Jack of All Trades…

Is pretty damned awesome

Because it’s come up a few times on LinkedIn, I wanted to talk a bit about “job-hopping.” You know that awful thing people do where they don’t work at a job “long enough” and something, something, it’s a bad idea to hire you.

I don’t know why this bullshit persists…

Okay, I do know, and it’s stupid. It’s a holdover beloved by boomers from the days when you worked for one company your whole life. Boomers love that shit. “Loyalty”…man, they go on about loyalty and how no one is loyal anymore. You know who’s really not loyal?

Companies

Yeah, none of these jerks want to talk about that. About how the days when you got regular cost-of-living raises, pensions, retirement benefits, and promotions and all the other boomer-era employment participation awards that boomers act like still exist. (And yeah, that’s what a COLA raise is: a participation award. You showed up, you didn’t screw up, here’s more money. Boomers will crap all over participation awards while remaining preciously ignorant about how their entire lives were wrapped around them.)

Hell, boomers still believe that the majority way you get a job is by going into a place and showing gumption and potential.

OK Boomer

What nonsense.

Like seriously, they bang on about loyalty, but when a company yeets thousands of people into the streets, “Oh well, you have to make hard choices.”

Boomers are curiously unidirectional with their loyalty crap. The company can crater your benefits, make your health insurance nigh-unaffordable, make you pay twice for health coverage (That’s what an HSA is. Paying twice for the same thing. Tax benefits don’t change that), and make you pay almost all the cost for your own pension while acting like a 5% match is some kind of gift. Honkie please.

Oh, and they hate unions. I mean, not when they meant their parents had some protection, because it was okay when they did it. But now that they’re at the top, them workers gotta stop being so uppity and acting like their labor has any value beyond what we feel like paying.

Boomers demand total loyalty and show precisely zero. Boomers, as a rule, can kiss my ass. (Thank god my parents were Depression-era. I lucked out that way.)

When your only way to get a raise is to switch jobs, of course you’re switching jobs on the reg. When the only way to get better benefits is to switch jobs? Get a promotion that actually includes more money? When there is no job security because the CEO only cares about their exit package? When your retirement is almost entirely dependent on how well you play the market? When companies fight for “at will” employment, which means not only can they fire you because it’s Tuesday, but you have almost no protection against discrimination because any pushback and “So we’re making your position redundant, get out.”

(Don’t give me that shit about the law. If you can find a lawyer who will basically work for free for years and If you can keep fighting for decades and If you accept that once the word gets out about the lawsuit, you’ll be basically unemployable and can afford that…then you can sue over discrimination. If all of those aren’t true, you’re stupid to even try to sue for it. The law just makes it possible to win, not easy.)

So anyone giving you crap about job-hopping, if it’s at all possible, walk out. Working for that person will suck low-quality balls. That is a person who wants loyalty from you and will show you none.

The Upside

However, there’s actually an upside to it, “job hopping” that is: breadth of experience.

If you want well-researched details, “Range”, by David Epstein is an amazing book. But just in my own career, where I’ve changed jobs, on average, every 4-5 years, with different positions and industries, my “lack of loyalty” means that I have this bizarrely wide range of experience as a Sysadmin and IT tech. While the tech I’ve worked with has been basically the same from gig to gig, the implementations and management requirements of that tech has been really different, and that has been huge for me.

It’s let me avoid getting locked into a “magically perfect” solution, because how? When you go from a university to a financial services company, how the hell would what works for the former even be an option for the latter? If you tried to impose a financial service’s network requirements on an advertising company, you’d be fired out of a cannon into a brick wall, and rightfully so, because it would be a remarkably stupid idea.

Because I’ve had such a wide range of experience and situations, I can handle a wide range of problems, and be able to come up with solutions that I’d never even begin to think of if I’d worked in the same situation for 28 years. In a sense, it’s a lot like being a consultant: I’ve never had the luxury of consistency. Honestly, doing the same thing for too long, I get to where I’m just phoning it in. I’ll automate it within an inch of its life, make it all into a system, and get it to where a reasonably smart marmoset can run it.

That’s what I do to everything eventually. And while it seems nice, honestly, only having to work an hour a day or so is boring as hell. Which is when the resumes go out. If I can find a new thing to do, then that’s cool again, but, a lot of companies make that remarkably hard to do, which is just a “WHY???” thing. But it happens a lot.

So yeah. I may not have deeeeep experience in any one thing, (other than maybe SNMP and AppleScript), thanks to my “Bored now, bye” thing, I’ve encountered damned near everything, and so nothing is all that surprising, and if it is new, I can figure it out pretty quickly.

So when you see a resume that shows a wandering-assed path through the world, realize that just may be a gift you’re looking at, and take more than six seconds to really read it. May work out better than you’ve been trained to think.