Generation Y Job-Hop

3.5 min read

The once insatiable enthusiasm for the profession you committed to in your Twenties has dwindled. After years of experience fine-tuning skillsets and developing knowledge about your chosen area of expertise, dashing in-between work meetings and coffee runs, you find yourself wondering: is this really what I want? Women in their Thirties and Forties often face a series of momentous life decisions – most of which impact our professional careers – and in an era where opportunities are plentiful, Future Workplace estimates that 91 per cent of Generation Y expect to stay in each job for less than three years.

Generally speaking, transitional job-hopping involves at least one company change after 12-36 months, and while the younger generation gets bad press because of this tendency, the stigma is quickly losing steam. “There has been a shift in attitudes towards one’s life and career in the last 20 years,” insists Zeta Yarwood, a qualified NLP career and life coach. “It used to be a case of simply finding a job that pays well, looks good on paper and offers job security for life.” Nowadays women are more likely than their predecessors to job-hop, according to a LinkedIn study, and in an increasingly interconnected world, a career change can seem tempting.

Hallie Crawford runs her own boutique career coaching firm. “Job-hopping is becoming more common because it’s a way to change your location, company culture, earn more money or get a promotion. It’s more common because people are able to work remotely, and more people want to find a job that they truly enjoy versus staying at one position that’s not a good fit.” It’s not uncommon for women to feel that they’ve achieved most of what they want from their career after a decade or so of working full-time. By the time they’ve logged on to start their job search, some will quickly dismiss the idea as wishful thinking, but for many, changing careers is exciting and achievable.

The Way We Work photographed by Vivienne Balla MOJEH Issue 40
The Way We Work, photographed by Vivienne Balla, MOJEH Issue 40

Debra Wheatman, founder and president of Careers Done Write, is a certified résumé writer. “It’s incumbent upon each of us to actively manage our own careers. Gone are the days of lifetime employment with one employer.” Be that as it may, while companies are sympathetic to the plight of twenty-somethings who’ve worked multiple jobs in the hope that they’ll break into their desired field, will an experienced candidate’s history of short-term employment be held against them? Wheatman doesn’t think so. “Changing roles is essential to staying fresh,” she insists. “Years ago, managers wouldn’t look at a résumé that’s peppered with short-term stints.  These days, spending more than three or four years in the same role will get you the side-eye.”

After all, the bulk of today’s workforce are both the pioneers and guinea pigs of the digital age; better connected than any generation that’s gone before them. It’s no surprise that these tech-savvy workers are functioning differently to their foregoers, and instant gratification, argues Yarwood, makes Generation Y more likely to chop and change. Online dating websites immediately introduce us to new love interests, while search engines have replaced perusing old libraries for research. “Technology has created a world and perception that we must be happy all the time, and we can be in an instant. But this also means as soon as people become bored or unhappy in their jobs, they quit.” It seems that for job-hoppers to be successful, they must give an adequate explanation for their professional manoeuvres when asked, because ultimately changing jobs regularly results in a higher salary and an increase in control. “It [job-hopping] allows you to experience different fields, industries, companies and locations. This helps you identify what you enjoy and what you’re good at, and can give you a more rounded skillset,” says Yarwood, before adding that an international increase in opportunities for women has also influenced women’s professional development. “In previous generations, many women were raising children in their Thirties and Forties, with their careers temporarily taking a back seat. Now, more and more women are putting off having children and are making their career a priority.”

After all, personal responsibilities result in expense: marriage is often followed by buying a house, raising children, paying for a mortgage, as well as school fees, and family vacations. A steady paycheque and company benefits were formerly essential, but nowadays women are more able to react to the rich and lucrative job market. Marriage and home ownership are at historically low rates among today’s adults, and new posts can offer luxurious relocation packages and more money. “A woman’s range of options in previous generations were fairly limited,” reminds Wheatman, whereas now she pursues opportunity. “She actively keeps an eye out,” says Wheatman, “and networks aggressively. She never lets her career go on cruise control.”

The notion that workers should force themselves to stick it out at a job that they’re unhappy in, because future employers might spurn them for multiple short-term jobs or a considerable career change, is antiquated. After all, why should we let our career languish at a company in which we’re slow moving, albeit successful? The fear of the unknown binds unsuspecting employees to dead-end positions, and subsequently many are neglecting their quest for career happiness. No matter one’s profession or title, work gives a person an identity and while there are no guarantees, it’s important to find work that’s meaningful and engaging. To do that, you must be willing to take the risk.