Your First Job Will Not Be Your Dream Job

Coming out of college, you may picture in your mind the kind of job you would love doing – your dream job. It is one that pays you lots of money, is challenging, enjoyable, exciting. Unfortunately, the odds of finding such a job right out of the gate are very slim, for a number of reasons.

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You are still wet behind the ears, so to speak. You still need to gain experience and the proper skill set that will enable you to perform the kinds of challenging jobs you seek. Your first job may involve a good deal of grunt work, learning the ropes.

You may feel a little disdainful of this kind of work, after spending thousands of dollars and four years of your life earning a degree to prepare you for the working world. But you shouldn’t. It will help you to gain the experience and skills needed to take the next step in your career.

A second reason your first job is unlikely to be a dream job is simply because of a disconnect between what you imagine and reality. We all have an image of what a job will be like, but it seldom comports with real life. It is usually rather vague because we simply do not have enough information about the day-to-day work involved. And this is true even if you have talked with people in the profession. How can you be certain the first job you get is your dream job if you haven’t worked at any other job before?

Finding that dream job, determining your purpose in life and what you are truly passionate about, is more of a journey than anything else. In the beginning, you really don’t know enough about the working world to be so sure about your dream job. A career progression is about exploration. You may take a job you think you will like but find that you enjoy doing something else more. And this may happen several times during your career.

Moreover, there are many things that go into making a dream job other than just what is contained in the job description. These are factors that can make for work that is challenging and fulfilling or something much worse, such as the kind of supervisor you have, your coworkers, and the company culture.

Your destination is a way off. It is something you cannot even see when you take your first “real,” professional job. Your first employment should be looked at as a learning experience. Use it to find out all you can about your industry, your role in it, your company, and about yourself. Use it to begin the process of getting clear in your own mind what you want to do.

According to some business experts, your first job can be considered a good one if you have a boss who is not unreasonable, you fit in with the company culture, you look forward to going to work in the morning, and it provides you with a learning opportunity.

Today, when technology is advancing so rapidly, career experts say it is unwise to focus on a particular job, but rather on planning a career. After all, some jobs that exist now will be gone in the future. The better course of action is to think strategically about career development and look at your first job as just the initial step in your career, a place where you can begin to acquire the knowledge and skills and meet the people who will enable you to move to the next step.

If you’re ready to move on from your first job out of college – or if you’ve recently graduated and are still looking for that first opportunity, take a look at our current openings and, if one or more look promising, follow application instructions or call the Helpmates branch location nearest you.

College Grads: Tell Your Folks to Back Off

They are called helicopter parents, and for good reason. The term is used to denote parents who hover over their children, inserting themselves incessantly into the lives of their offspring, attempting to micromanage and control their lives.

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If the above sounds like a description of YOUR parents, we know they mean well. They actually don’t realize they are going too far in taking over your lives, but see themselves rather as helping. They are not aware that they are doing more harm than good.

But employers are looking for people who can think independently, who can make decisions on their own, who have the motivation and drive from within. If your mom or dad gets involved, talking to a hiring manager or showing up to an interview (this DOES happen!), it makes the hiring manager question whether you have the maturity needed for the job. Bottom line: It reflects poorly on you.

Just a couple of truly egregious examples of parents “helping” their young-adult children in job interviews:

  • In the link above, a mother brought a cake to the company to help convince the hiring manager to hire her daughter.
  • Another mother asked if she could sit in during the interview and yet another parent Skyped in during the interview.
  • One woman even asked if she could be interviewed on behalf of her daughter!

In one study, about one-fourth of employers contacted reported that parents were involved during the hiring process for college seniors. Of those parents, only about four percent actually showed up for an interview, but about 40 percent were involved in researching companies, one-fourth advocated for their child, and another 15 percent complained to the company if their child did not get the job.

Face palm!

Career experts say that there are a number of ways that parents can be involved in their children’s job search without becoming too overbearing or obtrusive. If your parents are too involved, here are some tips on how to ask them to back off.

  1. Tell them you’re happy if they tell their own network of your job search.

Your folks can let their contacts know you’re looking for a job, but ask them to do no more than that. Your parents should just give the contact’s information and let you take the ball and run with it from there.

  1. If they ask, say yes to them offering to help you look for jobs.

Your parents definitely can help you by looking for job openings on job boards, company websites, social media and the like, and passing them along.

  1. Let them be your sounding board. And ONLY a sounding board.

Job hunting is stressful and often frustrating. Your parents can act as a sounding board for you when you need to complain and vent, and parents can offer advice. But your parents shouldn’t try to shield you from failure, which at one time or another is inevitable.

Failure actually is a good thing: you learn how to handle it and learn from it.

Helicopter parents are more common among millennials and members of GenZ, as these parents more than likely were much more involved in their life than previous parental generations.

But you need to let your helicopter parents know in no uncertain terms that it is not OK to contact a potential or actual employer directly. Suggest other ways for them to channel their energies, such as those listed above.

If you are having trouble getting through to them, try enlisting the help of another member of the family who has a more realistic perspective – a sibling, aunt, uncle, or grandparent.

Whether you’re a new college or high school grad, whether you’ve been in the workforce for years or want to return after a hiatus, contact the recruiters at Helpmates for help in your job search.

Take a look at our current job opportunities and then follow the directions for applying to those that interest you. You also may contact the Helpmates branch office nearest you.

 

 

Working Hard – or Workaholic?

We all believe hard work is necessary for success in life and in our careers. But even hard work can be harmful if we take it too far, because then it slips into something that can take over our life – workaholism. It is similar to an addiction, where we feel the need to work excessively and compulsively. We feel uncomfortable when not working

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And today, when technology has become ubiquitous and the boundaries between work and personal life begin to dissolve, it is easier than ever to fall into the trap of workaholism. People are tethered to their jobs by their smartphones, text messages and email. Here in the United States, more than half of those surveyed said they check email after 11 p.m. And more than 56 percent check it 5.6 hours every day, Monday-Friday.

Although workaholism is gaining more attention, there is still little data on how many people fall into the category of workaholic. Some estimates in the U.S. put the number as high as one-fourth of all workers. In Norway, where studies have been made, the number of workaholics appears to be a little under 10 percent of the workforce.

The Workaholism Scale

Researchers at the University of Bergen in Norway have developed a list of seven basic criteria for workaholism. If you answer “often” or “always” on four or more of the criteria, the chances are good that you are a workaholic. Here is the list:

  1. You are always looking for ways to free up more time for work.
  2. You usually spend more time working than you originally planned.
  3. You work to escape feelings of anxiety, guilt or depression.
  4. Your friends, family and/or colleagues have told you that you should cut back on the amount of time you spend working, but you generally ignore them.
  5. You get stressed out when you cannot work.
  6. Work is always your number one priority, crowding out other important activities in your life, such as hobbies, leisure activities, and exercise.
  7. You work so much that it has affected your health.

People may believe that workaholism is a way of being more productive, getting more done, getting ahead of the curve and so reducing stress. But the exact opposite is true. Working all the time, without taking time to recover and reenergize, leads to burnout, lower productivity, higher stress, and more health problems.

Fighting Workaholism

If you think you may be a workaholic, what can you do to get your life back on a more even keel? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Try to reduce the distractions when you work, so you get more done in less time. If you can, try working from home to reduce distractions. Or put on headphones or close your office door, if possible.
  2. Delegate more work to others.
  3. Put more emphasis on a healthy work-life balance. You can do this by trying to reduce your work time to a 40-hour work week. Try meditating. Take the time to exercise and socialize more. Set priorities – get the important stuff done first. Schedule a time period for your tasks and stick to it. Learn how to say no to people when they ask for help if you already have too much on your plate.
  4. Turn off the electronics when you leave work. Don’t check your email or send email.
  5. Develop a morning routine. This sets the tone for the entire day.

We’re always looking for hard workers (but not workaholics)! If you’re looking for a new job or just for work for a few days or weeks, contact the Helpmates branch nearest you. And make sure to check out our latest temporary, temp-to-hire and direct-hire job openings.

No Job is a Dream Job: All Jobs are WORK

We often think that getting our dream job will make our lives all rainbows and unicorns. But dream jobs are, plain and simple, myths. All jobs involve doing tasks we don’t like – we have to take off the rose-colored glasses and accept that all jobs have both the good and the bad.

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You may think you have found your dream job, but it’s just impossible to get a clear, complete picture of any job until you are actually doing it. The job may look wonderful because of the type of work involved or the particular company you will be working for, but that feeling of euphoria could dissipate rapidly if your supervisor turns out to be narcissistic and unreasonable, or your coworkers are unfriendly, or the company culture is not a good fit.

The Downside of the Dream Job

In fact, psychologists and business experts agree that believing in and looking for that dream job is actually a harmful mindset to get into. You are more than likely just laying the groundwork for disappointment. Or you may be so convinced you have found your dream job that you refuse to acknowledge the warning signs for trouble. Others, in a similar state of stubborn denial, refuse to acknowledge their so-called dream job is more of a nightmare because they cannot face the prospect of being wrong about it.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with wanting to do work that you truly enjoy. The problem begins when you develop an idealized version of the job in your mind, which seldom comports with reality. And when you have to confront that reality, it can lead to confusion and setbacks, which may end up leading you further away from what you really want to do rather than toward it. We see in our dream job all of the plusses without thinking about the minuses, all of the struggles and sacrifices that are inevitably involved in any job.

The Dream Job Changes

Another reason the dream job is a myth – our vision of such a job is always evolving and changing because we are growing and maturing. Our attitudes, values and beliefs are changing, so what we consider to be the perfect job changes as well. We gain experience and our perspective alters. For example, as a child, a person’s dream job may have been that of a fireman, but as the person matures, it may become a robotics engineer.

The job may change also as the parts that form the job change. For example, you may love your job, but you may get a new boss or new coworkers, or there may be changes in company operations or policy that affect your job, and suddenly it is no longer a dream job.

The march of progress may also change your image of a dream job. Technology is creating new jobs all the time, while rendering others obsolete.

It’s natural for your dream job to change over time as you move through your career.  There is nothing wrong with that. What you need to avoid, however, is chasing after a chimera, something that doesn’t exist, except in your mind.

Rather than focusing on some mythical dream job, strive to grow and develop in your career, to enhance your opportunities and options. Even if you don’t land a job you love immediately, as you advance in your working life, you will move closer to your dream job. Every experience is valuable if you learn from it and grow from it. Finding the perfect job is more of a journey, one that is not a straight line, but one that involves trial and error, and testing things out.

Speaking of trying things out, if you’re not sure what type of career you want, consider working as a temporary associate at Helpmates and give different types of jobs and industries a shot. Take a look at some of our current openings and if one or more piques your interest, following application instructions or contact the Helpmates branch nearest you.

When You’re Really Asked to Do the Job to Get the Job

It’s fairly common these days for companies to ask job candidates to perform some task or do some assignment to showcase their skills. This is a perfectly reasonable request. In fact, it is a good idea for employers to ask for evidence of a candidate’s work to really see what he or she can do. It helps the employer make better decisions on whom to hire.

Brea Jobs

Such tryouts give a more complete picture of a job candidate’s abilities, which might not be evident from just an interview. Conversely, there are people who interview well, but may not have the skillset that is required.

But when it comes to tryouts, there is a troubling trend that has been developing. Instead of some concise task or brief assignment, companies are increasingly asking job candidates to undertake lengthy and more complicated assignments, ones that demand a good deal of time and effort.

Important note: We have talked in the past about “doing the job to get the job” as a way of standing out among a sea of similar candidates. But when we recommend you do it, it’s voluntary, something you do on your own initiative.

Or, if you are asked to create a specific type of document or complete a short project, we recommend that you take it upon yourself to do more than is asked of you: write three social media plans rather than one; create two newsletter templates than just two.

How can you tell when you’re basically being asked to work for free? Some examples:

For example, an event planner was asked by a company to submit not one but three proposals for events that covered every aspect of the affair, including things like budgets, marketing, staffing and design. The company expected candidates to finish this assignment within seven days.

Another job candidate was asked to produce a 30-minute learning video, with voice over, discussion, graphics, and other features, a job that would normally take about 30 hours of work and cost several thousand dollars.

Assignments like these are asking for much more than is needed to judiciously evaluate a job candidate’s skills.

Candidates may sometimes be uncertain whether a particular job tryout is going over the line. If you are unsure, consider the time and effort you need to put into a project. A guideline some career counselors recommend is that if an assignment takes more than three hours, the job candidate should be paid for it.

The purpose of a short assignment is to assess how you think, your analytical ability and creativity. Longer assignments are generally tasks someone is hired to do because of their expertise, in other words, more what an employee does.

Remember: There is no legal way for an employer to ask you to work without paying you. Any employer that does so is breaking the law.

What You Can Do

If you are a job candidate and encounter a tryout request that seems unreasonable, what recourse do you have? One option is to walk away. And this is something to consider because an employer who would make an unreasonable tryout request may have unreasonable expectations for the job itself.

If, however, you cannot afford to take yourself out of consideration, you can also try negotiating with the employer. One way of doing this is to suggest a more streamlined version of the assignment, one that is no more than an hour or two. Or you could simply offer to provide a portfolio of your work.

Possibly the Worst of the Worst: Manipulators

While some employers are simply inconsiderate – or ill-informed as to the law – in expecting job candidates to complete long and involved assignments, others have a more underhanded motive: getting something for nothing. They have no intention of using the work to gauge a person’s qualifications, but rather to get a service for free.

There are a few telltale signs that you may be the victim of this type of manipulation. One is receiving an assignment several days after an initial interview without any prior notice or follow up plans. Another is being asked to put together a detailed strategy or redesign, or to write a full article or presentation. If the company is genuinely interested in your qualifications, the assignment will usually involve some hypothetical situation.

We understand why you may be afraid to say no to a potential employer, but do be careful. As mentioned above, any employer who requires you to do hours of work without compensation more than likely really is not a good employer. Run away. Fast!

If you need to find work quickly, consider registering here with us at Helpmates. You can work on temporary assignments with us while you look for other work. What’s more, many temporary assignments do turn into more permanent work.

Contact the Helpmates branch nearest you, or take a look at our current opportunities and if any appeal to you, follow the instructions for applying.

You’re the Boss of You

You have a terrific job with a stable company. You love your supervisor and your co-workers and they love you. The company is growing and things are good.

For now.

We can’t emphasize this enough: never become complacent. Things can – and too often do – change in an instant. Recessions hit. Companies get bought by larger companies and the buying company lays off most of the smaller business’ employees. Your beloved boss leaves and your new boss dislikes you. Really dislikes you. You turn 50.

Job stability is a myth. Let us repeat: job stability is a myth.

So who’s your real boss? YOU ARE.

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You know those entrepreneurs you admire? It’s time start thinking of yourself as a business: the business of you.

That’s right: even though it’s a hot, hot, hot candidate market today, the job market is unstable. It’s therefore best to think of yourself as a free agent. Master of your future. Self-employed. A business owner.

Here’s how to think like the owner of one-employee business.

  • Always be learning. Learning new skills, both hard and soft. Get certified in something. Repeat. Get a degree (choose carefully). Learn online.  Read about your industry and the position you hold within it.
  • Look for new clients – um, employers — often. If you were a self-employed person what do you think you’d be doing a great deal of? Finding clients! You need to do the same as the boss-of-you because your only current client – your employer – could disappear quickly. And it’s better to find a new employer while you still have this one. You don’t have to take a new job if it’s offered, but keep networking, keep seeing what’s out there. Keep talking to potential “new clients.”
  • Start a side hustle. You should do this for two reasons: if you do find yourself unemployed, your side gig can help pay some bills and also because with a lot of work nights and on weekends, it could grow so that you could leave your employer and be a true self-employed dynamo. (Hint:  self-employment can be a way to have real “job stability.” Why? Because it’s much easier – and quicker—to find clients than it is to find a new employer.)

If you do find yourself suddenly free of your current “largest client,” Helpmates can help you keep earning while you look for your next “one client” (or as you build your own business).

Take a look at our current openings. If you find one or more that interest you, follow the job description’s instructions or contact the Helpmates branch nearest you.

The Art of Posting Engaging Comments on LinkedIn

Do you often comment merely “Good point” or “Great article!” when one of your LinkedIn connections posts something interesting on the platform?

Well, blah, blah, blah: you might as well have not commented at all, so little is your reply going to help you build a professional network. (Although it sure will make your connection feel good, so there’s that, at least.)

LinkedIn is an incredible tool for building your professional brand and it’s not hard at all to “work” the social platform to do so. Plus, it’s enjoyable!

Buena  Park recruiters

Take a look below for how to comment on LinkedIn in ways that result in engagement….and growth in your professional brand.

LinkedIn’s algorithm loves it when you provide engaging comments and shows its love by giving your profile more visibility. The more your profile pops up in other members’ feeds, the better for your visibility on the social platform.

But the key words here are “engaging comments.” The “Good point” gets you nowhere.

In other words, if you put in the effort to comment and so long as those comments provide – ahem – value to your network, LinkedIn pays attention….and helps you rise up in your connections’ feeds as well as their connections. Your presence on LinkedIn thus grows exponentially, as does your brand.

What types of comments are engaging and provide value?

Those that reply to something in the original post and then add an opinion or fact to the conversation.

For example: let’s say a connection posts that they’re having a tough day with a client and that they did such and such to make the day better.

A good comment for you would be to acknowledge that what they did was brilliant. And then to add your own reasoning as to why their successful action worked.

Notice that you didn’t give an example of when you had an unhappy client and what you did to make him feel better. Instead, you kept your comment focused on your connection’s success and then backed up their genius with a reason why it was genius.

Another example:

Let’s say someone comments/complains that they’ve noticed that new connections always seem to ask them for a meeting or a conversation as soon as they become a connection!

A good reply would be to commiserate: “Sheesh, that’s annoying!” and then add that you’ve noticed that those who provide the best value on LinkedIn usually try to build rapport with a new connection first before asking for a sale. This way you don’t denigrate any who one who does ask for a sale immediately and you infer that your connection is the type who would never do that (of course!).

Additional Types of Engaging Comments:

  • Ask a clarifying question of the original post or commenter.
  • Add a link to relevant data that backs up your comment, if applicable (the link should not go to your own work).
  • Mention your own success applying the technique/advice in the post.

General LinkedIn Commenting Guidelines:

  • Always keep comments professional. Always. No matter what.
  • Never slander or insult other commenters.
  • Keep your comment relevant only to your area of expertise.
  • Focus your comment on building up the person who started the conversation.
  • Be polite and gracious.
  • Never use ALL CAPS.

Have you looked at our job opportunities lately? If not, take a look and if one or more look interesting, follow the instructions on the job posting and/or contact the Helpmates branch nearest you.

Is 50 the New 65?

Why There’s a Good Chance Your Career Could be Over in Your 50s

If you’re nearing 50, older than 50 or plan on being 50 someday, you need to read this: ProPublica.org published a story in late December – one backed up by rigorous research with the highly respected Urban Institute – that said 56 percent of people older than 50 are being “pushed out” of a “longtime” job “before they choose to retire.”

Torrance careers

It doesn’t matter what your salary is, what profession you’re in, if you have a college degree or not, whether it’s a recession or a boom: if you’re 50 and over, you stand a very good chance of leaving your job earlier than you’d like to. What’s more, according to the article, many of those this happens to often suffer “financial damage that is often irreversible.”

Yowza!

The study took a look at data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), considered to be a top source of information regarding aging in America. From 1992 to 2016, the HRS followed what the article calls a “nationally representative sample of about 20,000 people from the time they turn[ed] 50 through the rest of their lives.”

In other words, the study followed people 50 and over through boom, bust, boom, bust, and so on. Through the first tech/Internet boom and the most recent. Through the Great Recession and the current stock market rise and jobs boom and found that between the time someone “entered” the study and when he or she left paid employment, 56 percent “are laid off or leave a job under such financially damaging circumstances that it’s likely they were pushed out rather than choosing to go voluntarily.”

And what happened to them once they are out of work? “Only one in 10 of these workers ever again earns as much as they did,” the article states. “Even years afterward, the household incomes of over half of those who experience such work disruptions remain substantially below those of workers who don’t.”

We urge you to read the entire article. It’s a long one, but it goes into great detail about the different ways people are told/”encouraged” to leave and who is most liable to be let go. It’s an important eye opener.

Bottom line? Leaving work before you’re even eligible to take advantage of Social Security and Medicare – even being able to start drawing down your 401(k) without tax penalty – is a real possibility for anyone.

It’s obvious this definitely is a form of age discrimination/ageism. The right thing to do is to call your California and Congressional representatives and ask for stronger age discrimination and hiring protections.

Still, understand that leaving your job at mid-life before you’re ready appears to be something to anticipate, as sure as we anticipate that the sun will come up tomorrow and we we’re going to need to eat again a few hours after lunch.

In other words, be prepared to retire in your 50s, rather than your 60s.

Don’t think it can’t happen to you because it can. What will you do if it does? What will you live on? Do you have savings? What’s your debt load like? Will you be paying college tuition for children? Do you have a mortgage?

If you’re 45 and younger (especially if you’re in your 20s or 30s), knowing that this is a real possibility gives you plenty of time to prepare. If you’re close to 50 or already in your 50s, it’s probably wise to sit down with your family and figure out some possible contingency plans.

Being forewarned means you can become forearmed.

If you do find yourself laid off or “encouraged” to leave your employer in your 50s, don’t forget about Helpmates. We can help you keep income coming in while you look for another position. We also can help you find that next position. Contact the Helpmates branch nearest you.

Dealing with an Over-talkative Co-Worker

What’s by far the best thing about work? Engaging with colleagues! Several studies have found that the thing just about all of us like about work the most is the camaraderie and engagement going to work each day provides us as we interact with colleagues and customers.

In other words: we often enjoy work because of our co-workers.  Humans, in short, are people persons!

Fullerton Careers

Yet as much as you enjoy chatting with friends there usually is at least one colleague who just…takes the talking up a notch to where it becomes too much of a good thing. As in, you have a hard time getting work done because a certain work buddy is always stopping by with the latest work news, news of the world, personal news, and so on.

Take a look below to learn how to deal with an over-talkative co-worker professionally and kindly.

  • Remember, chatting is good.

Talking with colleagues helps you build professionally personal bonds. If you want to take  the relationship to a true personal level – that is, be friends beyond work – that’s up to both of you. It’s not necessary to become best buds but daily interaction in a friendly way is important – and makes going to work enjoyable.

  • Always be polite when you want to disengage – or not engage at all.

If a colleague comes up and starts talking without asking if you have the time, politely let him know you are on a deadline or are deep in the throes of something and could this wait until you have more time to give your friend your full attention? Say something like “I’d love to hear more, but I need to get XX done now.” NEVER fib, saying you need to prep for a conversation with your boss in 15 minutes without really having a confab with your boss in 15 minutes.

  • Wear headphones or ear buds when you really want to concentrate.

You don’t need to actually listen to anything, but wearing headphones has become something of a universal “do not disturb” sign in the workplace.

Important nice-guy/gal tip: don’t jam the headphones on as soon as you see Chatty Charlie headed your way. He’ll no doubt see it and his feelings will be hurt. Instead, make sure to put your headphones on every time you need to do concentrated work.

  • You’re wearing your headphones but the colleague interrupts you anyway.

If this happens, explain your need for concentration and ask if your colleague needs help with a work-related problem that can’t wait or if he has other truly work-related news. If he says yes, determine if it really is important. If it isn’t critical for RIGHT NOW, ask if you two could schedule a conversation for a bit later.

In other words, ascertain if it really is important to talk right then because sometimes it, well, is.

  • If your friend doesn’t get the “do not disturb” message for non-critical conversation, it’s time for “the talk.”

Gently explain how much you enjoy speaking with your friend, but that there are sometimes you need to concentrate. You value his friendship, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, and that’s concentrate on something.

If your friend balks or is affronted, understand that your request is a legitimate one: work is for working after all. If your friend doesn’t understand that, it’s on him, not you and it pretty much shows a lack of maturity and/or self-centeredness one his part.

If he persists or if he starts teasing, cajoling, whining, or even bullying you somewhat over this – and especially if the friend still interrupts you without concern for your need to concentrate – it may be time to speak with your own supervisor about it or even HR.

Are you looking for new work friends with whom to share quips at the water cooler? Then take a look at some of our current job opportunities and if one or more appeal to you, follow the application directions or contact the Helpmates’ branch office nearest you.

When it’s Time to “Settle Down”: No More Job Hopping

Is this you? You’re 25 or 27 and have been in the workforce either since graduating high school or college and you’re on your fourth job. You stayed at your first job a year, your second and third jobs 18 months each (well, let’s quibble: 16 months for that third job) and now, well into your fourth you’re getting….restless.

Los Angeles Careers

Stop! Employers tend to be quite open to young people who move from job to job their first few years in the workforce. But around or even before the five-year mark, they start to think twice about hiring someone who sticks around for less than a couple of years at previous jobs, especially if someone has four or more jobs on the resume in those five years.

And the job-hopping stigma is particularly acute for college graduates or for those with certifications/licenses that put them on a more traditional career track. In fact, job hopping, if done strategically – and if the hopper has an in-demand skill – can be a way to accelerate a career trajectory and/or receive considerable salary increases with each jump.

But the operative words here are: in-demand skills and strategic. Most people tend to hop about haphazardly, and that kind of job-to-job movement can hurt you in the long run, especially if several employment stints in a row are less than nine months to a year in length.

Here’s how to stop incessant hopping as you approach your mid- to late-20s.

  • Your youth IS a time to explore.

There’s really no harm nor foul if you start your first “real job” after college or high school graduation and then leave in less than a year. Employers understand this: they know that young workers may not know exactly what they want out of their work life/career. They know that even if the young person was gung ho in the beginning, she may end up finding that the company or career just isn’t for her. So leaving your first job before a year is up is OK.

However, if you enjoy the work, if you like the company, and especially if you come to the realization that this career really is one you want to pursue, you could aim to stay there for two years or so. There’s no harm in sticking around in your first job, either.

  • Remember, no matter how much you love a company, an industry or your job, it will get boring. All jobs do.

Our point? Don’t leave a job merely because you get bored. Or the excitement dissipates. No job is fun all the time. Most jobs have a lot of repetition and same old, same old. This is reality. This is the way of work and careers.

You don’t need to stay if you’re miserable, of course, but it’s often the case that newly minted workers somehow, kinda sorta, subconsciously hoped the world of work would be exciting, fresh and new All. The. Time!!!

So if you leave your first job in eight months because it wasn’t as exciting or interesting as you’d hoped, and then you leave the next one after 14 months for the same reason, and a third job after a year for pretty much the same reason, pause a minute because it may not be the job. It may be your expectations.

If that’s the case, re-read the bullet point just above.

  • How to find “the one.”

Once you’re ready to “settle down” for more than two years after moving between 3-4 jobs by your mid- to late-20s, you want to find a position that you can stick around for more than two years, one in which you can grow and prosper.

You’ve no doubt found what you don’t like about certain aspects of an industry or career, so you know to steer clear of those. You also probably know what you do like, so you want to move toward those aspects.

So before accepting a new position, follow your gut…and your head. Research the company thoroughly online: check out its LinkedIn page, its social media channels, its news releases, etc. Read its website thoroughly. Google its name and see what information comes up. After the interview and before you accept a job offer, ask if you can talk to your possibly-soon-to-be-new colleagues to get a flavor for their personalities and how they enjoy working there.

In other words, because you plan on sticking around for a while, you should aim to find out as much about the company as possible so that you’ll know more about what you’re in for. This way, you will be able to “commit” to your next employer for an I-can’t-believe-you’re-asking-me-to-stay-here-for-more-than-two-looonnnnnng-years time period.

Working as a temporary associate with Helpmates allows you to explore many different industries, companies and even roles within those companies and industries, helping you discover which ones appeal to you for the long term. Take a look at our current opportunities and follow the application instructions on those you find interesting.

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