Over a quarter of Millennials think that workers should stay in a role for less than a year before moving on, according to data collected from PayScale’s employee survey, and compiled in the report Gen Y on the Job. Only 13 percent of respondents in the same age group thought employees should stay at a job for more than five years. That’s a big shift from earlier generations, and sign that job hopping might be gaining in popularity — at least among workers themselves. Given that companies pay to train and hire workers, however, and hiring managers probably don’t want to see a checked employment history, how do you determine the perfect tenure?
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“If you look at one year as a guideline for staying at a job, that can work for a job (or even two), but if you work at several jobs for only a year you are creating a job hopping work history and your resume isn’t going to impress any hiring manager,” writes Alison Doyle at About.com’s Job Searching site.
In other words, you can afford a few short stints, but you probably can’t afford a decade’s worth. There’s also the fact that 20 percent of American workers were laid off at some point during the last five years. When you’re thinking strategically about your resume over the long term, you have to account for the fact that there will probably be at least one involuntary gap in your employment, so to speak.
It is also possible to stay too long at a job, and wind up stagnating. While there’s no perfect recipe for balancing between the two extremes, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind, which will help you stay just long enough at a given job:
1. Keep learning.
One reason workers job hop is because they’ve run out of things to learn in their present role, but a new employer isn’t always the answer to this problem. Sometimes, you’d be better off taking a class (especially if your company will pay for it) or asking your manager about working with other teams or on new projects, to stretch yourself.
2. Ask for raises.
Another big reason people jump ship is because they’re liable to make more money by switching jobs. It’s true that you’re probably not going to get as big an increase by staying put, but if you’re smart about how you ask for more money, you can keep your salary moving in the right direction without leaving a job that’s still offering you other benefits.
3. Take the long view.
At the end of the day, the best approach to job hopping is to think of your career as a whole, instead of just looking at the next move. Doing so will keep you from sacrificing your future happiness for more money but an oddball title, or more security but a less interesting job.
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