Discussion Thread

Up or Out? Why is Job-hopping so prevalent?

  • 1.  Up or Out? Why is Job-hopping so prevalent?

    Posted 04-21-2021 12:14 PM

    As I continue along with my career I am noticing that a lot of my colleagues are switching jobs to get promotions instead of sticking within the same company.

    This made me wonder, why has job-hopping become so common when staying within one company used to be the norm?

    What changed to bring this shift in attitude? What are the pros and cons of each?

    I want to start a discussion to gain some insight as to what other engineers (old, new, still in school) thought about this trend.

    Daniel Bressler EIT, A.M.ASCE
    Structural Engineer
    Brooklyn NY

  • 2.  RE: Up or Out? Why is Job-hopping so prevalent?

    Posted 04-23-2021 03:56 PM

    In my 13 years of experience in this industry I changed jobs several times some to cut down on commute and the others to learn & grow. Every time I had to move I was so hesitant as I was comfortable with the team & the projects I was working for.

    But changing jobs introduced me to new people, taught me how every organization has their own way of doing things & also sharpen up my interview skills every time I had to attend an interview.

    Swapna Konda, P.E

    Swapna Konda P.E., M.ASCE
    Allen TX

  • 3.  RE: Up or Out? Why is Job-hopping so prevalent?

    Posted 04-25-2021 10:29 AM
    I haven't switched job yet but from my perspective, as long as the company fairly reward my contribution and allow me to grow then I'm more likely to stay for a long time.

    Tung Nguyen, PhD
    Water Resources Engineer
    Sacramento, CA

  • 4.  RE: Up or Out? Why is Job-hopping so prevalent?

    Posted 04-26-2021 09:28 AM
    One potential explanation is that the amount of work in an office ebbs and flows. If the amount of work in your current office is at a low point then you are unlikely to be promoted, get a raise, or a bonus that matches your history with the company. On the flip side, any company that is responsive to your inquiries is most likely in a growth stage or gearing up for one, so they are betting on the future instead of staring at today's bottom line.

    Anthony McHugh P.E., M.ASCE
    Bala Cynwyd PA

  • 5.  RE: Up or Out? Why is Job-hopping so prevalent?

    Posted 04-26-2021 09:29 AM

    Great topic for discussion. I've changed jobs a few times for a variety of reasons. In short, what I've seen is that few employers truly want to invest in and grow their own people. Often, they hire a person for a role and typecast the person as *only* being that and nothing more. Then, they look elsewhere for find people to
    fill elevated and new roles. Most would say they don't do this... but they do. If you find a place that truly invests in their people and creates career growth opportunities, consider yourself very lucky. 

    With all that said, I think job hopping for career growth actually works to most people's advantage. It expands professional networks, creates a more diverse experience with different employers, colleagues, etc. While it's often necessary for many to
    achieve growth in proportion to their goals, it's should not necessarily be considered a bad thing. Accept it, enjoy it, and make it work for you. 

    Cliff Jones Ph.D., P.E., S.E., M.ASCE
    Austin TX

  • 6.  RE: Up or Out? Why is Job-hopping so prevalent?

    Posted 04-26-2021 09:46 AM

    I'm only about 6-7 years into my career, but the first 3 I've spent my time working for 3 different firms (including the firm I'm at now). Job #1 I left shortly after 1 year because it wasn't the type of structural work I wanted to do. Job #2 I left shortly after 1 year because of a mix of awful, toxic experiences, not feeling like I was getting the support I needed as a junior engineer, and knowing that financially the company was not doing well. I left this firm about 3 months before they implement layoffs, ask staff to reduce their salaries, and ultimately a large majority of their staff left for other firms. I honestly should have left much earlier than I did.

    I've been at my current firm for almost 4 years because I've gotten the support I've felt I needed, the overall experience & work culture is WAAAAAYYYY better, my salary has doubled since Job #1 (granted I'm now a PE and I've received promotions here). To note, when I accepted the offer from the firm I now work for the salary offer was a 25% increase from job #2 for the same job description in the same city. I have entertained recruiters with job opportunities but none of them I've felt exceeded the value I'm receiving now.

    ​I guess I've never thought of sticking with a job for multiple years as a norm or a trend, or something that has pros & cons. I believe this is the society that has been created based on the opportunities available to us in America if all was fair & equitable. All of the factors that are needed to create and sustain the environment where people want to stay long term have to exist in order for people to stick around. That doesn't mean it's going to be perfect at all times. And even it was perfect, it still wouldn't be enough when life happens.

    Jay Garth P.E.
    Structural Engineer I
    Progressive AE

    EWB: An Engineering Culture Shift
    Grand Rapids, MI

  • 7.  RE: Up or Out? Why is Job-hopping so prevalent?

    Posted 04-26-2021 02:36 PM
    It is my understanding that most people move when they find something they can't get at their existing company, and before such things as retirement plans hamper their future opportunities.

    Tsee Lee S.M.ASCE
    New York NY

  • 8.  RE: Up or Out? Why is Job-hopping so prevalent?

    Posted 04-26-2021 02:50 PM
    Good people leave firms if one or more of the following exists:
    1. Lack of Challenge.

    2. Lack of Recognition, and,

    3. Lack of Opportunity.

    And those who are not able to leave stay.

    Stay Healthy!

    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880

  • 9.  RE: Up or Out? Why is Job-hopping so prevalent?

    Posted 04-27-2021 09:32 AM
    Thanks for posting this topic Daniel. It feels really valuable to be able to have this discussion with people from so many backgrounds. 

    As someone who is usually pretty cautious and willing to put in a fair amount of time and work before admitting something isn't working out, the question of whether it is time to change jobs is one that I always struggle with. 

    On one hand, working in my current role for 6 years has earned me the trust of my managers and the ability to have more freedom to set a schedule that works for me. By nature of sticking around, I am also one of the people who has been with the firm (in my office, anyway) longest, which I have been hinted at will open other opportunities for me "sometime in the future".  However, I am also aware that my patience in one place sacrifices opportunities that I might not have to wait for by simply moving to another job that is specifically looking to employ someone in a different role. I would also need to "start all over" in proving my dependability to a new team. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but imposter syndrome is real, and it is easy to convince oneself that "you lucked out in your current role for x,y,z reasons" and that the next opportunity will call your bluff. 

    If we don't have a topic yet on imposter syndrome in engineering, I'm thinking I might want to start it...

    Anyway, it is really great getting to hear perspectives on "up or out" from so many people in here.

    Christopher Seigel P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer

  • 10.  RE: Up or Out? Why is Job-hopping so prevalent?

    Posted 05-06-2021 05:01 PM
    In my experience, I have seen co-workers leave their employers mainly for 2 reasons: They didn't like the work they were doing, or they wanted a promotion/increased pay in a shorter timeframe.

    I can relate to both of these. Early on in my career I worked for a great agency with great supervisors, and I learned a tremendous amount technically, and how to operate in a high achieving work environment. However, after about 5 years, I hit my "ceiling". The only way for me to advance in my career at that point was if someone in a role I wanted left. Otherwise, it would just be year after year of doing the same role I was currently doing. While I liked my role, I didn't want the next several years of my career to be the same as the year prior. I wanted to keep growing and advance in my career. I talked to my supervisors about it and I made some "pitches" on how I could still advance my career with the agency. When those opportunities didn't materialize, I started looking for employment elsewhere.

    The next job was with an engineering firm that laid out a career plan for me that I was excited about. But after a year of working there, I was doing the same work repetitively, with very little other work, which was not part of the career path we had discussed when I was hired. So I felt that the firm was not holding up its end of our agreement, and I looked for employment elsewhere. This did teach me a lesson that some (not all) firms will promise you the things you are looking for in your career to fill the position, but then drag their feet on following through. If tis not written down or documented, these promises can be just words, with no actions tied to them.

    In a more general sense, I feel that the trend of people moving from job to job is more prevalent now because of a generational shift. More experienced engineers most likely value stability and loyalty more so than engineers early in their careers. This makes sense, as more experienced engineers most likely have a house and a family, where uprooting for a new job wouldn't just affect them but their family as well. Where as engineers early in their career may not have those same limitations, and can more easily switch jobs.

    I also feel that because of technology, like cells phones, that our attention spans are decreasing, leading to more actions for instant gratification. Where before, an engineer who is not happy with their role might think "I need to improve myself as an engineer, which shows I am committed  and qualified to get a promotion". Where today, an engineer may think "I don't like my current role, I will just find a company that has the role I am looking for" (pulls out their cell phone and can do some quick research and may find a better job for them in less than 10 minutes). This is just my opinion, and I don't think either way of thinking is "right" or "wrong". This is just a possible explanation from what I have seen from my experiences.

    Doug Cantrell P.E., M.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Durham NC

  • 11.  RE: Up or Out? Why is Job-hopping so prevalent?

    Posted 09-27-2021 03:52 PM
    When I took my ethics class, I was warned that the median length of time spent in each job was 4.1 years. And now that a couple years have passed, that number could be a little lower now.

    I know my dad has worked at ODOT for decades: as mentioned in an earlier response, the decrease in time spent on each job could be largely generational. He had two sons for nearly that whole time, so moving around wouldn't have just affected him. For this generation, where everyone's hyper-individualistic and aware, there are more visible reasons to keep hopping around for whatever claims to be offering promotions, or the next line of work for a person's career.

    Alexander Granato A.M.ASCE
    Bexley OH