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Job-hopping, the “Great Resignation,” and the Search for Meaningful Work

August 12, 2022

Assistant Professor Christopher Lake Featured on BBC’s WorkLife Series
Chris Lake Assistant Professor Chris Lake

A history of changing jobs too often is usually viewed as a red flag by prospective employers, but in today’s competitive job market, many businesses are willing to take a chance on hiring someone even though they may not stay put for the long term. Christopher Lake, assistant professor of management, conducts research on job-hopping and consults with businesses to improve employee retention.

He recently discussed job-hopping, the “Great Resignation,” and the search for meaningful work with BBC journalist Alex Christian for a segment in the BBC’s WorkLife series.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, employers have reported a large number of employees quitting their jobs to seek out work that is more flexible, more rewarding, and less stressful. This trend - dubbed the Great Resignation - has resulted in businesses in Alaska, the United States, and around the world scrambling to find qualified workers and fill job openings. Several employment sectors have reported a record number of unfilled jobs. Even when jobs are filled, employees often do not stay put for long.

Although the Great Resignation may put businesses in a bind, it may be an excellent opportunity for many people to change jobs in a favorable job market. “Strategic advancement-oriented job-hopping can be a highly effective in times like the Great Resignation,” Lake said. “However, as few as two short-term jobs on a resume can result in hiring managers developing negative perceptions about job applicants. When the pandemic-fueled Great Resignation is over, people who job-hop too much may once again find it difficult to find future employment.”

Lake has analyzed motives for job-hopping, as detailed in a 2018 paper published in the Journal of Career Assessment. Some workers change jobs strategically to advance their career goals, which can result in promotions, salary increases, and new skills. Other seem to do so in a more emotional or haphazard manner, frequently changing jobs to escape conflict, pressure, or other stressors. The latter may result in more lateral job changes, which are less likely to benefit workers in the long run.

What motivates you to change jobs? Find out in a short online survey at Lake’s research website.

Read more

The Case for Job-Hopping, BBC Worklife, July 2022
Validation of the Job-Hopping Motives Scale, Christopher J. Lake, Scott Highhouse, and Alison G. Shrift, Journal of Career Assessment, 2018