How to Stand Out as a Career Nomad

Employment trends have changed drastically over the past several decades. While workers in the 1950s and 1960s often stayed at the same company for their entire careers, job-hopping has become the norm today.

A 2018 study conducted by the job website LiveCareer found that the average amount of time an individual spends with an employer drops with each generation:

  • Baby boomers average 8 years with an employer
  • Generation X: 5.4 years
  • Millennials: 2.4 years
  • Generation Z: 1.2 years

With job-hopping on the rise, it’s crucial for career nomads to learn how to brand themselves to employers as desirable candidates.

Why Younger Generations Job Hop

A 2019 study by the online career platform The Muse found that 58% of millennial respondents planned to change jobs that year. The most common reasons that younger generations switch jobs, according to the study, involved better work-life balance, improved growth opportunities, and increased learning opportunities.

In an interview with CNBC, The Muse co-founder and CEO Kathryn Minshew said the study’s findings “blows up some of the traditional wisdom that it’s all about compensation.” Other reasons that millennial and Gen Z workers change jobs include the following:

To Seek:

  • Better compensation, including flextime and paid time off (PTO)
  • Career advancement
  • Improved work schedule
  • Remote job opportunity
  • More interesting work
  • Better company culture
  • A renewed sense of purpose
  • High-quality management

To Avoid:

  • Boredom
  • Feeling overworked
  • Lack of growth opportunities
  • A negative work environment
  • Feeling “stuck” or underutilized
  • Lack of recognition for contributions and accomplishments

Benefits of Changing Jobs

The LiveCareer study also found that a worker’s average tenure with a company typically decreases if they have a higher level of education. High school graduates average 4.4 years per job, while workers with a bachelor’s degree average 3.3 years per job. Regardless of education, some of the benefits of changing jobs include the opportunity to learn new things, earn more money, network and build new professional relationships, and learn how to adapt to new environments.

Build Your Network

The more companies an individual works for, the more colleagues they meet. People who switch jobs have a greater opportunity to freely build their professional reputations. Staying with one company for an extended period may also lead an individual to focus on the organization’s internal goals at the expense of their own, which can limit networking opportunities.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

People who stay with a company for an extended time tend to settle into their workload, and in some cases can start to feel like robots. Changing jobs and moving to a new company can help people challenge themselves and rise to new heights.

Develop New Skills

A change in jobs can help workers adapt and learn new professional skills, as different companies have different structures, routines, and processes. For example, professionals who shift from working independently to a team-oriented environment can improve their leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills.

How to Market Yourself to Hiring Managers

In the past, job-hopping had a negative stigma, and resumes that showed frequent job changes were a red flag for hiring managers. Today, this view has started to shift. While hiring managers may retain concerns about the impact of turnover on productivity and company culture, they are also increasingly looking for ways to attract and retain job-hoppers.

If you’ve worked for a number of companies in your career, there are several ways to stand out to hiring managers.

  • Focus on Your Mission Statement: In your resume, define your career goals and explain why you’re a strong candidate for a For example, “I have five years of experience in the field and am seeking a managerial role.” Be sure to highlight relevant experience.
  • Write Your Resume in Years, Not Months: Omitting the number of months you were with an employer can streamline your resume and prevent hiring managers from immediately taking note of short-term positions.
  • Be Honest About Why You Left: If you were in a position for a short period of time, add a sentence about why you left. Did you switch jobs due to a move? Did your prior company undergo corporate restructuring? Were you looking for career growth?
  • Discuss What You Learned and Accomplished at Each Position: It’s OK to brag about your accomplishments. Did your leadership contribute to increased sales? Did your contribution on a project help the company improve efficiency and streamline processes? Don’t forget to list specialized training or new skills that you acquired in prior roles.
  • Advance Your Skills: Upskilling and reskilling with a degree or professional certificate, or by joining a professional organization, can make you more attractive to hiring managers. Professionals interested in advancing to managerial positions will find that an advanced degree, or an alternative degree if shifting career paths, can help them reach their goals.

Looking Ahead to the Future

While job-hopping may have been frowned upon in the past, today it has become the norm. Applicants who frequently switch jobs are no longer viewed negatively, but as top performers. They’re considered confident, comfortable with taking risks, and accustomed to an accelerated learning curve — all traits that companies value in their employees.

Are you interested in learning how the right education can help you advance or shift your career? Discover how Maryville University’s online bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degree programs can help prepare you for the job you want.

Recommended Reading

Know Your Worth: How to Negotiate — or Renegotiate — Your Salary

Year in Review: The Power of Self-Reflection

You Belong in the Room — Exploring Impostor Syndrome from a Black Perspective


Business News Daily, “Millennials Say Job-Hopping Helps Their Careers”

Business Insider, “7 Reasons to Change Jobs, even if You Don’t Want To”

CNBC, “58% of young workers plan to change jobs this year to get more of this — and it’s not compensation”

Entrepreneur, “Why Millennials Change Jobs So Often”

HireWell, “How the Dynamics of Job Hopping Have Changed in 2020”

The Job Network, “What a New Report Reveals About Job Hopping Across Generations”

LiveCareer, 2018 Job Hopping Report

NBC News, “Job-Hopping Is On the Rise. Should You Consider Switching Roles to Make More Money?

Oliver Parks, “Why Successful People Switch Jobs More Often”

Vantage Circle, “The Current Job-Hopping Scenario — A Complete Explanation”

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