Are Millennials the "Job-Hopping Generation?"

Access insight on the state of job hopping across four generations via a 2018 Job-Hopping Report.

Fairly or unfairly, it seems that every generation is assigned some moniker to describe its members. Gen X, for example, was labeled the "lost" generation and, true or not, the stigma was hard to shake. As recently as 2014, the Pew Research Center referred to Gen X in a report as "America's neglected 'middle child.'"

But then came the attention on Millennials, and a whole new batch of labels to describe this group of roughly 71 million people born between 1981 and 1997. Now well-established in the workforce, the name that is tossed around most frequently about this generation is that they are job hoppers, or a group of workers who are more willing than any previous generation to leave one professional opportunity for another.

But is it true? LiveCareer's recently released 2018 Job-Hopping Report looked at job-hopping behavior through several lenses, one of which was through the lens of generation. Are Millennials guiltier of changing jobs more frequently than other generations? The findings of the study are interesting.

Generation and Job-hopping Tendencies

The study produced data that may support the assertion that Millennials job hop at a higher rate than other generations; however, it still may not be a fair assessment. It's true, the study found, that older workers change jobs less often than younger workers do.

On average, Baby Boomers stay in their jobs the longest, at an average of 8 years per job, followed by Gen X at 5.4 years, Millennials with 2.4 years, and Gen Z, whose members stay in jobs an average of 1.2 years. When looking at only the last five years, the findings are similar.

Despite those findings, however, the numbers don't tell the entire story. When taken at face value, Millennials and Gen Z appear to have a higher propensity for job hopping, but other studies have found that similar patterns existed in both Baby Boomers and Gen X in the early stages of their careers.

So, rather than being a product of their generation, Millennials may simply be behaving like all young workers. In short, rather than being a generational trend, higher rates of job hopping may be behavior that is common in all young workers. This seems to be supported by other findings, which show that the average amount of time spent per job does increase as people mature, with older workers staying in roles for more extended periods than younger workers.

However, an article in Wired that compares job-hopping statistics today to what they were in the 1950s found that workers change jobs 62 percent less today than they did between 1950 and 2000 and found that the median job tenure today hasn't changed much since the 1950s.

More Education May Mean More Job Hopping

Another interesting finding? Education levels have a significant impact on job-hopping tendencies and, in most cases, they aren't positive when it comes to retention. In fact, having more education seems to indicate a willingness to job hop more regularly.

Consider this: Millennials are more educated than previous generations - 36 percent of Millennials list bachelor's degrees on their resumes, 10 percent list master's degrees, and another 19 percent listing associate's degrees.

This is important to note. Why? Because the study found that not only did jobseekers with bachelor's degrees change jobs more often, it also found that jobseekers in non-professional (or blue-collar) careers were listing these degrees at a much higher rate when they build a resume than employers were in job ads. This may indicate that these workers are underemployed and therefore underpaid, which could explain an increased desire to change jobs.

The findings underscore the fact that pursuing a higher education degree doesn't always result in stability in the workforce, or even promise professional employment. This finding extends to associates degrees, professional certificates, and licenses as well, which are far less sought after by employers in job ads than resumes might indicate. 

Takeaways for Millennials

Not only do these findings indicate that Millennials aren't necessarily more fickle employees than other generations, but the study may also offer that generation and the up-and-coming Gen Z some useful advice.

Specifically, these younger workers - some of whom are still pursuing their educations - should take note of what educational requirement employers are listing in job ads. Those workers who are already in or who plan to enter blue-collar fields, for example, might be able to save themselves time and money by researching the requirements of their chosen field before they pursue - and pay for - expensive degrees and certifications that may not serve to propel them forward in their careers.

For example, in some roles -- like accountants, registered nurses, servers, and teachers -- job ads and resumes match up relatively well when it comes to mentioning certificates and licenses. This makes sense since the roles in these categories require licensing or certification.

Research is an easy way to ensure that you aren't investing in undervalued degrees, certificates, or professional licenses, since the study found that in many other roles -- such as administrative assistants, bartenders, cashiers, customer service representatives, sales associates, software developers, and store managers -- workers are emphasizing education, professional certifications, and licensing that employers aren't listing as requirements in job ads.

Access additional findings on job hopping and job tenure, plus a free PDF download of
the full report, via the 
2018 Job-Hopping Report.

If you're in need of help with job application materials, put LiveCareer to work. Use
our resume templates and cover letter templates to build attention-getting documents in
no time at all!