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Talent Talk: The New Normal of Employment

The days of retirement luncheons and gold watches are long gone, so why do we still look at resumes and label candidates as job hoppers?

Paul Sturgeon

October 2, 2023

2 Min Read
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Vincent Besnault/The Image Bank via Getty Images

There was a time in America when the expectations between company and employee were very different from what they are today. Whether those were the “good old days” or not is very much open to debate, but for hiring and HR managers it is not.

The unwritten social contract between companies and their professional employees used to be that the relationship would last until the employee retired. Of course, that often didn’t happen, but that was the intention. Companies would be slower to hire but also slower to let good people go during downturns. Phrases like “last to be hired, first to be fired” entered the lexicon as a necessity in honoring the social contract.

I can remember as a young professional in my hometown of Cincinnati, we would talk about “getting on” with a company, as in, “Did you hear the great news? Jim got on with Milacron!” With the days of retirement luncheons and gold watches long gone, why do we still look at resumes and label candidates as job hoppers?

Here are the cold, hard facts about job changes. The source of data is a Bureau of Labor Statistics study published in 2021. To get actual data, the study was limited to baby boomers born between 1957 and 1964, covering employment from 1978 to 2018. The survey included a cross section of almost 10,000 workers.

The average number of jobs held by that group was 12.4. That equates to a job change every three to four years. That is probably quite a disconnect from what you believe should be the case. And remember, that study was only for people currently 58 to 65 years old, so if you believe the millennials and gen Z are changing jobs more frequently, they are not included in any long-term studies.

If you are hiring and looking at a resume where someone in their mid-thirties has had a few job changes, keep in mind that is normal, and it does not mean that same rate of job changes will continue for the rest of their career.


paul-sturgeon-150.jpgAbout the author

Paul Sturgeon is CEO of KLA Industries, a national search firm specializing in plastics, packaging, and polymer technology. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, a company that is growing, or other ideas for this blog, e-mail Sturgeon at [email protected].

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