Sunday, April 25, 2010

Is job hopping good or bad ??

Refer today’s Sunday times interview two extremes working personnel, one stayed with one company for 38years and another seven jobs in 5 years.

Same company for 38 years - Mr Daniel Goh can still recall what he and his peers were looking for in a job, when he applied for his first job with Garuda Airlines in 1972 at the age of 21.  'During our time, it was all about getting a job first, then you look at the salary base, and third was the industry that you wanted to work in,' says Mr Goh, who is married with two children.

He adds: 'In those days, if we managed to get a job at the age of 21, it was something very grand, especially if you were working for an airline.' After 15 years as an airport officer and 23 in the sales department, he has no regrets about staying with his first and only employer.

He says: 'Garuda is like a family - we know the culture and the way they do things, and most importantly, we work as a team. There is no reason for me to ever think of leaving the company.'

Seven jobs in five years - For Ms Jamie Kong, the last five years have been 'a very long learning process' in feeding her 'hunger for learning and self-satisfaction'. From two spells as a Japanese-English translator to two working stints in Japan, and trying her hand at setting up a small F&B stall, she has held a total of seven jobs in her 51/2 years in the workforce.

'It has all been about self-discovery and giving myself what I needed at that stage of life,' says Ms Kong, who now works in the planning department of a Japanese F&B company.  After six months in her first job as a translator, she took up a six-month job with the Singapore Tourism Board at the World Expo in Japan in 2005. Upon her return, she resumed her former job as a translator at her old workplace where she was 'very well taken care of'. However, after two years, she felt she had 'stagnated'.

She says: 'We have been told from young to get a good job with stable pay, which was what I got there, but I felt it was not challenging enough in the long term.'  So she went back to Japan on a year-long exchange programme to teach English.  She recalls: 'It was just for the experience and living and working in Japan, which I had always wanted to do, to experience life and get paid as well. I had always planned to stay for just a year.'

After that, she came back to Singapore to work for a Japanese F&B company. She left after seven months, as it was 'not a healthy work environment'.  She feels she has found the right environment in her current job. She has also found a passion for the industry, which combines her love of food with her interest in Japanese culture.  While she cannot imagine herself in the same job for 20 years, she can certainly conceive of staying with a company for 20 years.

She says: 'You need a job that you can identify with. As long as you are given room to grow and progress, you can stay in a place for the long term. But if you do not grow in life experiences, you do not grow.'

Me, I started 1980 after completed 2 years full time national service as an infantry man, landed first job 7 seven years in Natco ( American Oil and Gas Process company, now no more existence in Singapore but in US, UK, Second job of 7 years landed in a Japanese owned company ( and these Japanese bosses ( Mr Konishi, retired, Mr Hiraoka took over the helm now ) have been PR in Singapore for more than 20 years and already blended their culture with locals. Typical Japanese working lifestyle that you see in Japan, long hours carried on with a lot of smoke ( not really, these bunch are the health conscious lot ). Golf is the other part of their life.
Most likely my last work place before retirement, presently with KeppelFELS (, Offshore rig designer and builder ( key solution provider ) joined 1994 and I would say it is a great place with the greatest achievement in my working career, a lot had to be said later. Probably start a memoir, if anyone care to read, not really perhaps..... :)

People in their 20s probably tend to change job quite often than those when reaching mid 30s, late 40s. So if you think job-hopping is good or bad?? . Job hoppers are deemed quitters and generally they feel more satisfied with their work life after hopping from one to another work place but not all feel the same.

Would Job hoppers have more rewarding careers.

In almost any job, the learning curve is very steep early on. And then it goes flat. So by the end of two years at the same job, you often have little left to learn if you work in administrative kind instead of those relating to technology or engineering where there are a lot of hands-on application and thinking process. It just make one wonder what people are doing to keep their brains alive if they stay at the same job for 20 years especially those mundane kind that do not need to squeeze out your brain juice. It could leave some uncertainty that job hoppers may know more.

If you change jobs often, then you’re facing with different kind environment and are you sure you get to learn — your learning curve has to move with new job description, i.e. if you are given to experience new things. This may not be true for office skills unless those engineering specific knowledge. It also applies to your emotional intelligence. The more you have to navigate organization hierarchies and deal with office dramas, the more you learn about people and the better you will become at making people comfortable while you encounter with them. And that’s a great skill to have but you may or may not get your learning interrupted if you start hopping to new place as you could end up repeating similar task or worst still the new company is not advancing faster than your previous place.

The stability you get in your career comes from yourself. If you’re counting on some company to give you stability, realizing this could be at times ending up not to your expectation. But if you believe in yourself and your abilities and treat your career with this understanding, then it’s no problem. You can create career stability — you just have to do it on your own capability. Do no “apple-polishing” as this will not bring you any further in your career.

If one day you are planning greener pastures, you’re going to be very conscious of your resume — that is, what skills you’re tackling, what you’re achieving, whether you’re becoming a so-call “expert” in your field. These issues do not generally concern someone who has been in a job for five years or more and knows he’s going to stay another five years or so. So job hoppers have to strive harder and do doubly well at work, if for no other reason than it helps their impressive resume secure their next lucrative job.

Job hoppers could end up overachievers on work activity they are involved in; they want something good to put on their resume. Though some companies could benefit from having a strong performer for 2 years than a mediocre employee for 20 years who has stayed stagnant.

Loyalty is caring about the people you’re with. Job hoppers don’t identify with a company’s long-term performance, they identify with their work group’s short-term performance. Job hoppers want their boss to adore them so they get a good reference. Job hoppers want to bond with their co-workers so they can all help each other get jobs later on. And job hoppers want to make sure everyone who comes into contact with them has experience to bring along with them; it’s not like they have ten years on the job to fix a first impression.

It takes a good deal of self-knowledge to know what you want to do next, and to choose to go get it rather than stay someplace that for the moment seems secured. It takes commitment to personal growth to give up career complacency and embrace a challenging learning curve throughout your career — over and over. And it’s a brave person who can tell someone, “I know I’ve only been working here for few months, but I think it does not suits me”

Doubtless you’ll hear that you should stick it out, show some loyalty, give it at least a few years. But why should you take time out of your life to spend your days doing something you know is not right for you? When is the right time to move on ? Is there a good opportunity and are you going to fit in ? What consequence if you leave your present company ? What opportunity cost you are losing out ?

No career is interesting if it’s not engaging and challenging, and your most important job is to find that right organization. Do not settle for outdated workplace models that accept complacency and downplay self-knowledge. Sure, the job market is tough nowadays - but that’s no reason to settle for something mediocre and no challenge at all. Without challenges, you just stayed on with no progress and this is not the path on the last day of your retirement when you turn back and say, “what did I do or learn in life?”

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