The Myth of Millennial Job-Hopping

I talk to a lot of people who worry about retaining Millennial employees. They are concerned that Millennials don't want to stay in any one job for long--that they will jump to a new job in a matter of months or just a year or two. I have heard older workers express concern that this would come back to haunt them--having all those different jobs on your resume shows a lack of focus or discipline, they argue. Who would want to hire someone who job-hops so much?!

Which is interesting, because in 1983 the median job tenure for 20-to-24-year-olds (who at that time would all be younger Boomers and older Gen X) was 1.5 years. Today (well, 2014) it's 1.3 years. Hmmm. That doesn't seem radically different to me. When you go to the next age group (25 to 34), you find that in 1983 (ALL Boomers for that group) the median tenure was 3.0 years, and in 2014 (almost all Millennials for that group) it was also 3.0. Source of these data is the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The data suggest that job-hopping is mostly a life-stage thing, not a generational thing. You move around a lot when you're young, and you stay places more when you're older. Perhaps Gen X could be called the job-hoppers, as their numbers were the lowest, but I still think it's not THAT different. The more interesting research that I'd like to see is on WHY people move from job to job at a young age. I'm betting that for Millennials, culture will show up higher on the list than it did for previous generations at that age (and if someone can point me to research like that, please do!).

Let's Talk About Workplace Culture


  1. 16.12.2015 at 12:30 pm

    Hey Jamie, got here via twitter. For me, at almost 32, I have “job-hopped” a bit — once because I switched careers (turns out journalism isn’t that lucrative), then later because I found myself stuck in positions that had no opportunity for growth and weren’t doing anything innovative. I was so bored.
    But the BIGGEST REASON I hopped around was company culture. The associations I worked for had amazing benefits but I was expected to speak when spoken to and defer to colleagues for no reason other than their age. Others had toxic work environments with an excess of petty politics.
    I now work at a for-profit where I’m paid a little less, don’t have half the vacation days, but I’m constantly doing work that I actually like and I’m learning so much. My CMO is invested in my success. And my CEO is brilliant, talks to me like a colleague, and understands that respect is earned, not given.

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