In the last few years of my banking career I had built up a pockmarked resume full of year long to 18 month long "stints." A credit analyst position there. A senior analyst position there. Even managed to make it to assistant vice president (which was a euphemism they used to low ball me on salary). Regardless, the reason for the brevity of the stints was obvious - the banking industry was failing, it was corrupt, and it was dysfunctional.
Of course, the HR and hiring managers interviewing me didn't see it that way. They, naturally, thought there was something wrong with me. And thus, I was asked during pretty much every interview in the last 5 years of my banking career,
"I see a lot of short stays...lot of job hopping. Any reason?"
And by this time I was blunt and too damn tired to lie,
"Yeah, you're industry is screwed up, dysfunctional and losing money. Did you want me to have a long term, loyal stint at banks that were losing money?"
Ironically, this actually landed me several gigs, but the lesson to take away from this little experience of mine is one of "job hopping."
"Job hopping" is usually viewed in a shameful manner by our elders in corporate America. It shows you're not loyal, you're not serious, you aren't reliable, etc. etc.
Of course, this is BS.
The truth is job hoppers are people with two things:
2. Self respect
The primary reason I didn't last longer than 18 months at any one employer was I had dance classes and online classes on the side. And anytime a boss got lippy, got an attitude, or started asking me to do immoral or impossible things, I'd tell them to go to hell. I didn't need the job, and the hell if I was going to suffer 8 hours a day under a sadistic environment, serving a boss who was delusional, even sadistic him/herself.
I also had self-respect.
Understand the labor market is so flooded with overqualified and overeducated candidates that they are no longer hiring people based on competency or ability. They are so flooded with candidates they can be supremely picky and finicky, making their hiring decisions based on ever-increasingly petty criteria. Because of this the employment environment has become mentally abusive. You need to network, you need to kiss ass, you need to play corporate politics, you need to be a mind reader. Oh, and by the way, you need to do your job too.
The baby boomer generation currently in charge of corporate America are fully aware of this and is why you deal with power hungry, petty, and incompetent bosses. They know you're desperate, they know you have student loans, and they are going to eek every non-financial benefit they can out of you, part of which is deriving a sick and twisted psychological benefit of watching you squirm and just through hoops. Thus the lack of clear, concise leadership. The lack of training ("you have to hit the ground running!"). The petty office political games you get to play. Their demands of having access to your private life (facebook passwords). False and misleading job descriptions. And YOU have to figure out what they want because they "just don't have the time to hold your hand." And if you don't, "well then I guess you're just not a team player."
Thus, along this line, they loooove to play the "you're not a serious adult" card when they see a job hopper. When in reality it's just a young man or woman who has figured out the game and will not tolerate any kind of abuse or corporate BS antics. In short, job hoppers scare them and there really is no shame in being one.
However, eliminating the shame old timers try to foist on job hoppers does not solve the problem job hoppers face - primarily employment.
Even without crushing student loans, mortgages or other debts, you still need to put food on the table, you still have expenses. You still need to work because you still need money. Not to mention it is the world's largest pain in the ass to constantly be applying for jobs. So invariably you would WANT to find a good job and settle down. So how do you find a good, quality, reliable job if your a job hopper?
The solution is ironic, but very simple:
Keep job hopping.
Understand the way jobs and careers are sold to young people today is like that of arranged marriages. You find a job and even if it isn't a perfect fit, heck, outright abusive, you still try your best to make it work. You "must be loyal." You must "give 110%." You must "be a team player." And if you're not, you're a failure.
However, this "arranged marriage model" is wrong. Finding a job and a quality employer should be like dating. You date as many people as possible, with absolutely no intention of committing, until you find a quality courtee worthy of your commitment and effort. You'd be INSANE and STUPID to try to SERIOUSLY DATE EVERY GIRL/GUY you ever dated, so why are you trying to SERIOUSLY DATE every job you have? Forget what the old timers say or try to shame you about "job hopping." SMART people who want to find the ideal job DON'T WASTE THEIR TIME at jobs they don't like. They find out (much like dating) the flaws of their employer.
You name it, just like girls in their young 20's, employers are rife with tons of deal-breakers, problems, baggage, and damaged goods that should deny them your labor and loyalty. And just like it's bad for your health to stay in a bad/abusive relationship so too is it bad for you to stay with an equally bad/abusive employer.
Of course, this solution is not a quick one. I wish I had an easier answer, but the labor market just doesn't work that way. Just like dating, you are going to have to kiss a lot of frogs to find that employer prince. And it may take DECADES of job hopping to find that right one.
But think of the alternative.
Forcing yourself to slave away at a job you hate, working for a boss you want to murder, all while having your brain rot, just so you can be considered "loyal" and get a pension.
Job hopping and all the faux shame that comes with it, might suck, but in the end you will be one of the very few who finds a job they truly love.
Enjoy the decline!