In Defence Of Being A Serial Job Hopper

Artwork by Tristan Offit.
Your first foray into the world of employment is serious business. In a perfect world you’d jump straight out of education and land comfortably into the job of your dreams, but the reality for many of us is very different. Sorry to all future grads reading this but it’s a necessary reality check. Once you leave uni your one and only mission in life becomes finding a job. A job in your preferred field would be ideal but really anything will do. After all, you’ve shelled out obscene amounts of cash to fund your precious degree and now’s the time to put it to good use. Forget about the hundreds, sometimes thousands, of other hopeful applicants just like you applying for the same roles, just go out there and make your parents proud. But what if having a job means more to you than a guaranteed payment at the end of each month? What if – crazy thought here – you need fulfilment in a career that you’re passionate about? Do you get sucked into the grim cycle of working for work’s sake or do you take a risk and try to do something that will actually make you happy? You know the saying “Sometimes you have to kiss a few frogs to find your prince”? The same applies to dream job hunting, and it’s predicted that millennials will have nine jobs in a lifetime. Sometimes you have to endure the most excruciating circumstances at some of the worst so-called ‘businesses’ before finding something you truly love. Take me, for example. I’d describe my employment history as varied and a tad inconsistent with a dash of “What was I thinking?” and a large side of “Thank God I got out of that one”. Yes, I’ve packed up and moved around more than anyone I know, but it’s all in the name of job satisfaction and the quest to land the role that sweeps me off my feet. Let me briefly put things into context: Since graduating from uni a few years ago I turned down my dream job because of the low salary (biggest mistake ever!), settled for a job outside of my chosen field out of pure desperation, attempted and failed miserably to go freelance, switched industries, and rushed into a role that had all the warning signs of a disaster waiting to happen. Quite a colourful career considering I’m still only a few years into my professional working life, but my twists and turns don’t seem to have hindered my ability to find work. Once upon a time, a job applicant with perpetually itchy feet would have been given short shrift by potential employers but it seems attitudes are changing. Sarah Hadj, senior recruitment consultant at Hanson Search, agrees, saying: “Opinion is changing a lot regarding job hoppers, especially with the millennials that are coming through now. We’re noticing that people want more flexibility in their roles. In the past it was seen as appropriate to be in a job for between three and four years, which was the industry average, but that’s now starting to change. And it’s very much a topical conversation amongst businesses about how to keep people in their workforces for longer because of this.”

People who change jobs every year are becoming more in-demand than people who just know how to do one thing

Natasha Stanley, head of content and head coach at career guidance organisation Careershifters, is also very aware of the difference in attitude. “What we’re seeing more of is a recognition of, and an excitement around the idea that the job for life doesn’t really exist anymore. From an institutional perspective it’s because the security just isn’t there, and from an individual perspective there’s been a shift in interest from skill to contribution. People are less interested in what function they can perform within a big machine and much more interested in the talent and experience they can bring to companies,” she says. “People who change jobs every year are becoming more in-demand than people who just know how to do one thing and can do that indefinitely, because they’re bringing a breadth of experience and understanding from lots of different industries and skill sets.” And though she wouldn’t necessarily agree that job hopping in search of the perfect role is the ideal approach – “It’s not necessarily the best argument for potential employers” – she does agree that us dream chasers may be on to something, “A lot of people do it and it’s completely logical and sensical.” We often hear people say things like, “Most people don’t like their jobs, that’s just the way it is” or “I don’t really care what I do, as long as I’m making money”. This HAS TO STOP. We’d be much happier as a society if we didn’t wake up dreading having to go to work everyday, then spend all day with people we don’t like and doing work that we don’t care about, only to arrive home in a foul mood because of the crappy day we’ve just had, and then have to repeat the whole miserable cycle over and over again until old age renders us physically unable to do it anymore. So if you’re about to graduate and have a clear plan in place or, even better, a job awaiting you - congratulations, you’re one of the lucky few. If you’re clutching your newly-acquired degree without a clue what to do next, don’t panic. You’ve got lots of time to explore the job market and find something suitable. And if you’re sitting reading this from the office of the job you’ve despised for as long as you can remember, do something about it. Don’t be afraid to break out of your comfort zone and take a risk. Even if it doesn’t pay off, you haven’t sealed your fate. The perfect opportunity could be right around the corner. Carly Lewis is the founder and editor of career inspiration website LadyLikeYou.

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