Job hopping vs. non-job hopping between the generations

Q: Job hopping vs. non-job hopping. I was told when I was in
college that you should stay with your employer as long as possible. I
am not saying your whole career but maybe a few jobs over 30 years. My
30 year old son has already had three jobs in the eight years he has
been out of school. What is the norm now?

A: I can hear the debates over the dinner table now! The world is
changing and so is the world of employment. In my parents generation,
many would remain with the same employer for 20-30 plus years, maybe
even retiring with the same company!

In my generation, the beloved baby boomers, employees often have
worked for 5 -8 different employers in their careers and some even
change careers altogether. We have all observed friends and family
members who work in one industry and then move into a teaching role or
to work in a non-profit.

In general, employees are not remaining with the same company for 20
plus years any more. While it occurs, it is rare. A few reasons may be
impacting the increase in career stops. We are becoming more mobile. Few
of us live in the same town/city in which we grew up. Technology has
impacted the workforce. Techies want to learn new skills, be part of
interesting projects and work with smart team members. Some job hopping
may be attractive to employers because it is evidence that the employee
can be adaptable. The job hopper, though, needs to leave each employer
on good terms and not leave a trail of negative feedback from their
former employer and colleagues. Think about it, if you have a slew of
positive job changes, you also are expanding your professional contacts.
Professional contacts are often a reliable source for finding out
employment marketplace intelligence (i.e., who is hiring and when).

Millennials, those roughly 18-34 years old, make up more than
one-third of the US workforce. In 2012, a PayScale report, found that
the median tenure for a millennial employee was two years while a median
tenure of a baby boomer was seven years. Millennials will openly share
that they expect a new opportunity to last just a few years. Millennials
are considered a creative, adaptable and entrepreneurial cohort. They
want to be mentored, not directed. They prefer frequent informal
feedback vs. the once per year “come into my office, I am your manager”
type of performance review. Millennials are not interested in “face
time,” or being seen at 6pm by the division vice president. Instead,
they want to work flexible hours and occasionally work from home.

As the world changes, so does the workforce. It is a challenge for all of us as we try to navigate generational differences.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.