s Good for the Economy. Buried in the statistical charts is the subhead asking: SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO? Here’s the Journal’s explanation of the current acceleration of job hopping:

“Workers are choosing to leave their jobs at the fastest rate since the Internet boom 17 years ago. The result? They’re getting rewarded with bigger paychecks and more satisfying work. Some 3.4 million Americans quit their jobs in April, near a 2001 peak and twice the 1.7 million who were laid off the same month, David Harrison and Eric Morath report. Workers have been made more confident by a strong economy and historically low unemployment. The trend could stoke broader wage growth and improve worker productivity, which have been sluggish in the past decade. Workers tend to get their biggest wage increases when they move from one job to another. Job-switchers saw roughly 30% larger annual pay increases in May than those who stayed put over the past 12 months.”

Job Hopping By Generation: A LinkedIn analysis of some of its 500 million users found that Millennials will change jobs an average of four times in their first decade out of college, compared to about two changes by GenXers during the same timeframe. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Baby Boomers average 11.7 jobs between age 18 and 48. Some 27% of them were job hoppers, holding 15 or more jobs, while 10% held four or fewer jobs.

Bottom Line: Although hard to avoid substantial salary increases, strive to build a resume and LinkedIn profile that demonstrate depth of experience in a particular industry — minimum of one to two years. Otherwise, future employers will very likely question your skills and loyalty.

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