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.

If You Don’t Know Where You Want to Go in Your Career, How Can You Get There?

If you don’t know where you want to go, going anywhere will do, right?

But do you really want to “go anywhere” when it comes to something as important as your career?

La Mirada Careers

We know of a truly and genuinely nice man, nearing retirement, who has worked in the cut-throat, exceedingly stressful financial services industry most of his working life. He has made an extremely good living for his family and his wife is quite grateful that his career has made it easy for her to be a stay-at-home mom. But he hasn’t been exactly…..happy in his career.

How did he get into this miserable-yet-lucrative career? He says he pretty much fell into it. He’d wanted to be a journalist in college but he graduated in the midst of the 1980 recession and journalism jobs were hard to find and didn’t pay well, so he took a gig in a bank. And then another position in a financial services firm. Then he got his MBA. Then he got married. Then he started making some serious money. Then they had children and the couple decided she would stay home. More money. More expenses (his children are lucky – and know it – because he and his wife paid for their children’s private-college tuition). And so on. And here he is today, literally counting the days until his retirement.

“If only I’d thought beyond taking that second job because it ‘paid more,’” he says.

Don’t let that happen to you.

No matter where you are in your career – graduating college or high school this spring, a year or two on this side of graduation, five years out, in mid-career, and so on – thinking about where you want to go helps you actually get there.

Yet, unlike the man described above, having a vague “I want to go into this and that” won’t get you far. After all, what if it’s not easy to find jobs in the field you’ve chosen (journalism jobs aren’t exactly plentiful today, either)? What if you meet up with roadblocks? What if you need to postpone the career for a bit and take another job until you find one you want? What if you find you don’t like where you’re headed?

What’s your Plan B? And Plan C? And so on.

But don’t worry, it’s not that you need to map it out completely.

After all, most of us have no idea what will make us happy in the future: we have an “idea,” but we don’t test it out. We think we’ll enjoy being an actress but – oops! – we never thought beyond actually being in a play or movie and forgot how awful it is to actually audition again and again and again and hear no so many times our head explodes from the rejection.

So while you don’t need a step-by-step plan, be careful. Take time to sit with yourself and be brutally honest. You want to help troubled children, but you also love to travel to Europe. Perhaps working as social worker – with its low salary – isn’t for you.

Conversely, let’s say you know exactly what type of career you want and you’ve thought it over carefully, talked to people who work in it, perhaps interned or volunteered within and it feels just right.

Now ask yourself, where do want to be within it in five years? Will you need more education or skills training? Do you want to go into a leadership or management role? How do you know if you’ll be a good fit? What will you do to find out?

And so on.

In other words, don’t wing it: have a plan, yet keep it flexible. Do so, and you have a greater chance of finding work that suits you as well as a career that unfolds as you want it to.

If you’re not quite sure if a field of work is the one for you, experiment with it via temporary assignments with Helpmates. Contact the branch office nearest you and let us know what you’re looking for. If we can help you “try a career” or job, we’ll be happy to do so.

 

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