Should you stay or should you go? See if job hopping will work for you

Job hopping can be a smart career move for many employees, but only if they do it right. Here's how.

Should you stay or should you go? See if job hopping will work for you

Employers and employees both worry over job hopping, but not for the same reasons. Employers are concerned that Generation Y’s lack of engagement with their company will result in high turnover rates — rates that, according to Gallup, cost the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually. Employees, on the other hand, worry that they’ll miss out on promising career opportunities if they stick with that they know.

Truth is, job hopping can be a smart career move, but only if the job hopper balances their needs while presenting a history of loyal service to past employers. Here’s why.

A very millennial office, c/o Thoroughly Reviewed

What is job hopping?

Job hopping is when someone habitually “hops” between jobs, resulting in a short tenure in any given position. It’s a simple enough concept, but the difficulty arises when trying to determine who qualifies as a job hopper.

Unfortunately, the phrase is more business jargon than a technical term, so there’s no set definition or cutoff point. Like beauty and obscenity, job hopping is determined by the hiring manager making the judgment. A baby boomer, for example, may see a new job every five years after your mid-30s to be job hopping, whereas a millennial may reserve the label for a succession of jobs lasting no more than six months.

Other factors include the applicant’s field and past positions. Fast-paced fields like media and technology may look at job hopping more favorably (or at least accept it as the norm). However, a job seeker applying for a senior executive role will need a history of longevity and loyalty if she wants to catch a hiring manager’s attention.

While there is no definitive timeline, Suzy Welch, in an interview with CNBC, recommends staying with your current job for at least a year to prevent being labeled a hopper. A more conservative approach may prescribe a stay of 18 months to two years. Younger workers are also given more leeway, as hiring managers understand their need to explore career options to see what fits.

A super-cool Gen-Y millennial doing that J.Cole album cover pose, c/o Pixabay. 

Who is most likely to job hop?

Generation Y, obviously. Whenever a phrase like “job hopping” becomes chic, it’s usually the old guard finding some way to explain the habits of those pesky millennials. And there may be some truth to it.

According to LinkedIn Economic Graph data, “the number of companies people worked for in the five years after they graduated has nearly doubled,” but the uptick hasn’t been uniform across all demographics. The data found that people “who graduated between 1986 and 1990 averaged more than 1.6 jobs,” while “people who graduated between 2006 and 2010 averaged nearly 2.85 jobs.” The researchers noted potential reasons for the disparity as residual impacts from the Great Recession and millennials being more interested in trying careers before settling.

Millennials may hop more than previous generations and view the practice more favorably, but they are hardly alone. A Namely survey of more than 125,000 U.S. employees showed that today’s boomers job-hop almost as much as their younger cohorts. The survey found that the median tenure at a job for workers was:

  • 1.42 years for 25- to 35-year-olds;

  • just under 2 years for 35- to 55-year-olds;

  • 2.53 years for 55- to 65-year-olds.

Along with the LinkedIn data, the Namely survey suggests that while a difference between millennials and past generations exists, it is not as drastic as our cultural conversation assumes. Likely, job hopping and other previously forbidden job-hunting techniques, such as the “boomerang employee,” are simply becoming standard practice.

A millennial in thought. Probably about avocados. c/o Pixabay. 

Smart career move or career killer?

Unfortunately, there’s no clear answer as to whether job hopping will advance or hinder someone’s career. That’s because the practice exists in that murky reality where benefits and drawbacks are difficult to separate, and a hiring manager’s personal biases can weigh them dramatically different. 

 Here are a handful of pros and cons to job hopping according to the experts.

  • Salary Increase. The average salary increase for 2018 is predicted to be 3 percent. Not too shabby, until you adjust for inflation. With an expected inflation rate of 2 percent, the true wage increase sits at a meager 1 percent. Job hopping can help increase a hopper’s pay, as companies willing to offer significantly higher pay to entice top talent.
  • Bad investments. Hiring managers cite hopping jobs as the biggest obstacle for regaining employment because the costs of onboarding a hopper are not worth the short-time value they bring to the company.

As management author Suzy Welch told CNBS, “[Hiring managers] get that jobs don’t last forever anymore, […] but they don’t want to go through the arduous process of finding someone, training them and getting them up and running, only to have them flit onto the next cool thing.”

It’s not what you know. Networking remains the best way to land a job, and job hoppers have an advantage when it comes to making connections. “While networking used to be important, in today’s hyper-competitive market it is vital,” executive search veteran Tom Sorensen writes. “Different employers provide access to different networks in which a job hopper can plant roots and farm relationships.”

Breaking up is hard to do. Job hoppers can have a negative impact on the people they leave behind, making them a poor prospect for potential employers. As Mark Suster, a venture capitalist, puts it: “It is bad on team morale when good people quit. The people who stay are often with you. But sometimes it weakens their own resolve. Especially when this job hopper has them out for drinks to talk about his cool new gig where the grass is currently greener. […] When I’m looking to fund somebody, I care about that loyalty and integrity.”

Adapt to the market. Job hoppers often don’t keep the same position while jumping from one company to the next. Instead, as Sorensen further notes, they develop “diverse and dynamic” skills to allow adapt and evolve under constant change. “In most cases, the environment necessary to foster this growth cannot be found with a single employer.”

Lost without a port. However, certain market shifts will make finding the next gig more difficult for job hoppers. Brett Good, senior district president for Robert Half, told NBC, “If there’s a shortage of talent in the market, job-hoppers will still find plenty of opportunities. But when the market shifts and there’s more talent available than there are jobs, the candidates who have been more stable will rise to the top and be the first called.”

Given all this, turning one’s job-hopping into a smart career move seems more a game of luck than skill. However, like a professional poker player, a savvy job hopper will be able to maximize these and other benefits while minimizing the setbacks. The key is to seek new employment once the current position’s salary and growth options begin to curtail, especially compared to new hires, and then present these hops on your resume as a means toward professional development.

And don’t think you’re out of luck if you’ve burned your share of bridges. There are ways to present your work history, such as functional resumes, that take the focus off a less-than-loyal past.

In the end, job hopping can be a smart career move, but that doesn’t mean it’s always the best career move.

A landslide is imminent and so is its tsunami

An open letter predicts that a massive wall of rock is about to plunge into Barry Arm Fjord in Alaska.

Image source: Christian Zimmerman/USGS/Big Think
Surprising Science
  • A remote area visited by tourists and cruises, and home to fishing villages, is about to be visited by a devastating tsunami.
  • A wall of rock exposed by a receding glacier is about crash into the waters below.
  • Glaciers hold such areas together — and when they're gone, bad stuff can be left behind.

The Barry Glacier gives its name to Alaska's Barry Arm Fjord, and a new open letter forecasts trouble ahead.

Thanks to global warming, the glacier has been retreating, so far removing two-thirds of its support for a steep mile-long slope, or scarp, containing perhaps 500 million cubic meters of material. (Think the Hoover Dam times several hundred.) The slope has been moving slowly since 1957, but scientists say it's become an avalanche waiting to happen, maybe within the next year, and likely within 20. When it does come crashing down into the fjord, it could set in motion a frightening tsunami overwhelming the fjord's normally peaceful waters .

"It could happen anytime, but the risk just goes way up as this glacier recedes," says hydrologist Anna Liljedahl of Woods Hole, one of the signatories to the letter.

The Barry Arm Fjord

Camping on the fjord's Black Sand Beach

Image source: Matt Zimmerman

The Barry Arm Fjord is a stretch of water between the Harriman Fjord and the Port Wills Fjord, located at the northwest corner of the well-known Prince William Sound. It's a beautiful area, home to a few hundred people supporting the local fishing industry, and it's also a popular destination for tourists — its Black Sand Beach is one of Alaska's most scenic — and cruise ships.

Not Alaska’s first watery rodeo, but likely the biggest

Image source:

There have been at least two similar events in the state's recent history, though not on such a massive scale. On July 9, 1958, an earthquake nearby caused 40 million cubic yards of rock to suddenly slide 2,000 feet down into Lituya Bay, producing a tsunami whose peak waves reportedly reached 1,720 feet in height. By the time the wall of water reached the mouth of the bay, it was still 75 feet high. At Taan Fjord in 2015, a landslide caused a tsunami that crested at 600 feet. Both of these events thankfully occurred in sparsely populated areas, so few fatalities occurred.

The Barry Arm event will be larger than either of these by far.

"This is an enormous slope — the mass that could fail weighs over a billion tonnes," said geologist Dave Petley, speaking to Earther. "The internal structure of that rock mass, which will determine whether it collapses, is very complex. At the moment we don't know enough about it to be able to forecast its future behavior."

Outside of Alaska, on the west coast of Greenland, a landslide-produced tsunami towered 300 feet high, obliterating a fishing village in its path.

What the letter predicts for Barry Arm Fjord

Moving slowly at first...

Image source:

"The effects would be especially severe near where the landslide enters the water at the head of Barry Arm. Additionally, areas of shallow water, or low-lying land near the shore, would be in danger even further from the source. A minor failure may not produce significant impacts beyond the inner parts of the fiord, while a complete failure could be destructive throughout Barry Arm, Harriman Fiord, and parts of Port Wells. Our initial results show complex impacts further from the landslide than Barry Arm, with over 30 foot waves in some distant bays, including Whittier."

The discovery of the impeding landslide began with an observation by the sister of geologist Hig Higman of Ground Truth, an organization in Seldovia, Alaska. Artist Valisa Higman was vacationing in the area and sent her brother some photos of worrying fractures she noticed in the slope, taken while she was on a boat cruising the fjord.

Higman confirmed his sister's hunch via available satellite imagery and, digging deeper, found that between 2009 and 2015 the slope had moved 600 feet downhill, leaving a prominent scar.

Ohio State's Chunli Dai unearthed a connection between the movement and the receding of the Barry Glacier. Comparison of the Barry Arm slope with other similar areas, combined with computer modeling of the possible resulting tsunamis, led to the publication of the group's letter.

While the full group of signatories from 14 organizations and institutions has only been working on the situation for a month, the implications were immediately clear. The signers include experts from Ohio State University, the University of Southern California, and the Anchorage and Fairbanks campuses of the University of Alaska.

Once informed of the open letter's contents, the Alaska's Department of Natural Resources immediately released a warning that "an increasingly likely landslide could generate a wave with devastating effects on fishermen and recreationalists."

How do you prepare for something like this?

Image source:

The obvious question is what can be done to prepare for the landslide and tsunami? For one thing, there's more to understand about the upcoming event, and the researchers lay out their plan in the letter:

"To inform and refine hazard mitigation efforts, we would like to pursue several lines of investigation: Detect changes in the slope that might forewarn of a landslide, better understand what could trigger a landslide, and refine tsunami model projections. By mapping the landslide and nearby terrain, both above and below sea level, we can more accurately determine the basic physical dimensions of the landslide. This can be paired with GPS and seismic measurements made over time to see how the slope responds to changes in the glacier and to events like rainstorms and earthquakes. Field and satellite data can support near-real time hazard monitoring, while computer models of landslide and tsunami scenarios can help identify specific places that are most at risk."

In the letter, the authors reached out to those living in and visiting the area, asking, "What specific questions are most important to you?" and "What could be done to reduce the danger to people who want to visit or work in Barry Arm?" They also invited locals to let them know about any changes, including even small rock-falls and landslides.

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