Baby Boomers held, on average, around 12 jobs between the ages of 18 and 48 – half of them before they turned 25. That means for Boomers, frequently changing jobs, especially after a handful of years in the workforce, was not exactly normal. We all know people who have worked for the same company for decades, which is a concept that is completely foreign to many younger workers.
A job change is actually a pretty big deal. There’s a reason that workers from the Boomer era, and other generations, would find a good job and stay put. Good jobs are hard to come by, and if you can find a place to work that is not in constant threat of going out of business, and will provide you with a steady income, insurance, and retirement savings plans, most people are willing to accept that level of security.
Even Chief Justice John Roberts touched on this concept recently, during a ruling on a case involving workplace discrimination. “Quitting your job is a very big deal,” he said, per a report from the Huffington Post. “I think you have to plan out when that’s going to be, and just because you can’t take it anymore doesn’t mean that you could quit work right away.”
But you wouldn’t know it if you talked to a millennial. For generations past, changing jobs or switching career tracks was, as the Chief Justice said, a big deal. But millennials do it with comparative impunity.
There have been many reports about the millennial inclination to ‘job hop’, or bounce from one job to another, in relative short order. There are many reasons for it, but mostly it has to do with finding a better title, and better pay, without waiting for years for your boss to come around. They’re essentially playing the job market non-stop, and never really settling down into one permanent position.
Of course, having numerous jobs over a short period of time on your resume may actually hurt you, as some hiring managers can see you’re willing to quickly jump ship for the next thing that comes along. Even so, that gamble seems to be paying off for a good number of millennial workers.
So, why don’t millennials and younger workers care? Moving from one job to another is a big change, and one that can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. But millennials tend to stay at one job, on average, for only three years. And warnings from the Chief Justice himself are falling upon deaf ears.
One reason is because they have more flexibility. We’ve seen the reports regarding how millennials are getting married at older ages, and putting off big purchases of vehicles and homes. Throwing your life into temporary disarray with a big job or career switch is easier to handle when you don’t need to sell a house to move to a new city every couple of years, or uproot a family.
But things go deeper than lifestyle flexibility, and looking for a bigger salary. The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016, which was recently released, says that very few millennial workers plan to stay with their current employer for the long haul. “During the next year, if given the choice, one in four Millennials would quit his or her current employer to join a new organization or to do something different,” the survey says. “That figure increases to 44 percent when the time frame is expanded to two years. By the end of 2020, two of every three respondents hope to have moved on, while only 16 percent of Millennials see themselves with their current employers a decade from now.”
The headline number from the survey is that 66% of millennial workers expect to leave their current job between now and 2020. That’s a problem for employers, who want to invest in employees for the long-term. And, as the survey identifies, one of the primary motivating factors for millennials looking for a change is leadership – or, that they don’t feel their leadership skills are being developed, and that they’ll be passed over for potential leadership positions.
While skill development mostly does fall upon the individual taking initiative, it’s hard to blame people for seeking out new opportunities if they’re not getting what they want from a current position. That’s what the job market is all about.
Even with some evidence supporting the notion that millennials are not serial job-hoppers, these numbers paint a picture that more or less supports the narrative. Quitting a job is a pretty big deal, for most people. But in a job market rife with unpaid internships, short-term contract positions, and rewards for those who are willing to jump ship, millennials don’t seem to care.