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Winding Career Paths Are the Norm, Not the Exception


A person considered their career options.
A career that moves from point ASA to B is no longer a requirement.

It’s totally normal to change jobs every few years and to make significant career pivots. The data support this. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median job tenure for 25- to 34-year-olds is 2.8 years (BLS, 2022). But folks are still staying in jobs and industries they don’t enjoy, partially because they aren’t aware of this shift.

The median job tenure for 25- to 34-year-olds is 2.8 years.

In my recent LinkedIn post on this change, a commenter linked “job hopping” (their words) to slower career progression and lower lifetime salaries. The data show the opposite. A 2018 OECD U.S. Labor Mobility study showed that industry changes and interstate moves for new jobs correlate with increased income. The last 20 years of data have shown this consistently, apart from an income dip from industry pivots during the Great Recession.

Industry changes and interstate moves for new jobs correlate with increased income.
  • The only way to succeed is to stay in one job for many years. Nope

  • Working your way up in an organization is the best way to increase your salary. Nope

  • Career pivots cause people to lose income. Not in most cases

The false persistence of the myth that people must stay in a job for years and wait to receive salary promotions harms people and stunts their career progression. It keeps people in jobs, organizations, and professions that contribute to their unhappiness. It may artificially suppress their income when employers don’t have to compete for talent at the market rate. Sharing data-backed information on job tenure and its income impact helps people make informed career decisions based on data, not fear.


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