Failures and Job Hoppers

Society is one of the most influencing factors on how we shape our career paths. We all want to place ourselves as an ideal marionette of those entitled to pull the strings and define the rules of the game. Some of you may already know how dropping out of school is labeled as an act of irresponsibility and some of you may already know the feeling of being discredited by colleagues, friends or family who lack the nerve to rip up the roots and move on to greener pastures, whether it be a new job or an entirely new venture.

Kristján Pétur Sæmundsson
Kristján Pétur Sæmundsson

Nowadays, we have access to vast amount of information that can help us get the necessary feedback to validate our plans. Startups create a wide range of opportunities and by doing so, they tend to scream for attention wherever they can, in hope of attracting great talent.

Most of them fail, become mediocre and in a sense unsuccessful, while some close millions in risky seed rounds. I think we’ve managed to grasp the fact that going out on a limb, taking a chance by risking everything on one turn of pitch-and-toss, for the slim possibility of building something significant and worthwhile, might be the best place to align your mindset with your end goal. Furthermore, such ventures are likely to accumulate knowledge that not even one of the best schools could ever teach you – you have to make your own decisions.

I am sure you’ve read books and articles on success stories from entrepreneurs, leaders and companies that seem to somehow stand out from the crowd. They wrap you up in the idea of success, but often fail to mention the importance of failure on the way.

Too often do we give little regard to those whose doors close long before they are opened –  those who fail small and early. The startup community gives credit to failure, but only when it comes to well known companies, the media help in growing into successful role models, only to watch them fall apart, giving us the idea that they “fail gracefully”, in order to rise up even stronger, adding more value to their comeback.

Seldom do we pay attention those who struggle on their way towards success and fail too soon, not focusing on the importance of the paradoxical side-effect of failure – the learning experience that comes along with it. As long as you are fully committed and as long as you put all your energy and efforts in it, success and failure go hand in hand, giving you important feedback to learn about yourself.

This lack of regard is also valid for those sometimes referred to as “ job hoppers”, those who, for one reason or another, have changed jobs frequently in the past. In terms of employment, we often put too much emphasis on searching for educational background and honorary degrees. A short tenure doesn’t constitute failure, just as an equally long formal education doesn’t constitute success.

The fact is that cultural fit, challenging environments and appropriate development are just as important to the employee as they are to the employer, and they hold the right to assess their relationship with the employee regularly, just as the employer does towards them.

I for one would probably qualify as a job hopper. I have held four positions in different companies, in less than four years. Each of them forced me to adapt, learn and expand my vision upon different procedures and strategies. Every “hop” made me able to take on new matters with a range of previous experiences to draw from.

I challenge you to think about each role you’ve held and list up a few things that you picked up on or developed at each place, regardless of the length of your tenure. Then, compare what you learned during your first year within a company, to what you learned the last year within the same company. Compare the educational value of  both your wins and your losses. Which had a greater impact on your professional path and personal development?

Building on this introspection, do you think your position towards potential talent may need to be reassessed?

The author is a Recruiting Manager at TeqHire. is a specialized recruiting service for the tech industry that operates in Iceland, Romania and Berlin.

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