To switch jobs or not? An industry perspective on job-hopping

By Munira Loliwala

Until a few years back, to work and retire with a single employer was a sign of longevity and loyalty in the employee. However, as millennials have entered the workspace, the employment landscape has changed. Gone are the days when job stints were supposed to be time bound. Now, if one stays for too long at a job, s/he is considered to be unmotivated or set in his/her ways, and if the tenure is short, the employee is thought of as a job-hopper.

Historically, candidates believed growth, salary, and job profile increment/hike to be few of the main reasons for job change. Research shows that one tends to grow 18 to 20 percent more as an external hire as compared to growing within the same organisation or moving up a promotion. In most cases you would find the prospective candidates’ age and designation are a mismatch to the salary or vice-versa. This would result in long-term associations with current employer but lack of self-growth.
The question that employees now need to ask is how long should a job tenure in the same role, function and responsibility be. There is no universal, quantifiable answer to that. Every time one experiences a situational change, there might be a significant culture change you may have to adapt to. As long as we’re advancing our skills, we can show we are great at adapting to new situations and capable of building a solid professional network. The key to always keep learning and growing is to stay up-to-date in our areas of expertise and to network with people in the field.

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The debate is whether short stints or long tenure are more suitable for employees. If an employee is staying in one company without advancing, job-hopping can actually be good for his/her career as it helps in maintaining passion and building a wide network. The key challenge is to still appear as an ideal candidate and not an unreliable job-hopper. With more young people switching jobs every couple of years, and more millennials getting into management and hiring positions, job-hopping is not as taboo as it once was considered to be. The average employee stays at a job for 4.4 years, but for younger workers, it’s about half of that time period.

Is there an actual count of how many jobs are considered “too many” by companies and recruiters? At times, “more than two jobs in the last five years or more than four in the last ten years” is what is defined as too many by companies. On the other hand, if someone has been at the same company for more than seven years, they should find out ways to put forth their adaptability on their résumé. It may include highlighting their various reporting relationships, participation in merger(s), and leadership of or achievement in a significant change initiative. It is important to show how one adapts and enters a new culture and operates successfully within it. Marketability is more important than time on the job.

Staying in one company without advancing might cost an employee a better opportunity and more challenging work. They can often get that in the same company through promotions, but in this era of raise freezes and “you’re lucky you even have a job” mentality, advancement doesn’t always happen and employees end up stagnating in the same position for years because of fear of job security. In addition to that, it is necessary for the employees to analyse and understand their market fit ratio, which is calculated in relation to age, designation, role, and salary. Prospective candidates need to create the right fit at each level that makes them meet current and future employer expectations.

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Replacement hiring has risen to over 60% in the last few years, as both organisations and people are becoming impatient in this age of instant results and instant gratification. While it is alarming to see that the number of people with shorter tenures in an organisation can be as high as 88%, organisations need to take responsibility for that. They need to sculpt roles for individuals within the organisational structure that help them grow as individuals otherwise employees will look for that in another organisation. It is time to create aspiring and entrepreneurship roles that provide opportunities to employees.

Munira Loliwala is the Business Head (EMPI) at Teamlease Services.


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