Is millennial job-hopping really a problem?

This week, Digiday published a new installment in our ongoing “Ask a Millennial” series, where we ask a focus group of agency and brand-side employees who are under 30 one hot-button question.

The piece dealt with the scourge of millennial job hopping. As a new generation of employees start climbing up the rungs of the agency ladder, executives are lamenting that no matter what they do, turnover remains high. One specific reason for this is that younger millennial employees tend to leapfrog from job go job more than previous generations, often leaving agencies within a year, or sometimes, months. The piece clearly resonated, sparking significant debate in the comments and on social media. So, is job-hopping actually on the rise — and if so, is that such a bad thing? The debate rages on.

Maybe millennials just define job-hopping differently.
Much was made of one answer from a young account-side employee, who said she hasn’t job-hopped, despite having had two jobs in three years — and three jobs in four years. “Interesting perspective,” said commenter Corey Kornengold. “Rachel” echoed the comment: “Is there another story here about how agency millennials define job-hopping?”

Job hopping isn’t new, really. “A career in the ad agency industry has always been about jumping around in your 20s and early 30s for more money, higher positions, and better accounts,” said Nader Mikhael. “This has been happening for over 20 years. Nothing new here. Things change in your late 30s and 40s because responsibilities increase exponentially especially when you’re married, have kids, and own a house. Then it becomes about staying indispensable in your current job rather than making an adventurous move unless you have to or because a new offer is just too good.”

It may not even be a strictly “millennial” problem. “I’m far from being a millennial,” said one anonymous commenter. “I don’t see where the ‘crisis’ is. Why would you stay at any job for longer than 18 to 24 months unless they’re really treating you great? When you’re early on in your career, make the jumps, make some money, then hang around when it feels right to hang around. Why would anyone do anything else?”

Job-hopping isn’t always a choice. “Many of us agency folks were hit hard by job cuts and forced into positions for less money, longer hours or were ‘survivors’ who kept things afloat by working extra hard while short staffed,” said Amanda T. “I didn’t job hop because it was a cool thing to do — I job hopped because I was laid off, took a job out of necessity that abused my work/life balance and sanity, and kept trying to find a place with more reasonable expectations. Would you stay at an agency job that worked you 60+ hours a week for $35,000 when you had 7 years of experience? No way.”

“Copywriter, 26,” echoed that, saying that it’s often just a quesiton of survival. At smaller agencies, employers aren’t that loyal. “Better for you to be in control of your future rather than letting others decide it.”

Whatever the reason, it matters.
“I have been here for almost 30 years. Why? Because when I landed here I was told the only limits were the ones that I placed on myself,” said one commenter who now owns an agency. “I like to pass those words of wisdom onto our staff. Average tenure here is 10.37 years. Job-hopping matters to me when I’m looking at resumes.”

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