First jobs are largely about getting one's foot in the door because finding employment is a catch-22 — you need experience to get experience. A first job is an opportunity to learn professionalism applicable to all fields, to establish a routine for oneself, to realize one’s interests and strengths and to network. But Monster.com recently commissioned a “My First Job” survey among graduates 18 to 34 years old and found that 29 percent of candidates actually quit their first jobs before hitting their one-year marks. While they do so for a gamut of reasons, a large majority of them simply feel unprepared.
About 18 months is the “socially accepted minimum” that people are advised to stay in their first jobs — it suggests that they’d survived at least one review cycle. And even though longer job tenure is associated with higher levels of education, which millennial professionals have more of than, say, Gen X’ers, millennials are notorious for job hopping.
The results of the Monster.com survery aren’t too surprising. After all, most respondents took their first job after just three months of hunting (58 percent), and admittedly made a few mistakes. While 28 percent of them their first job through job sites, 18 percent found them through connections via family and friends. Regardless how how they found their first jobs, though, 33 percent of survey respondents said that their biggest mistake was not asking enough questions, 28 percent said their biggest mistake was not knowing much about the potential employer and 19 percent said they focused too much on salary.
As for their decisions to quit before one year, 60 percent of the respondents said that they left for reasons regarding professional growth — there were better work opportunities elsewhere. Meanwhile, 16 percent felt like they could have been compensated with higher salaries. That’s why Forbes reported in 2017 that millennials aren’t “job hopping;” rather, they’re “jumping at opportunity.”
“The boomers began retiring at about the same time millennials began to enter the workforce, and therein lies the problem: There aren’t enough Gen X’ers around to backfill the rapidly depleting workforce,” wrote Forbes writer, Rick Gillis. “Hence, there's a need to promote millennials beyond entry-level and into mid-management and senior positions that they may or may not be prepared for. The ‘job hoppers’ are reacting to a very rich and lucrative job market. The offers are coming fast and furiously.”
But that’s just it — millennials may or may not be prepared. Sixty-six percent of Monster.com’s survery respondents were under-prepared for their first jobs. About 37 percent said they felt that opportunities for skilling and overall preparedness were missing, and 29 percent cited domain expertise as a key challenge.
“The good thing is that the millennials themselves are quite aware of the critical need to enhance their skills,” says Sanjay Modi, Managing Director, Monster.com, APAC & Middle-East. “Internships undoubtedly play a transformative role in instilling both confidence and imparting skills in job seekers. The organizations must have better-structured internship programs that provide these bright and enthusiastic young minds with opportunities to shape their careers and equip them to build their professional capabilities.”
This research shows an obvious need for more internships and vocational training opportunities for prospective employees before they dive right into the real world. Millennials might still "job hop" for better opportunities, but at least they'd be better equipped when they do.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.