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Do Millennial Workers Really Job Hop More Often?

There's nothing more frustrating to a manager than investing in hiring, training, and supporting a new employee, only to have him take off after a couple of months or a year. No wonder, then, that the stereotype of the job-hopping millennial inspires such derision. Who, exactly, do these whippersnappers think they are?

There’s nothing more frustrating to a manager than investing in hiring, training, and supporting a new employee, only to have him take off after a couple of months or a year. No wonder, then, that the stereotype of the job-hopping millennial inspires such derision. Who, exactly, do these whippersnappers think they are?

interns 

(Photo Credit: Travis Isaacs/Flickr)

Well, first of all, they’re not the love ’em and leave ’em types they’re made out to be. While it’s true that BLS data shows the median job tenure for workers aged 20 to 24 years old was less than 16 months in 2014, and only three years for workers aged 25 to 34 – in other words, a lot shorter than the 5.5 year median for workers aged 25 and older, as a whole – today’s youngest working generation is not necessarily leaving their jobs more often than previous generations. In fact, the opposite might be true.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

“The myth of the job-hopping millennial is just that — a myth,” writes Ben Casselmen at FiveThirtyEight. “The data consistently shows that today’s young people are actually less professionally itinerant than previous generations. In fact, millennials — and the U.S. economy as a whole — would be better off if they’d live up to the stereotype and start switching jobs more often.”

Job Hopping Is Bad for Companies, But Great for Employees

Why should millennials job hop more? Simply put, in an era when a typical employer might offer a one to three percent raise, job hopping is the fastest way to make more money. And, thanks to crippling student loan debt, millennials need to think about their bottom line.

“Roughly every one to three years we (arguably selfishly) switch jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,” writes Rachel Graf at Mashable. “But so did our parents and many others who came of age during the 1980s, according to the same source. The difference is our reasons: Unprecedented student loan debt, increased prevalence of internships and a major economic recession caused the millennial generation to become extremely skeptical of institutions.”

Loyalty Is a Thing of the Past

Twenty-three percent of U.S. workers were laid off at some point during the Recession, which means that even the most recent college graduate probably knows someone who got the ax. It’s not surprising that, as a result, worker loyalty was at a seven-year low by 2012.

Bottom line: if millennials are “disloyal,” it’s because they’ve seen that they should be. Job hopping isn’t a problem; it’s a solution. If organizations want to keep workers of all ages toiling away for longer periods of time, they’ll have to sweeten the deal. Until then, the best advice for workers of all ages is to keep that resume updated, and stay on the lookout for the next opportunity.

Tell Us What You Think

How often do you change jobs? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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