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
Sent: 04-21-2021 11:53 AM
From: Daniel Bressler
Subject: Up or Out? Why is Job-hopping so prevalent?
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