How long Canadians stay at work

Job hopping is the new normal

Peter Harris|

We’ve heard complaints from employers about ‘job hopping’ candidates who show no loyalty to their jobs. So for our new Thinkopolis report, “Time to Work,” the Workopolis team took a look at how long on average Canadians are staying in their jobs. It turns out that the way we work is changing quickly.

Millions of resumes have been uploaded to Workopolis in the decade and a half since we were founded in 2000. Even those very first resumes added had work histories going back a decade or more. This gives us data from over 7,000,000 employment-history records dating from 1990 to the present.

During the first decade of that time, from 1990 through 2000 the number of people staying at their jobs for less than two years doubled from 16 percent to 33 per cent of employees. That trend has only accelerated into the 2000s, almost doubling again from 33 per cent to 51 per cent. Shorter stints at jobs have now become the majority.

The number of people who held the same job for longer than four years has dropped dramatically over the past two decades. While from 1990-2002, most people (55-60 per cent) stayed in the same job for at least four years, that number has been cut in half since 2002. Now just 30 per cent of people hold any one job for over four years.

The move to frequent job changes continues to this day: approximately one third (32 per cent) of candidates who started new jobs in 2013 have already left or changed their job since.

We polled Workopolis visitors last month to see why they had left their most recent jobs. It turns out that a poor working relationship with their boss was the biggest reason to make a change. Disengagement at work was also a common factor. Here’s what Canadians told us.

    What’s your reason for leaving your most recent job?

    My relationship with my boss – 37%
    I was bored, unhappy with the work – 29%
    I found a better opportunity – 20%
    Poor fit with the culture / coworkers – 14%

While some employers still view ‘job hopping’ as a red flag on a candidate’s resume – shorter tenure in jobs and more frequent employment changes have become more common than not.

Three reasons why hiring ‘job hoppers’ can be good for employers:

  • As more and more people change jobs increasingly frequently, this group is becoming too large a pool of talent to simply disregard.
  • Changing jobs frequently gives workers a broader perspective of their industry, because they become familiar with the inner workings, challenges and strategies of numerous organizations.
  • Job hoppers are perpetually the ‘new person’ on the team and so tend to be more flexible and hard working without a sense of complacency or entitlement, because they are in the first-impression phase. This energy can reinvigorate a team.
  • Career detours

    Along with more frequent changes in jobs, many Canadians are also changing directions completely. We polled Workopolis users just this year about how many different career paths they have followed over their working lives. More than two-thirds (69 per cent) of people have worked in more than one field, and almost half (48 per cent) have changed careers at least three times.

      How many different career paths have you had
      in your working life?

      I’ve always worked in the same field – 31%

      I’ve switched careers once – 21%

      Three or four different kinds of jobs – 35%

      More than four career paths – 13%

    Tips for transitioning to a different career field

  • Research the industry to ensure you know the challenges, trends and jargon used. Even without experience, you still want to come across as knowledgeable.
  • Tailor your skills and accomplishments to the specific needs of the industry that you are targeting.
  • Highlight your transferable skills that are in demand across industries, such as communications, leadership, and problem solving.
  • Be prepared to start at a lower level and work your way back up.
  • You can read the full report and download the infographic @


    Peter Harris
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    • David Gay

      Considering how the concept of “company loyalty” has gone the way of the dodo and the VHS tape format, this article is not surprising. I mean, why would anyone want to sacrifice a chunk of their personal life for a company that will terminate your employment for the sake of the bottom line?

      I think employees are getting it now, particularly the Gen Y’rs. They’re getting the message that your job is not your life and whatever you do for work is just that, work. People want work-life balance: being a good parent, being a good neighbour, being a positive person that wants to contribute to society. Good for them!


    • Beth Campbell Duke

      Absolutely agree with David – the traditional definition of ‘Job Security’ has morphed. We no longer look to employers for job security – it comes from inside each one of us.

      I was glad to find the original Workopolis report here – because the press reports I read pertaining to this article had things slanted to imply that workers today are ‘more likely to ‘job hop’ to find the perfect position rather than stick it out in the same place for 30 years’ (The Canadian Press). There’s clearly still a stigma to ‘job hopping’ – as if it’s the choice of a self-absorbed generation rather than a reality we’re all facing.

    • bryan

      I notice that this article focuses exclusively on reasons why people leave jobs voluntarily. That is only one half of the picture. Does your complete report tell how many people switched jobs because they were laid off or replaced by TFW and were unable to get another position with the same organization? How many of the people who left voluntarily did so because of the after effects of downsizing? By leaving out this kind of information, your article paints an unrealistic picture in which people pick and choose between jobs the way they might decide which counter to go to for a snack at a food court.

      • Darcy Hudjik

        All excellent points mentioned David, Beth and Bryan.
        I’ve read in many sources that in addition to keeping your skills current, the only sure way to ensure a decent wage, one that more or less keeps up with the cost of living, is to job hop.
        Job hopping has a positive spin as well; you tend not to get stuck in secular ruts as easily as some people who may have been at a job for four or more years.

    • maxjadin

      If employer’s acknowledge their workers efforts, treat them with dignity and respect, this kind of situation would not exists. Let’s look at both side of the coin here. It’s enough Canadians know about FTW program and how business are taking advantage of this and making excuses that there is not enough experienced or qualified workers….or making their Canadian employee to train FW only to know they will be laid off.

    • Chrissy

      Let me just start out by saying I am a good worker…..the problem is also placed on the employer themself since they have resorted to the concept of employees are replaceable ….. yes we are but……I ask for respect and in turn you will get it back but the replacement issue comes into play. You get what you give…..I have had about four jobs in the last 13 years and left for various reasons. But I have noticed the employers doesn’t seem to want input or direct communication just go deal with the problem yourselves and then it doesn’t work the employer will deem you as as useless and it goes down hill from there……money, money, money bottom line
      I guess I’m normal thanks for letting me know and thanks for the tips nw I will be justified