Job-Hopping in the 21st Century: Making Lemonade Out of Lemons

job_hopper_crop380wJob-hopping among employees has been an emerging trend in the labour market. Gone are the days where people stay in one job for their entire career.  The increasing prominence of contract employment versus permanent employment has contributed to this trend.  Some have also attributed this trend to the labour force increasingly consisting of millennials, a more “transient” generation than prior groups, with divergent conceptions of what employment means and whom ascribe high value to the impact one makes through their 9 to 5 job.

As a millennial who has experienced the precarity in the labour force and does indeed ascribe high value in making an impact through the work that I do, job-hopping has become a common practice – sometimes voluntary, sometimes not.  Newcomers to Canada can certainly relate to this reality, as this population is put in a position to adjust to the same labour market trends and conditions, with additional barriers to navigate (i.e. language barriers, lack of recognition for foreign education and/or credentials, etc.).

Indeed, while the lack of stability and certainty in the labour market can be unnerving, it is important to realize that this reality can also present opportunities and result in a push to explore one’s potential.  It can be tough to see the positive in precarity, especially when one is unemployed or underemployed.  Whenever I think about job transition, I have a favourite quote from Mark Twain that keeps me in a positive mindset about impending change:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

I know – often easier said than done. However, another way to look at this, and to use an old adage (perhaps even a cliché), is to make lemonade out of lemons. Instead of lamenting the things you cannot control (i.e. complicated economic pressures and emerging labour force wide convention is difficult to control for even the most seasoned politician), try to embrace the uncertainty.  Explore the opportunities that are available, assess your short-term and long-term goals, and take proactive steps to achieving those goals.

It is also important to ensure that you are the one driving your career. While having opportunities is a positive thing, I have learned that it’s important to take advantage of the right opportunities – ones that will help you achieve those short-term and long-term goals. This is why it is important to reflect on what you want from your career.

I will caution that there does come a point where job-hopping can result in diminishing returns. Future employers may see you as unstable, or a liability to hire. Keeping this in mind, before I have decided to change jobs, I have always done a cost-benefit analysis (what I will lose by moving jobs, and what I will gain) in part so that I can articulate the reasons for my move if I am ever asked. Thankfully I’ve yet to be asked by an employer about my…ahem…numerous experiences.  In fact, the array of skills and knowledge that I have accumulated in my career thus far has been seen as a positive by my employers, past and present.  Nonetheless, it is always important to remember to job-hop with purpose!

These approaches aren’t for everyone, and these insights may not be shared by all. This is fine! Ultimately, the way one approaches their career is an entirely individual decision.  What I can say with some confidence is that the uncertainty that I have experienced in the labour market has forced me to assess and reassess my career goals on an ongoing basis, and as a result, has allowed me to hone in on what I want in a career, but perhaps more importantly, what I don’t want in a career.

Good luck with your journey – don’t be afraid to dream!

Guest blogger, Haweiya Egeh