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I’ve reported to and known my manager for one year. He’s probably in his late 50s early 60s. I’m 25. In this year of working together and as standard practice of company culture I’ve networked internally and job shadowed to discover the next role I would like to go after. For the second time now and in a lot more detail, today in our 1x1 my boss told me the following:

I may just be old fashioned and I know you millennials like to move faster than I did in my career and move around more than I do but here’s some advice I want to give you that I’ve learned in my career. Be wary of jumping around to another role as soon as your company policy allows it. You don’t want a manager to toss your resume aside because they see you’ve jumped around so much as fast as possible. They’re looking for someone who’s going stay put for a while. Someone who’s serious.

I have applied to one internal job in the past year. My gut reaction to this was a pretty disappointed one and loss of respect for my boss. I’d like some second opinions on this. I have worked my ass off to get where I’m at. I got an IT job at a fortune 50 company when I was 18 and have been here for 7 years. I’ve had 5 promotions in 7 years because of hard work. I understand there can be negative intent in moving around to jobs to get out of a previous one. I do not do that, I am ambitious and want the best life possible for myself and would like a family one day.

I just took offense to someone saying what I perceive is to slow down as if there’s something wrong with wanting to grow as quickly as possible because I want the best life possible for me and my family.

To clarify, 4 of the roles I've changed to were promotions. The fifth which is my current was a lateral. In the Technical Support organization, yes this is standard company culture, which is why I was surprised by the advice

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10 Answers 10

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I just took offense to someone saying what I perceive is to slow down as if there’s something wrong with wanting to grow as quickly as possible because I want the best life possible for me and my family.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to grow. Nobody ever got looked at funny in a job interview for getting promoted or taking a better job. However, if you changed your job 5 times, even if you started wiping floors, if you had moved upwards every time you'd be regional manager for floor wiping by now and certainly would not ask this question. Your boss said "jumping around" and they might be on to something.

Every hiring manager is looking at your resume/CV. And the more you'll jump around, the more they'll see someone that will only stay with them for a year or so. That might be fine for a role with no training required, like wiping floors, but the more complicated (and better paid) those jobs get, the more training is required and the more money the company will lose if you just quit after a year. If it takes 6 months to be as good as the rest of the team, I won't hire people with a tendency to quit after a year. Why would I?

So I don't know if your boss's advice is self-serving. I think it's both. It's not bad to move upwards, or towards your goal, but you need to have a goal and make sure every move is towards it, not jump around.

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    How long it takes to get good at you are doing, often it takes 1.5 years. Being as good as of the rest of the team is not a good metric, for several reasons. – Rui F Ribeiro Oct 4 '18 at 7:25
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    @JoeStrazzere the latter would likely be better - since they're more accustomed to changing how they work and learning; are more likely to be using the latest technologies; and additionally, more ambitious; which isn't a bad trait. – UKMonkey Oct 4 '18 at 14:33
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    @UKMonkey I don't know. At first, the "1.5-year employee" would be more productive than a "7-year employee" for sure, but there's pretty steep diminishing returns on a learning curve (otherwise it'd be a learning line). Assuming they're equally competent, after a year and a half they should both be about equal in productivity. Knowing you should expect 5.5 more years of that level of productivity is pretty valuable, and I bet plenty of companies would prioritize that over the quick advantage the "1.5-year employee" offers. – Lord Farquaad Oct 4 '18 at 17:17
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    @alephzero What is relevant then, that we get people who can use our administrative tools so that our team looks good in front of my boss or people who are good problem solvers? Rarely you can get both in one employee. You could have a person jumping from place to place solving problems everywhere and a person staying in one spot for 7 years who is an expert on all productivity and administrative tools but has no new ideas on solving problems. I know which one I'd prefer. – mathreadler Oct 4 '18 at 18:09
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    @mathreadler-Many of us have had the misfortune to work with people that have the equivalent of 1 year experience repeated 20 times. If you had then you wouldn't even question how wrong UKMonkey's statement is. – Dunk Oct 4 '18 at 19:33
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I'm not sure if I've understood your question but I will attempt to rephrase this below:

"I'm an ambitious individual which wants to achieve solid results. My boss has indicated that I should perhaps slow down and not jump around so much. Is this advice valid or am I reacting too strongly to being told to slow down?"

I think a loss of respect in this case isn't necessarily warranted. Firstly, let's consider where your boss may be coming from.

You mentioned the manager is advanced in age - around 50's or early 60's. The job climate then was very different as to how it is now. Back then, companies such as big blue (IBM), was very family oriented; It wasn't uncommon for companies to genuinely look after the employees. This was before companies were largely focused on Stock Holder Returns. As such, employees tended to stay put and not move around as much. Your boss was likely part of this era.

At that point in time, if you were constantly jumping around (year after year or so), it indicated more towards management that you either:

A) You don't know what you want in your career beyond a pay rise so you consistently jump around

B) You are not good at your job.

Those were the two main reasons why people changed jobs back then.

Fast Forward to 2018, this is not how things are done now. Companies are far more mercenary in nature, and likewise, employees are the same. Company loyalty is a dead thing for most part.

So your immediate manager gave you advice from that era. This isn't to say it isn't applicable now, but more at a different level. This advice is more useful for leadership positions. In the context of what your boss has indicated, his advice is valid for future long term leadership. With Leadership Positions, results are not quickly created - they take lengthy duration's to be realised (usually).

Now with respect to your question; As an individual which hires technical staff, I can tell you the first thing I look at isn't career duration. What I look for are the result(s) that he/she has achieved. It's a red flag to me if I see they have moved around a lot, but not accomplished much.

So, in short, yes, the advice your boss is applicable at the leadership level, but as you are focused on developing your career, don't interpret it as putting the hand brakes to your career. Rather, think about it from another perspective; My boss is giving me advice that he wants me to take into account, to further steer my career. If I consistently jump around without having achieved solid work results, this has the prospect of reflecting worse on me as I continue in my career. I will take this into account, but continue to work hard and develop myself for both current and future opportunities.

I hope this helps.

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    Actually thinkgs are still not done like that. If you jump around every year it means you never complete a larger project and never carry responsibility. I am not against jumping, but 2-3 years sounds much better than one year or less. I DO look at career positions and recently ignored a resume with lots of 6 months projects -because I am not onboarding a ressource where I immediately have to look for his replacement. – TomTom Oct 4 '18 at 7:27
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    -1 It is a very bold and not necessarily widely supported view that the world suddenly changed and that everything is all different now. It might seem to young people in professions with a lot of demand right now (e.g. developers, other IT) that most companies don't care about job hopping, but that's more related to the high demand for specialists as a fundamental change in culture. No manager wants to go through all the hoops for hiring and training new people every few weeks or months. – Wilbert Oct 4 '18 at 11:30
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    You're right that things have changed some, in that it used to be that you found a company and stayed there for decades or life, and now it's much more acceptable to switch jobs every 5 years or so. But, it still doesn't look good to never stay in a position more than a year. – David K Oct 4 '18 at 12:31
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    "The job climate then was very different as to how it is now." What "then"? The manager is still working. Why would you think a, say, 58-year-old employed person wouldn't be able to understand the current job climate? – Matt Malone Oct 4 '18 at 16:10
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I wouldn't be offended and it's always good to get someones viewpoint on things. But it is your career, you make the choices. What works for some doesn't work for others.

So rather than getting your back up, it's much more constructive to actually ponder the points and see how they fit into or affect your own plans for your future. You're only 25, absolutely no reason to get tied down with anything if you can help it But there are very valid reasons for taking advice seriously and seeing if you can put a shine on it to your advantage.

Basically your manager could have an agenda to benefit himself, and ALSO have valid advice.

  • The upvote was mine, but it was based on the first two paragraphs (before the edit). Taking advice seriously and using it to your advantage is good advice. The edit went a bit weird - especially at the end. – ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere Oct 4 '18 at 7:50
  • @ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere sorry I didn't think anyone would read past the first sentence or so. You can have your upvote back if you want. – Kilisi Oct 4 '18 at 7:52
  • No problem - now I've had a moan in the comments I'm happy to let it ride. – ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere Oct 4 '18 at 8:01
  • @ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere oh heck, I already put my coffee down and re-edited to accomodate your excellent point, too lazy to change it again – Kilisi Oct 4 '18 at 8:18
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    I'd upvote it again on the latest edit - but it looks like someone else has decided they don't like it. – ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere Oct 4 '18 at 8:20
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Being offended or losing respect for your boss feels like a massive overreaction to me. Other than the reference to "Millennials" there's nothing to be offended by in the slightest.

Yes you could say that your boss has a vested interest in you staying but that doesn't preclude him giving you genuine advice - the two aren't mutually exclusive.

On the secondary question of whether frequent moves are an issue for hiring managers, the answer isn't black and white and for me at least depends hugely on the nature of the work you're hiring for and what you consider a short stint in a role - generally for a developer for example I'd consider anything less than 18 months to be notably on the short side 18-24 months to be pretty normal and anything longer than that to be an indicator that the person was likely to be a safe long term bet.

The fact that your job-hopping has happened within the same organisation lessens the impact of it slightly IMO, but not by much if I'm honest.

I've hired for roles where the project life-cycle was on the order of a few weeks to a few months with projects that lasted more than a year being exception rather than the norm then someone who was changing jobs/roles every year or so wouldn't put me off. Although it's worth noting that these tend to be on the junior side and come with commensurately lower pay. If I need someone with higher-tier skills for a shorter period I'll hire a contractor nine times out of ten.

Conversely when I'm looking for someone for projects that measure their life in years or there's a complex codebase (in some companies I've worked it's not unusual for it to take ~3 months for someone to be fully productive) it'd be a hard pass. The disruption and lost productivity of getting new people up to speed just isn't worth it, and that's even before considering the recruitment costs. Similarly if I'm looking to take on someone in a position with more management-type responsibilities, frequent turnover in leadership can be exceptionally disruptive and unsettling to team members and that can have a significant adverse affect on productivity.

Also (and I realize this might be potentially controversial) but I find that it's the aggressive ladder-climbers are far more likely to be the sort of person who works exceptionally hard when it's something that will look good on their CV (like working with the latest shiny technologies) but grumble and drag their feet when it's not. It's still a minority to be sure but still it's enough to be noticeable. It's not that I expect any employee to put the company's needs over their own, I don't do that so I'm not going to expect anyone else to, it's when they expect the company to put the business' needs below the employee's.

  • I would put your last point like this: Aggressive ladder-climbers are not interested in working for my project / department / company / whatever level we are talking about. They are mainly interested in working for themselves - and as such I have no reason to be interested in hiring them. – alephzero Oct 4 '18 at 18:19
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Your manager made a mistake by starting his advice with a little speech about how differently aged people all behave in defined groups. This isn't true, and it's distracting everyone (including a lot of us here) from the advice given.

At its core it's not bad advice - it might not work for you, but it's something to consider. If future employers (or potential employers) think this way, you'll be at a disadvantage unless you can show that you understand the position - just as someone who couldn't see the value of changing jobs when it made sense would be at a disadvantage with future employers who valued rapid change of roles.

I don't think it's self serving - at worst it serves the company and the department, which is what managers are supposed to do.

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    I agree. I don't think the intention was to be self-serving. Unfortunately it's common to pick on millennials (although no one has any control over when they were born). And often the sentiments toward millennials are simply incorrect. I would just choose to take the high road by ignoring the unnecessary dig, but at least keep in mind the core message as it might actually contain some valuable wisdom. – Ben Harrison Oct 4 '18 at 19:27
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You want to grow in his career and his advice (at least in his mind) serves exactly that (i.e your own ambitions). All he is doing is warning you that your resume may be set aside because you are changing too often and as a result your growth potential is compromised. He is not saying your ambition of growth is misplaced and you should not grow or not provide for your family. He is just proposing a way to achieve your goals (or more specifically a way to NOT miss them).

Also, your struggle growing up and your ambitions may not be evident on your resume but the fact that you changed jobs several times will be very evident. Your resume will be judged on what is evident. Considering this, his advice deserves some consideration and certainly not "loss of respect" for him. Whether he is right or wrong or whether you should follow it or not, is your call to take. That is how advices work!

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This is an internal position. As such, there is extreme politics involved.

1) Does your boss have a good rapport with the potential new manager who you will be under?

2) Does your new boss have a vendetta against your current boss?

3) You have "applied" for an internal position? You sent a resume to HR board vs you have spoken with the new manager and team you will be working with?

None of "jumping around" matters for internal positions. However, it would be best to look at this from your manager's position. How would your move be good for your manager? Any way that you could bring him to your view would be best. Allies and friends are a requirement in internal politics, have you been building your network?

  • at some point in a career OP might want to change companies, that is when it would raise flags for some employers... realistically if his five moves have been upwards he'd be a top executive right now. It could look like he's being shuffled around because he can't fit anywhere, and a years worth of experience in a role isn't worth much. – Kilisi Oct 5 '18 at 9:09
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Be wary of jumping around to another role as soon as your company policy allows it. You don’t want a manager to toss your resume aside because they see you’ve jumped around so much as fast as possible.

That sounds like solid advice from your boss. Lateral moves are generally okay depending on the industry so long as you're consistent. For example, you might like to join a startup as a developer but as soon as you built the product up, you might not like to be in maintenance mode and instead feel like learning new skills within the same role by moving to a new startup.

You should have a career goal in mind so that when you are interviewed, you can explain it and the company knows it. Otherwise just having constant lateral moves might mean you're frustrated at your job and just want to quit when it doesn't work for you.

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As someone in the IT industry where 'job hopping' is a very common occurrence:

There is a strong element of truth to what your boss has said. Excessive job-hopping does indeed make you look extremely skittish, and that's never a great thing for productivity. The end result is that with a lot of short term hops under your belt, you become a jack of all trades and master of none, which isn't a great deal of use to the company.

With that said, the job-for-life thing rarely happens here and there are benefits to jumping ship every couple of years, most notably pay but also experiences too; working in an internal security team can be very different depending on what kind of organisation it is you work for and all of them are different to working for a dedicated security company. The same can be true of many IT fields, and quite possibly many other fields outside of IT.

If this is a reason that you consider job-hopping, have a good think about the experiences that you want and whether the move you have in mind is likely to help with that.

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This is the old "don't jump a lot" myth. Jumping around a lot is a perfectly fine, modern thing to do. No one who is going to hire you (these days) will care unless it's not always directly up or you don't have a solid grasp on why you moved and how it helped your career.

Don't listen unless the person hiring you next will be someone of similar stature.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – enderland Oct 4 '18 at 15:21

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