Granddad Worked for One Company His Whole Life, Millennials Prefer to Job-Hop. Is it Career Suicide?

I was sitting with my newly retired father-in-law the other day as he reminisced about his career.  He spent almost 30 years in the same job as a carpet salesman, and worked his way up the ranks to become their top salesman and Sales Director.  I was struck by how ‘long’ 30 years in the same company must have been, and I asked him as much.  “That’s what we did,” he said, “long -service meant everything back then.”  The reality is, job-hopping was considered career suicide until only a few years ago.  When Generation X kicked in, then Gen Y and now the Millennials, the focus shifted to careers that were based on diversity, change and challenge rather than long-service.

What is Job-Hopping and Long-Service?

Job-hopping is when someone moves jobs within a short period of time (like 1 – 2 years) for reasons other than retrenchment or company closure.  Long -service is when you have been within the same company (not necessarily same role) for 5 years or more.

The Pros and Cons of Both

There are pros and cons to both, and it really is up to the individual to decide what would work best for them in their career and industry they’re in:

  • Long-service allows an individual the ability to climb the ranks within a company. Internal promotions in terms of seniority happen more frequently from the inside up rather than from the outside in.
  • Long-service does allow for the cultivation of deeper, long-term relationships with colleagues.
  • Job-hopping can equal more money. Each time you move, you will, most likely, for a bigger salary than the one you had before. Promotions within the same company might not quite match these kinds of increases.
  • Job-hopping certainly builds resilience. A change in roles and companies often means a person is exposed to completely new skill sets and ways of working.  It also means that a job-hopper will have been exposed to working with many different people, personalities, management styles etc.
  • In highly-competitive markets and ever-changing industries like IT and Technology, more exposure to varying skill sets through job-hopping could work in your favour.
  • Job-hoppers come with a variety of experience in different roles which might be interesting to a potential new employer as it could mean you would bring new ideas and ways of thinking with you.
  • Long-service offers a lot more security in terms of retrenchments and lay-offs as many companies adopt the ‘last in, first out’ policy.

There is no “better or worse” when it comes to job-hopping versus long-service.  The question really is what feels right to you and what is right in your industry.  Be aware, though, of the old school/new school thinkers out there; some might see long-service as boring, or that a person is unable to deal with change, while others might see job-hopping as an indicator of unreliability or instability.

Of course, you can’t know what a potential interviewer or employer is thinking, but make sure you understand why you’ve chosen to job-hop or stay in one company for a long time, and be able to explain the benefits and lessons learnt in each case.

Thinking about job-hopping soon, or seeing what’s out there beyond the warm bosom of your long-service company? e-Merge have loads of great jobs for developers. Why not find your next one in our Jobs Page.

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