Now don’t get me wrong, there’s no shortage of “spin” involved in modern job hunting. Almost every professional in transition has some sort of weakness or vulnerability that they need to try and put a pretty face on during the interview process. People without college degrees can claim that they come from “the school of hard knocks” or offer “hands-on” experience. Folks trying to break into a new industry can insist that they won’t have to “unlearn bad habits” and that they’ll bring “fresh ideas” to the new field. And individuals who have been out of work for a number of months can try to promote the notion that they’ve “recharged their batteries” and are ready to hit the ground running harder than anybody else, if offered a new role.
I’ll confess, though, even I have a hard time swallowing the notion that a job hopper (i.e. somebody who has held multiple jobs in succession for less than a year or two) is a better employee than a more “stable” employee because they 1) are forced to learn more things, more quickly, than other employees; 2) will inevitably deliver more value during a shorter period of time; and 3) are more emotionally mature because of their willingness to push themselves bravely onward to challenging new assignments. And yet, these are exactly the arguments that notorious national career blogger Penelope Trunk (The Brazen Careerist) makes here in one of her recent postings.
Having followed Penelope for years, I greatly respect her ability to view things from unusual angles, as well as her ability to stir up controversy for the sake of building blog traffic and brand recognition. And yet, despite her impassioned words, I’m not fully convinced that even SHE would pass a lie detector test on this one — and that she truly believes, deep down, that job hoppers are by definition better and more valuable employees to recruit into one’s organization than other employees, all else being equal. If you read through the colorful string of comments after her posting, too, you’ll see I’m not alone in this opinion. And yet, there are also plenty of folks who also have written in to agree and defend her unconventional point of view. Definitely makes for some good reading!
So as always, there’s no harm in vigorous debate, and it pays to be vigilant about these kinds of things because true “paradigm changes” definitely sneak up on us — and always seem to fly in the face of conventional wisdom, until the one day they BECOME the conventional wisdom. This time around, though, I’m having a hard time buying it. Constant voluntary job change is definitely NOT a virtue I’d be seeking out in candidates, if I were in a hiring role. Your thoughts?