Only 1 in 5 young people are job hoppers

New generation, new career model? Not entirely. Our Millennials are definitely not the job hoppers people often consider them to be. Only 1 in 5 wish to regularly switch employers during the course of their career. Apart from this, expectations are very high despite the difficult economic climate. Young people mainly dream of becoming autonomous, opportunities for further training and education and a good work/life balance. By contrast, they are not prepared to be particularly flexible themselves and they expect a high salary, as well as overtime pay. Last but not least, they are taking control of their own careers but, at the same time, they also want their employers to offer them promotion prospects right from the start.

This is apparent from a trend study into the expectations of young people entering the labour market. For the ninth time, the Centre for Excellence in Career Management at Vlerick Business School has charted the career prospects of ‘Millennials’. 880 final-year students at Flemish universities of applied sciences and research universities took part in the survey which was conducted in the spring of 2014. The students taking part in the survey were mainly enrolled in courses of study to prepare them for corporate life, such as economics.


The image of young people as job hoppers is not correct. Only 22% stated that they would regularly like to switch employers during their career. However, the majority (60%) do tend to regard their first employer as a step-up to a better job at a different company:

  • 46% intend to stay with their first employer for 1 to 3 years
  • 27% wish to stay from 3 to 5 years

High expectations

Unlike previous generations, young people today wish to see the values and standards they consider important reflected in their job,’ says Dirk Buyens, professor of Human Resources Management at Vlerick Business School. ‘They are keen to work for a company with a vision that can be reconciled with their own convictions and values. However, from a broader perspective, the job and company must also fit in with their personality, interests and family situation. Authenticity is very important to them: they want their job to be an extension of who they are and what they stand for. For this reason, it is important for companies to give young people sufficient freedom to make their own mark on their job.’

Autonomy and work/life balance are also high on the agenda for young people. 83% want to be free to decide where and when to work. 82% consider a good work/life balance important. It is striking that only 35% of the young people questioned were prepared to make promises with regard to flexibility. Sara De Hauw, a researcher at Vlerick Business School: ‘The assumption that young people tend to go all out for their career at the start of their working life is therefore not entirely correct. They are already concerned with finding a good balance between their work and their personal life from practically their first day at work. Working overtime or taking work home is not a matter of course for them. 78% also believe they should be paid for working overtime. On the one hand, young people are prepared to work hard and give it their all, but they also attach considerable importance to their personal life and set clear boundaries when it comes to flexibility.

In addition, Millennials expect their employer to provide a challenging job content to facilitate further development of their expertise. They also set great store by a pleasant, sociable atmosphere and camaraderie on the work floor.

And although remuneration is not a deciding factor for this generation, their salary expectations are very high: on average, young people expect to earn 1,759 euros net at the start and aim for an average of 2,783 euros net after five years. The top 5 fringe benefits are as follows: hospitalisation insurance (81%), overtime pay (78%) and pension schemes (73%), followed by a company car (61%) and extra days of paid holiday leave (56%).

A career as a shared responsibility

Compared to previous generations, young people today are more in control of their own career than ever before. ‘Around halfway through the previous academic year, 50% were already actively looking for a job,’ says researcher Inge De Clippeleer. ‘Young people are therefore realising that, more than previous generations, they must take control of their own career and not simply wait until an opportunity presents itself.’

‘However, it's a case of having your cake and eating it, too,’ adds researcher Ine Willemse. ‘Young people who are taking more responsibility for their own career also want their employer to make just as much effort when it comes to promotion prospects.’ For example, 86% already expect their employer to offer them career prospects at the start of their collaboration. ‘These do not need to be well-defined career paths. There is certainly no need for their progression within the organisation to be set in stone. However, they do wish to know what promotion prospects are available to them and also expect their employer to invest in their career.’   

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