OUTLOOK — By Salim Al Riyami — During my professional career in Human Resources (HR) field, and while handling one of the recruitment campaigns, I could not forget the interview I had conducted with a young potential candidate. After interviewing him for almost 45 minutes, I came to the conclusion that he was a good ‘fit’ for the company; his skill, knowledge and competencies were up to expectation. However, the only issue I had with him was working for five different organisations in just eight years! I asked him, why he had move so much in a short time span? In HR jargon, we call this ‘job hopping’. He looked at me confidently and said “security, career progression and job satisfaction are among my main catalysts for moving around”.
His answer made me ask myself, is job hopping good or bad. In another word, is it a smart move or a career restrain? In order to answer the above question, I decided to call a few of my HR colleagues and business experts to discuss and debate the issue of: finding out when and why to job hop? Is it good or bad? The views are based on individual perspective and life experience.
After a hot discussion, the panel concluded that there are mainly four factors that lead to job hopping, and make people move from one organisation to another. They are:
Different generation and ‘loyalty’: According to the labour market, employees are mainly categorised as three different generations; Baby boomers, Generation X and Generation Y. Baby boomers are mainly in 40’s and late 50’s of age, and they are known for being stuck to one organisation or may be two in their whole career. Generation Y and X, on the other hand, are between early 20’s and late 30’s of age, respectively, and they are known to have a short career span in an organisation.
Therefore, the panel debated on the issue of ‘loyalty’ and how it is measured.
One group (the elder ones) supported a long-term career in just one organisation, claiming that they are loyal to the organisation for such long-term period.
However, the other group (younger ones) questioned their loyalty, claiming that it should be measured in terms of delivery and outstanding performance. The second group argues that it is not the number of years you put in an organisation that adds to your CV and impress employers or interviewers, it is your delivery, contribution and outstanding performance, even for a short-term period, that impresses them.
Security Vs job satisfaction: The panel agreed that money and security are very important during early entries, as junior employees, to the labour market. Home, food, shelter are among the basic needs that are required to live and survive, and which are located in the lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy/pyramid of needs.
Although the panel agrees on this, yet all have argued that preferences also change when people progress in their career, or are located in the middle of the pyramid, ie once they are secure. Some people, and I know a lot of them, have changed their jobs searching for job satisfaction, job enrichment, a better work environment, etc other than money. Therefore, job hopping may depend on factors other than money.
Diversity Vs one type job: One of the colleagues in the panel claimed that job hopping may be good, if it is for the purpose of having different assignments and job profiles; hence enhances skill diversity and appearance on CV. On the other hand, another colleague argued that job hopping may indicate lack of competence and doubts in a person’s stability in his/her organisation, otherwise why the frequent move? He also claimed that becoming an ‘expert’ in a specific lifetime career is better than being a ‘mediocre’ in different jobs in various organisations.
Market competition and the search for talent: It is known that labour market competition has opened up many job opportunities and the search for quality talents have made it easier for people to move between organisations and jobs.
However, I indicated to the panel that this may be ‘tricky’. On one hand, junior employees eager to enter the labour market for desired designations and higher remuneration package may job hop, but they may lack the experience or knowledge that comes with the years of experience required for career progression.
After debating on these four factors, the panel concluded that job hopping may be considered a smart move but the strategy lies on when and why you move, based on the above factors.
A self confession: I have been working in the private sector for about 13 years and I have held many jobs in four different organisations by which I may be considered a job hopper. I have to say that I have never joined any organisation with the intention to stay for only a short period.
My reasons for leaving/resigning have ranged from; a better perspective, career progression, to continuing further studies or even due to family reasons. Whatever the reasons are, I never regret my career movements, and ‘active’ career path!
In the end I would like to leave you with a quote and a motto I tend to support, “Don’t stop hopping until you reach the top”, remember the song by Michael Jackson Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough.