Job-hopping vs. “Grindhopping”

Mommy Wars RIP?: It looks like the myth of the Mommy Wars may finally be drawing its last breath (see also Washington Post). Hopefully, now we can focus on the real question: How do we all—men, women, single people, parents, eldercare providers, retirees–work and have a personal life in a 24/7, high-tech, global work reality?

Now back to the blog…

The conscious intention behind our work+life “fit” choices makes a difference.

Job-hopping – The myth that the “Grass is Greener”

In January, I appeared on Maggie Mistal’s Career Talk radio show on the Martha Stewart Network. I talked about the fact that people always seem to think that the work/life “balance” grass will be greener at their next job. Only to realize once they’ve made a change that their same work+life challenges still exist.

Mistal, who is a career coach, agreed. “I am seeing more and more people hopping from job to job every two years. Their current job is too stressful, so they leave and get a new job. No one expects much from them for the first the first six months so they get a break, but then all of a sudden the same stresses from the old job appear and the next thing you know, they are looking for another new job. And the cycle continues.”

We concurred that a new job is not necessarily the answer. It’s better to try to partner with your employer to find a better “fit,” one that meets your needs as well as the needs of the business. Chances are, if you are a good employee, your manager will say yes for at least a trial period. The worst thing that can happen is they say no, then you are right back where you started. And the truth is no employer will ever be able to give you “balance.” No matter where you work, you are responsible for managing your work+life fit.

Then, there is “Grindhopping”—Or, job-hopping with a conscious purpose

Shortly after I appeared on Mistal’s show a fascinating book landed on my deskcalled Grindhopping by Laura Vanderkam. At first glance, the premise of the book might seem like the scenario I just described–hopping from job to job. But there is a definite difference and it can be summed up in to two words: conscious intention.

Job-hopping is an unconscious attempt to find an answer—a work/life “balance” that a company gives you —that doesn’t exist. But grindhopping is a conscious choice to craft a unique career and a life (or work+life fit) through strategic project-based employment.

Vanderkam’s “Grindhopping” Guidelines and her frank discussion of downsides of free-agency (such as a lack of corporate-sponsored health insurance and general uncertainty) highlight the differences between undefined versus intentional job changes. You go into grindhopping knowing your goals as well as the trade-offs for the flexibility of charting your own course.

As Charles Handy predicted in the Age of Unreason (1989), the traditional definition of a career path for individuals and of a workforce for organizations is changing. This is true whether your choice is free-agency (grindhopping), or numerous full-time or reduced schedule jobs (job-hopping). But the important thing is that you make your choices with intention, knowing that no organization can “give” you the unique “fit” you are looking for. You need to be an active partner in the process.

Do you find more people are job-hopping or grindhopping? What do you think the difference is?

2 thoughts on “Job-hopping vs. “Grindhopping”

  1. I find the title “grindhopping” very strange.
    Those who go jobhopping don’t want to take the time to really research the place where they are signing on. Even with knowing that it may not work out—it is the easiest way.
    The grindhopping is closer to what career counselors want clients to do—-spend the time and energy necessary to find the right career, including work/life benefits. I am puzzled by the term, but don’t want to buy the book.

  2. I think grindhopping is more than job hopping with increased deliberation. The reference to the “grind” makes it a sort of manifesto, not against worker purposelessness but against the tradition that calls for young people to “pay dues.”

    Some aspects of dues paying valid: getting life experience and maturity under the belt, learning the ropes. Other aspects are simply artifacts of a dysfunctional culture: specifically, the idea that people should start “at the bottom” regardless of their capacities and that “getting to the top” is the reward for playing along.

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