The media loves to run trend pieces about how millennials are allegedly worse than other generations in some respect. According to these articles, millennials change jobs more often and are less loyal to employers than people in other generations. Writers present a past filled with workers who dutifully stayed at the same job for 30 years and then negatively discuss millennials who not only job hop, but refuse to walk miles each way uphill for their respective employers.
These articles are mainly lazy garbage, but at this blog, we love to debunk garbage!
The Facts about Job Changes
Contrary to popular myth, people have longer tenures with companies than in the past. At 4.6 years, job tenure in 2012 (the last year for statistics) is actually longer than it was in 1983. Longevity on the job increased across age groups in the aftermath of the recent recession.
Another notable fact is that relatively frequent job changes are commonplace for young workers. A Bureau of Labor Statistics study found that later Baby Boomers (born between 1957 and 1964) held an average of 11.3 jobs by age 46. Job changes appear normal for young workers in general, not millennials in particular.
Changes Make Financial and Career Sense
Modest income growth has been the norm in recent years. Raises only averaged 3% in 2013 and 2014. If a person negotiates a raise of 5% or more at a new position, that individual just noticeably increased his or her take home pay. This fact provides an incentive for people to change jobs.
Millennials in particular need to consider job changes in order to improve their financial situations. It takes millennials 4 years longer to reach the median income for the country than it did their older baby boomer counterparts. The weight of slow income growth is an actual trend, not an exaggeration, and people need to be aware of and react to in their best interests.
Another rarely discussed fact is that people are not rewarded for a long tenure if they have to go out in the job market again. New employers simply do not view it as a good sign. They might wonder if the applicant became complacent career-wise and failed to keep his or her skills up-to-date. If a person fails to achieve a promotion after four years with any employer, it is a good idea to push for one or look for more lucrative opportunities elsewhere.
People Responding to the Job Market
While journalists point to the small percentage of people with long careers at one employer, the facts indicate that those folks were always an anomaly. Most people did not experience stints of 30+ years at a single company. People changing jobs numerous times, particularly when they are under 46, is the long-term norm, not a new trend.
All of this information points to a conclusion that millennials are assessing their work situations and making changes like their predecessors. If anything, people today are perhaps too loyal and need to consider more changes to combat slow income growth. Millennials need to ignore stories that amount to little more than “kids these days” and take a hard, objective look at how to grow their incomes in such a challenging environment. A job change is likely the sensible solution.