Gen Zers are rebelling against their parents and striking fear into corporate America by publicly quitting
Aleigha, 25, has switched jobs every year and a half since graduating in 2019.
In three years, her salary has roughly doubled, from about $62,000 to $130,000.
Aleigha (who asked not to share her last name due to privacy reasons) started off her career in an actuarial position at Geico. Moving jobs has paid off for her, as she ended up working a data scientist position for a small government contractor. But would she have gotten the same increase if she hadn’t quit so many jobs?
Aleigha said she was shocked that as soon as she updated her LinkedIn profile, messages from recruiters came flooding in about positions with a huge bump in pay.
“I was getting job offers for $110,000, $150,000, [and] $120,000, which blew my mind. I was like, ‘I can be 24, making six figures,’ which is something that I did not think that I would achieve growing up because I grew up in a lower-income household.”
As the pandemic-era Great Resignation continues, Gen Z and young millennial workers are job-hopping—leaving roles after a short amount of time for others that are higher-paying, have more opportunities for advancement, and are more in line with their interests. Along the way, they’re climbing the career ladder, proving their parents’ advice wrong—and really freaking out employers who find themselves in a war for talent.
According to data provided by LinkedIn in 2022, the share of U.S. LinkedIn users changing jobs was up 37.6% since 2021 and 29.6% since 2019. Gen Zers had shifted careers the most since 2021, with a 59.6% increase in job-hopping. Millennials came next at 34.8%, Gen X at 26.5%, and boomers last at 7.4%.
This trend shows no signs of letting up anytime soon, as LinkedIn’s survey of 21,367 professionals from December 2021 to January 2022 showed that more employees intend to quit their jobs within the next six months. Once again, Gen Z and millennials lead the way, with 25% of Gen Z workers indicating they plan to switch jobs soon and 23% of millennials saying they hope to change employers shortly.
Job-hopping to a higher salary
Aleigha is one of several members of her generation who told Fortune that the calculus from her parents’ generation no longer applies.
“A big reason why my father did not want me to move jobs was because of job security,” she says. “That was huge for our parents, which kind of got instilled into our brains a little bit, because they went through so many different types of recessions.” But she points out that the benefits from those days, like pensions, largely don’t exist anymore.
Hannah Williams, 25, knew that staying loyal to a company that paid her $40,000 would not help her pay off student loans or let her ever buy a house, living in Washington, D.C., one of America’s priciest cities. She now makes $115,000, having job-hopped to the position of data analyst.
“We all saw what happened over the pandemic, where millions of people lost their jobs. Some people were treated like they were essential, but not well supported. I think we’re just tired and angry and finally taking things into our own hands,” says Williams.
With so many employees quitting, CEOs are finally waking up to the fact that workers won’t stick around if they’re not treated right. A recent survey of executives and board members found that leaders ranked succession and retaining employees as the second-biggest business risk. The previous year, they ranked the same issue at No. 8.
People are talking about pay on TikTok
Talking about pay can be uncomfortable. But Gen Z and millennial workers are no longer afraid to have awkward conversations if that means getting paid what they’re worth.
If these conversations can’t happen in the office, they are certainly happening online. While coworkers can give more specific insight than strangers might, there is value in the new trend of talking about pay on social media. In sharing their career paths with their TikTok audience, Aleigha and Williams have joined the movement of creators pushing back against corporations that have stigmatized discussions of pay and benefits.
Creators like Aleigha (@pondstfinancial) and Williams (@stocksandsquats) have found that their viral videos create a ripple effect of empowerment. Their comment sections are full of people also disclosing their salaries or sharing their stories of quitting their jobs after watching videos on job-hopping.
Since job-hopping is often controversial, these creators have also received comments from hiring managers saying that they would never hire job-hoppers in their field. But in the cases of tech and government contracting, some job-hoppers don’t even need to actively look for new jobs and are being pursued by recruiters with enticing offers.
Hiring managers that look down at job-hoppers run the risk of ignoring a pool of valuable candidates, especially during the Great Resignation.
“We shouldn’t look at job-hoppers as the problem or that they’re a negative thing for a company,” Williams says. “Maybe it wouldn’t be a problem if companies took better care of their employees, and paid them competitive salaries, and gave them the support that they need in the form of remote work and good benefits.”
Job-hoppers are leaving for better opportunities
Gen Z workers aren’t just looking for better pay. They are demanding jobs that give them a chance to do something they’re passionate about. Eighty percent of Gen Z job-hoppers said they want to leave their job to find a career that aligns more with their interests, and 76% say they’re quitting for the opportunity to gain more experience.
In comparison, only 59% of millennials want to quit their jobs to find a mission-based organization, and 55% hope to leave to get more skills. This makes sense, given Gen Z employees have more flexibility and are earlier in their careers. Both Williams and Aleigha said they realized during college that they were interested in pursuing a different path.
“A lot of my issues with job-hopping was that I felt a lot of pressure to succeed and be happy and feel like I found my path before I even started working. That’s unnatural. You’re not gonna know what you want to do when you’re 18,” says Williams.
Quitting used to be seen as a last-ditch resort for workers who were being treated badly. Now, younger employees are leaving because they are slightly dissatisfied or don’t see a future with their company.
Aleigha posits that younger generations know their worth better. They don’t need to grin and bear it in toxic work environments. They can quit with the comfort of knowing that companies are scrambling to hire. Even employees in arguably healthy workplaces can expect more from their company if they’re bored or uninspired at work.
“If somebody feels like they’re comfortable at their job, they feel like they’re good at it, they know all the people, and they’re scared to leave. I would encourage [those] people to push through that fear. Because I did and I’m making $50,000 more a year,” Aleigha says.
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