I stumbled across this informative YouTube reel that does a skit comparing a person who stays loyal to their company for decades versus someone who hops jobs every three years. As you might expect, the skit ends with the person hopping jobs making substantially more after they meet again in 20 years.
But is it accurate?
One of the most upvoted comments is that “this only works in certain industries.”
Certainly, there’s some truth to that. Certain industries have a cap on what they can pay you. You can’t just keep going up infinitely. That’s a naive, overly simplistic world view.
I would argue the expectation that you can keep increasing your salary infinitely with this method is false for certain job titles as well. There’s a rough cap to what certain jobs, like a project manager, sanitation specialist, waiter, secretary, etc. can make. They’re not going to just keep adding to you forever just because you’ve been job hopping for the last 50 years. There’s a supply and demand to it. There’s probably someone younger and more hungry and available who will do the work for less.
So, you also don’t want to come to the expectation that this little “hack” is going to solve everything for you. What’s more important is developing one more indispensable, highly desired, low supply skills. That’s less easy to copy, especially if these skills take years to develop. When people talk about how “whether more experience should always lead to more income”, I believe it depends. The ones who actually earn more are those who focused on developing these high quality skills. The ones who just cruised on by without developing these skills and hoped that their old age and years in the workforce would be enough probably didn’t get as much of an income increase as they desired over time.
With all that being said, I think the general message here is accurate. It’s cliche. You’ve probably heard it before. It’s unoriginal. Yet there’s truth there. For whatever reason, companies are usually unwilling to give substantial raises to their employees. (Keep in mind, everything I am saying is in generalities. I’m sure there are exceptions where a minority of star performers may get compensated more in some rare use cases or companies. Not every company is the same.)
I learned this myself the hard way. I was working in the digital marketing industry, and I saw many new employees come and go rapidly. I sneered at it (figuratively) because I felt like it was better to zig when the crowd zagged. You don’t get atypical results in the life by always following the crowd.
I saw tons of coworkers come in and out the door. They would stay for six months, one year, or two years at most. Then, they would hop to another company, likely for the increased salary. I knew it wasn’t likely because the company I worked for was a bad work place because I enjoyed it and most people seemed to as well. We had free snacks in the lunch room, lots of young, smart people, interesting work, and a casual workplace. Based on what I had heard and saw, they embraced and chased the “job hopping mindset” for more income. Some ended up coming back because they realized that other things like enjoyable work and a good work-life balance and commute mattered too. And the places they went to weren’t as good. Others found equally good places and just hopped around often.
I figured I would be different and stay loyal. I would over-deliver and do a great job at my work, show my enthusiasm. And then, my loyalty would be rewarded. Instead, I got typically meager annual raises from a low, modest starting salary. If I ever brought it up slightly, I was told how the margins of the business couldn’t support more and about how the inner workings of the business have a lot of expenses. I knew the founders fairly well, and it didn’t seem like they were bad people. I don’t believe they didn’t want to give big raises. They did. One of the earlier years, they even bragged about how they would give bigger raises than the industry. Likely, the expenses of the business got in the way.
I ended up staying there for half a decade, which is a veteran level of tenure in this industry. And when I moved, I found a wonderful new job with a noticeable increase in salary. I guess it sometimes is better to just follow the cliche rather than try and reinvent a career tactic or do it in your own unique way. For whatever reason, sometimes, competing companies are willing to pay more to hire someone new rather than see or reward the talent they have.
Maybe it’s because I wasn’t a top talent. Some companies do reward their top performers well. Or at least they should. Netflix’s founder wrote a book describing that’s how they operate.
Maybe it’s just because of how this company I worked for was, which isn’t indicative of other companies out there.
I would say, do your research, keep a pulse on the market, and use this info to make your best choice. I should’ve at least kept a pulse on the market and what recruiters were offering on LinkedIn. Instead, my loyalty was too absolute to the point where I was blind and avoided even conversing with recruiters. That was a mistake! Part of this involves actively researching and checking roles because recruiters may not come to you that often, especially if you don’t have an optimized LinkedIn profile.
I still prefer loyalty and staying with a company for a long time. Where I work is a tribe, and it sucks when I see the rapid turnover and movement of others. However, it’s not always a bad thing. They could be off to a better adventure or job. And that’s another thing I learned: I thought I found a unique, awesome place to work that would be hard to replicate. I figured this was the best I could get. It turns out there are other companies out there with cultures and workplace experiences that are just as good or better. And as you grow in your workplace and develop your skills, your desirability could increase as well, leading to more options.
So should you take the advice of this YT reel? Yes. Is it everything and is it dependent on many other factors? Of course. Work-life balance, enjoyment of your job, etc. can all play a role. You don’t always have to keep hopping or trying to increase your income. It’s fine to stay if there are other things that you adore about your job.