Should You Stay or Should You Go: Are Millennials Changing Jobs Too Often?

millennials leaping to new jobs too soon?

A potential client, a 26-year old data analyst at a healthcare organization, was struggling with the decision to stay with his current company or go somewhere that would value his potential more.

After careful consideration, I advised this Millennial to stay longer at his current company rather than jump ship. After all, he’d only been at his current company a short time and I was worried future employers may be concerned about him leaving this position so soon (a Forbes article states that the average tenure for Millennials is 2.3 years).

He thanked me for my “awesome” advice, but had decided to go in a different direction.

This entire situation made me think: Why do so many Millennials seem to be constantly on the move for bigger and better things?

I work mostly with Baby Boomers but often help Millennials with career moves. I notice a distinct difference in the attitudes of the two groups regarding career change: younger workers are always ready to move on; the older ones stay put longer.

A big concern employers have with Millennials came to life with this data analyst. At the time he talked with me, he had been at this company for nine months. His position prior to that… eight months.

His choices remind me of decisions I made at his age, so I’m not judging. I was reckless and changed jobs like people change socks. This type of thinking doesn’t sit well with companies, as the Forbes article states:

“For companies, losing an employee after a year means wasting precious time and resources on training & development, only to lose the employee before that investment pays off. Plus, many recruiters may assume the employee didn’t have time to learn much at a one-year job.”

Something I emphasized that night when talking with that potential client was how his resume would look if he chose to leave. To employers, his resume would show a job hopper rather than someone extremely talented at what he does. While job hopping doesn’t have the same negative stigma as it once did; it is all relative.

If the average Millennial stays at a job 2.3 years – and this young professional was on his third job in 17 months – that can’t be good, right?

On the other hand, some of my unemployed Baby Boomers feel as if they’ve been betrayed by the company they worked at for 25 years. They pride themselves for showing loyalty. At the same time, they wonder why their company didn’t show that same level of commitment.

Compared to this very empty feeling, perhaps Millennials have the right approach to career development. Maybe it’s better to leave sooner – to strike while new and better opportunities exist – rather than stay on too long.

Maybe loyalty and commitment are dead. On both sides.

So, what’s the answer?

For me, I’ll continue to advise my clients that their best bet is stay put for awhile; four years at each position to grow, develop skills and show that they are patient enough to let good things happen. 

But I’ll also advise them to study their Boomer counterparts, especially the tough lessons they’ve had to learn about loyalty. And rather than stay too long… they need to know when it’s time to go.


Bob McIntosh AuthorAbout the Author: Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer who leads more than 15 job search workshops at an urban career center. Jobseekers and staff look to him for advice on the job search. In addition, Bob has gained a reputation as a LinkedIn authority in the community. Bob’s greatest pleasure is helping people find rewarding careers in a competitive job market. Follow Bob on Twitter and LinkedIn.



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