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Why job hopping doesn’t always pay

By Nigel Heap, Regional Managing Director, Hays

Millennials have been described as the job hopping generation, we are hearing more about portfolio careers and job tenure appears to be reducing. Job loyalty appears to be completely off trend and people are encouraged to work in different companies and in different roles. Yet, I recently celebrated 30 years working at Hays and believe that loyalty pays. Staying with one employer – or indeed a small handful – can actually help your career, not harm it.


“I recently celebrated 30 years working at Hays and believe that loyalty pays.”


What does it mean to be with a company for 30 years?

I’ve been lucky to work for a company that has changed dramatically over the course of my career. We’ve grown together and I’ve enjoyed exploring new roles, sectors, and countries. I started my career as a trainee recruitment consultant in the north west of England and throughout my career I’ve worked in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, China, Japan and all over Europe. Relocating for new roles and opportunities has had a huge impact on my career. Hays has offices in 33 countries and not only have I worked in or visited most of them at some point in my career but in my current role I’m now responsible for a fair few of them.

Why is long tenure at a company unpopular amongst millennials?

Many millennials mistakenly believe that pay rises only come with a new company and that job satisfaction is their employers’ responsibility. In fact, both of these often come with a new role, or a promotion, which could be when you change companies, but equally it could be achieved within the same company. Some workers may be jumping ship to find more pay and more fulfilling opportunities only to eventually meet the same disappointment.


“Some workers may be jumping ship to find more pay and more fulfilling opportunities only to eventually meet the same disappointment.”


Younger generations are looking for a varied career and are more likely to pursue portfolio careers where they have a number of flexible roles, but that’s not to say one employer can’t offer the same. However, these opportunities rarely present themselves. You have to have a clear career path in mind, keep updating your skills and be open to new opportunities.

In our research, seeking a new challenge is often cited as the reason for looking for a new job. But, are these people being open with their employers about what they are looking for from their career and being proactive in setting out how why it makes sense for their employer too? There have been times in my career when obvious career paths have been blocked so I’ve either taken a slightly different path or I’ve used the time to upskill. Being prepared to take a step back or a sideways step might open up even more opportunities down the line.

How can you get the most from staying with one employer?

You have to continually reinvent yourself and take charge of your own career. It can be easy for some companies to overlook their own talent so you need to make sure you stay front of mind. Look at where the company is heading and make sure your skills and indeed mind-set keep up with the changes. Some people rest on their laurels if they’ve been with a company a long time, struggle to adapt to the changes and haven’t invested in their skills to make sure they can still add value. Nobody wants to be faced with “that’s not how we do it here” or “we tried that years ago”. Keep your skills and outlook fresh.

5 tips for getting the most from one company

1. Don’t be afraid to ask. If you are looking for a new challenge, speak to your manager. The likelihood is that they will be impressed and want to support your ambition. If they don’t know what you are hoping for they can’t support it.

2. Consider relocating. The skills you’ll learn from living and working in another country are invaluable. Perhaps the offices are bigger overseas or the market is more advanced or challenging. Living overseas will help build your resilience and agility, which will always stand you in good stead for a promotion.

3. Keep your skills up-to-date. Make sure you stay up-to-date with the latest research, news and initiatives for your profession. This will help you to keep on top of new developments and importantly, take them back to your company.

4. Don’t get complacent. Stay flexible about where your next role will be and agile in your approach to your career. Don’t sit back and expect people to offer you a new role or a promotion.

5. Reinvent yourself. Continually assess and refresh your personal brand. Don’t be afraid to take on new challenges and up-skill in a new area. Your knowledge of the company is indispensable and your cultural fit with a company will give you a natural advantage, no matter what the role.

Staying with one employer for a long time won’t be for everyone and some companies just can’t facilitate the career progression. But, if the opportunities are there, make sure you continually refresh your skills and your plans to keep the promotions coming. Think before you write off your current employer - they might just hold the keys to your career satisfaction and you’ll be celebrating 30 years before you know it.

For more information or to discuss your employment needs, please contact your local office.

About this author

Nigel is Regional Managing Director for Hays UK & Ireland and EMEA, and Chairman of Asia Pacific. He joined Hays UK in 1988 as a trainee consultant. By 1997, he was Managing Director of Hays Australia, and consequently expanded operations to New Zealand, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia. In 2006, he was appointed Managing Director of Asia Pacific. He became UK & Ireland Managing Director and Chairman of the Asia Pacific business in 2012. In 2018 Nigel was appointed Regional Managing Director for Hays UK & Ireland and EMEA, and retains his position as Chairman of Asia Pacific.

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