Changing Jobs

What a New Report Reveals About Job Hopping Across Generations

generational job hopping
Written by Guest Contributor

We’re all familiar with the narrative: Baby Boomers are devoted workaholics, Gen Xers are ambitious revenue generators, Millennials are entitled and disloyal, and Gen Zers, who are only just entering the workforce now, are likely to be even more opportunistic than their older counterparts. The idea that the generation you belong to impacts your tendency to job hop is a popular opinion. But for the most part, it’s also just that: opinion.

In fact, recent studies have shown that the notion that younger generations are less likely to stick around than Baby Boomers and Gen Xers is something of a myth. And now, thanks to LiveCareer’s 2018 Job-Hopping Report, we have a whole new heap of insights on this topic.

The analysis investigated job churn across the four generations mentioned above – Baby Boomers (1946 to 1964); Gen Xers (1965 to 1980); Millennials (1981 to 1997); and Gen Zers (1998 to present) – while also looking at trends by occupation and education level. What it found was that yes, younger generations do appear to spend less time in positions than their older colleagues – Gen Zers’ average job tenure is 1.2 years, millennials’ is 2.4, Gen Xers’ is 5.4, and Baby Boomers’ is 8. A comparison of the number of positions held over the past five years across generations paints a similar picture.

But, according to the report, the dynamics that inform this pattern have very little to do with cohort membership.

It’s about career maturation, not generation

Findings suggest that this trend is more linked to life and career stage than generational factors. In other words, millennials and Gen Zers aren’t more likely to jump ship just because they are millennials and Gen Zers, but rather because they’re younger and at an earlier juncture in their careers. In fact, longitudinal surveys reveal that older generations were just as flighty when they were young professionals in a similar phase of their work life.

The report concludes that as employees move further along their career path, they tend to stay longer in roles. This is supported by data that shows that the job-hopping inclination of software developers (the vast majority of whom are Millennials) trends downwards when comparing the past two years of their careers to the past five.

So, the good news for all you younger workers is that you now have a strong counterargument when someone labels millennials as the job-hopping generation. But that doesn’t mean you can relax entirely. There is another demographic factor that is, apparently, a good gauge of job-hopping tendencies, and that’s education.


The curse of being too educated

 Simply put, the analysis found that the more educated you are, the more likely you are to change jobs regularly – a high school graduate, for instance, tends to stay put for longer than someone with a bachelor’s degree. This trend is linked to another finding that today, across a range of occupations, job seekers often possess a higher level of education than is required.

For example, blue-collar workers, like servers, cashiers, bartenders, and caregivers, list higher education qualifications when they build a resume 8.3x more often than blue-collar employers include them as requirements in job ads.

As being overqualified is linked to an affinity for job hopping, possessing a degree you don’t need for a position might damage your chances of getting the job. And because millennials are more educated than previous generations (65% have a higher education, as compared to 57.2% of Gen Xers and 48.5% of Baby Boomers), they’re most likely to be hit the hardest by this truth.


To list or not to list qualifications on your resume?

So, what do you do if you’ve gone to the trouble of earning a degree, but the job you want doesn’t call for one? To avoid being seen as a potential flight risk, consider leaving your higher education off your resume – particularly if you’re applying for a non-professional role. We’re not promoting dishonesty, but it may be in your interest to play down your qualifications in the earlier stages of the job application process to at least get an interview.

You can take this one step further when it comes to professional certifications and licenses – don’t even enroll for them if they’re not requirements. While there are some fields where employers do value these credentials, the report indicates that there are also jobseekers in many roles who have poured time and money into training that most hiring managers don’t find valuable. These include administrative assistants, bartenders, cashiers, store managers, customer service representatives, sales associates and software developers.

In particular, if you’re one of the last three, it’s probably not worth investing in costly certificates and testing at all.  Not one job ad examined for these professions made mention of any certifications or licenses, so attaining one is not only unnecessary but could make you appear overqualified.


The answer lies in the job ad

The best way to know whether you should or shouldn’t list your degree on your resume or sign up for that certificate program is to carefully examine job ads. And not just the ad for the role you’re currently eyeing; scrutinize a wide range of postings relevant to your field and take note of the highest level of education listed and of any credentials regularly cited as must-haves. 

By doing so, you’ll get a good idea of the kind of qualifications employers consider critical. And if you pitch yourself at this level and make sure your resume closely matches requirements, you can avoid being labeled a job hopper, regardless of your generation.

Discover additional findings on job hopping, plus a free PDF download of the full report, via this link: 2018 Job-Hopping Report.

LiveCareer offers assistance to job seekers at every step of the journey. Access free resume templates and resume examples, plus a cover letter builder and advice on how to answer interview questions of all stripes.

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