We lie so much about why we job-hop

I think we all know this about humanity, but there are oftentimes “the real reason” for something happening and then there’s the corresponding “reason we claim.” This is all because we want to reconcile sense of self. Let me give you a horrible example.

Reason we claim for infidelity: “I’m so horrible, I strayed, it’s because of issues with my mom…”

Real reason: “I wanted to have sex with another person who made me feel hot/good and felt limited by the idea of only continuing to have sex with one for 40 years since that’s not how our biology is coded.”

That’s a crappy ethical example, sure, but I needed to make a splash at the beginning of this post. Hook ’em high, ya know?

Why do people actually job hop? (The real reason)

Pretty simple:

  • To make more money
  • Their last job had an absolutely miserable boss
  • They’re moving to be closer to a significant other or an area they want to try living in

Those would be the “Big 3,” I think. №4 would probably be “Just got fired/laid off/replaced by a robot.” That actually might statistically outrank one or more of the three I listed, especially as companies become more cost-averse.

Why do people claim they job-hop?

Host of bullshit, including:

  • “In love with the culture…”
  • “The product suite is so great…”
  • “It was time for this challenge…”
  • “My mentor said…”

In some cases this is true, yes. In many, it’s not. Here’s why:

  • Culture: Glassdoor be damned, you have absolutely no idea what the culture of a company is like until you start working there. It also completely varies by whether you’re HQ, remote, what team, what managers, etc.
  • Product Suite: In most industries, the product suite of a given company is almost exactly the same as most of its rivals. There are maybe 3–4 subtle differences. This is all called “choice overload.” How different would it be to work on Siri vs. Google Home, honestly?
  • “It was time for…” just means “It was time to make more money.”
  • “My mentor said…” This one can be real, but there’s a good chance your mentor told you “Hey, you have two children and a mortgage now, so maybe get the scratch wherein you can.”

Why is there a disconnect between what we say and the real reason?

No one except a true financial services d-bag wants to showcase to the world that their entire motivation is money, but for most of us (Daniel Pink be damned), a lot of the motivation is money.

We live in a capitalism. More specifically, we live in a capitalism where the cost of goods and services rises way higher than our salaries do. If we want a specific kind of life, we need a certain amount of money.

I freelance and struggle with this stuff all the time. My checking account has overdrawn periodically in the past three years. Am I proud of this? No. Could I be better? Of course. Will I be? With time. I also try to live my life and go out and see people. Social connection matters more to me than my FICO score sometimes, you know? (PS My credit score is pretty rad.)

But look, at some point we’re all assassins. I’ll take a shitty gig if the check is going to clear and be big. You probably would hop to a place wherein the culture might be toxic if it’s going to get you that Tesla.

We should stop lying about this.

What other problems result from this disconnect?

A ton:

  • Surveys are meaningless, especially on salary topics, because most people aren’t telling the truth
  • Information asymmetry around salary negotiations
  • Pay transparency
  • Execs continue to believe they can peddle “culture” and “engagement” and keep base salaries down even though milk costs like $4 now for some reason
  • We kick the ownership of all these issues (exit interviews, etc.) to HR, where nothing tangible actually ever happens, so it’s all rinse and repeat

The bottom line

Go on LinkedIn now and just post “The last time I switched jobs, I did it for money.” See what people say. Probably a ton of people won’t even see the post (social media and organic posts don’t do well with algorithms). Those that do? Largely will be ignored — no one on LinkedIn even understands what LinkedIn is, lol — and a few people might like it. But hey, truth to power. And you’d be speaking truth.

Stop bullshitting your friends, family, and former colleagues on why you jumped. None of us are ever assured the grass is greener. We do the best with the info we have. And oftentimes the main piece of info we’re staring down is the big salary number.

Blogging, largely about work and how to improve it. How I make (some) money: http://thecontextofthings.com/work-with-me/

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