Do Job Hoppers Really Make the Best Employees? Penelope Trunk Thinks So.

In the 20th century one thing you didn’t want was a reputation as a
job hopper.  But in the 21st century?  Penelope Trunk says it’s a
different story.  In a blog called Why
Job Hoppers Make the Best Employees
, she points to the
statistics that tell  us that people in their 20s change jobs
approximately every 18 months.  And people in their 30s change jobs
frequently as well, although at a slower pace than the Gen-Yers. 

But let’s reframe this old issue.  Job hoppers are not quitters, nor
are they merely opportunists.  Penelope argues that job-hoppers make
better employees and are generally more satisfied with their work life. 
So if you think job-hopping is bad stuff, change your thinking.

Lest their be any doubt on this issue, I support Penelope’s reasoning
100%.  I’m biased.  I’m a job hopper.  I can tell you for certain
that job-hoppers are generally more satisfied with their work life. 
Check out these five characteristics of job hoppers.

1.  More intellectually rewarding careers.  The
learning curve is very steep early on, usually for six months to a
year.  And then it goes flat.  So what’s going on in the gray matter if a
person stays at the same job for the next 20 years?  People who change
jobs often are always challenged with a lot to learn–and their learning
curve stays high.  That applies to industry specific knowledge,
navigating corporate hierarchies and politics and dealing with “office
dramas.”  And the more you learn about people, the better you’ll become
at making people comfortable at work.  That’s a great skill to have!

2.  More stable careers.  As most of you know by
now, job stability and security have gone the way of the Dodo bird. 
Unless you’re completely out of touch, you know that layoffs,
downsizing, just-in-time hiring and contract workers are the name of the
work game today.  But if you believe in yourself and gain the
confidence to bluff your way into new jobs on a regular basis, the fears
of job loss are gone.  Importantly, people who work for a lot of
companies have a larger network than people who stay in one place for
long periods.  And people who work for huge companies, but work all over
the world for that company, can learn pretty quickly how to manage
systems and their career.  And then if they don’t get what they want
after four or five years, it’s not life or death to move on to another
major or minor company.

3.  Higher performers.  If you know you’re going to
leave your job for another one in the next year or so, you’re not going
to slack off.  That job resume is going to be very important for your
future, and so you’re going to want to be adding value every place they
go.  You also know that your future jobs are dependent on the expertise
you develop in each job, so job hoppers want to do really well at work. 

4.  More loyal.  Loyalty is all about supporting the
people you’re with.  Job hoppers are liable to be great team players
because that’s all they have.  They don’t identify with a company’s
long-term performance, because the identify with their project team’s
short term performance.  They also want to build relationships with
their co-workers so they can all help each other get jobs later on. 
Here’s where you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours becomes the
rule, not the exception.

5.  More emotionally mature.  This is a sticky
issue, but Penelope points out that it takes a lot of self-knowledge to
know what you want to do next and choose to go get it rather than stay
someplace for long periods of time.  In your early years of work, you
may want to bolt too quickly, but it’s important to learn to work with
difficult situations and difficult people.  Once you’ve mastered some of
that stuff, it’s OK to start looking.  Mastering tough situations is a
learning skill, so don’t jump just because the situation is tough. 
Penelope believes in shorter terms than I.  I think you should usually
stick it out for 12 to 18 months, unless the situation is just
horrible, then quit and move on.  But make every minute of that time
count for yourself and your projects.

The good news today is that it’s OK to quit.  Only the dinosaurs look
at a resume and say they’re not certain they want to hire a job
hopper.  The smart people admit to themselves that jobs and projects
aren’t liable to last to long anyway, so let’s look at this person. 
She’s probably been around the barn (or whatever it is Gen-X says when
they think about hiring someone).

Oh yeah, if you’ve got some fears about job hopping, you may want to
check out my well-researched paper, “How
to bluff your way into a new job.”

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