How agency millennials view the ‘job-hopping crisis’

This is Ask a Millennial, where we ask our focus group of under-30 agency and brand employees one question, and trade anonymity for candor.

One of the biggest differences between millennials and their older Gen X counterparts (and bosses) is that millennials don’t think of their careers in the same way. As Kristen Cavallo, president of Mullen put it at the Digiday Agency Summit, their career paths often resemble a scattered “jungle gym” rather than a linear garden path. Turnover rates, as a result, are often the No. 1 cause of concern at agencies. Many agencies report churn rates as high as 50 percent.

We asked our millennial focus group what they thought about job hopping. Excerpts: 

Male, 25, strategy. Recently quit after less than six months at a company.
Giving a job to someone is investing in another person. If a person shows that they can’t stay put in one place for a while, why would anyone want to make an investment in them? But we’re young, and we need to explore our options now. I’d rather have hiccups in my resume when I’m 25 than when I’m in my 30s or later because it will be easier to tell the story of being young and trying to figure out what and where I wanted to be. In our industry, it’s all about “storytelling” anyways, so why not craft your own now?

Male, 27, creative. Five jobs in four years.
I have definitely moved around too much, but I’ve also made sure to hit the ground running at every place I’ve landed. Less ramp-up time means the agency’s not wasting money developing me. At the same time, I have been looking for a “home” this entire time. Now here’s what I have to say to people who have never hopped jobs: Do you really think the first or second place you landed is the best place you could be? Unlikely. Moving around teaches you what you really want for your career. You may be moderately content now, but you need to experience highs and lows elsewhere. If you haven’t “sampled” enough shops, you’re going through it all blindly. The risk is worth it, so buck up and get out.

Female, 24, strategy. In her first job.
My parents can probably count the companies they have worked for on one hand — total. This background makes me more prone to wanting to grow within an agency than chase the next opportunity every six months. Although I think it degrades agency culture to a degree, I understand the appeal of job hopping given how hard it is to actually move up (and be compensated accordingly). Instead of bracing for job hopping (which is inevitable), agencies should place more effort on creating an environment that gives their young employees opportunities that they can’t get anywhere else. Otherwise, moving onto a bigger name with a bigger check will obviously be more appealing and rewarding.

Female, 26, account.
I have not job-hopped. I like to feel comfortable and build a foundation before I leave. I’ve had two jobs in the past three years and three jobs in the past four years. Agencies should beware of job hoppers. It’s pretty common in the agency world for someone to stay at a job for one or two years then leave; it’s expected. It also says a lot for those that stay longer and shows that they are invested. I see it as a good thing if I see employees of a company there for at least three or more years. At my current company, there are people that have been here for five to 10 years.

Male, 24, digital strategist.
I’m personally not a fan of job hopping for full-time roles because it shows a lack of commitment to a company. Strong character is just as important as talent in a creative-driven industry. I worked at my last job for about eight months but was laid off following a company restructure. I’ve been at my current job for one year. Agencies can be very transient places — it really depends on the needs of the team.

Female, 27, creative. 
People who stay put in one place for too long are spineless losers afraid of change.

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