March 12, 2011

The one-year itch

We've all heard of the seven-year itch. Some of you may have experienced it. Some of us, who aren't married yet, live in fear of it.

I think I, and many of my generation, suffer from the one-year itch. You know, that phenomena where, after a year in a job, you feel the urge to jump to another one. Where you start to feel restless after a few months. You feel it's not gratifying, you're getting stagnant, even the coffee starts to taste like dishwater, and the hot receptionist (in the case of guys) starts to resemble your 50-year old aunt.

My dad's getting retired in May this year, after serving 37 years in BSNL. Thirty-fucking-seven years.

I don't think I can ever stay in one job for three years, let alone 37 years. And I take relief in the fact that it's not the problem with just me. My friends are pretty much the same. My roommate quit her first job after 11 months, and is thinking of quitting her next one soon as she completes one year there too. Another friend worked in four different places in the span of one year (he recently completed six months at his current job. It was like a celebration akin to a golden jubilee for him), yet another friend couldn't get along with her bosses, so she quit each job after a couple of months. There are more from my batch, who quit jobs after a few months. I think compared to them, I'm marginally better off, coz I held my first job for one year and four months, and don't plan to leave this second one anytime soon (But then, you never know. Once the itch comes, you gotta scratch it baby. I know. Grossville).

The other day, I was talking to dad, and he asked me "So when are you going to start looking for another job? You'll complete a year in September, right?" I didn't know what to say. Was our reputation for job-hopping so notorious? And I surprised myself with my answer. "I don't know dad, let me complete a year, then we'll see. If I still find it interesting even by september, then I'll stay on. I don't see any reason why I should quit." He was quite surprised too. So were my friends, when I told them about it.

What makes us change jobs so often? I don't even change my wardrobe so frequently. And I just can't seem to think of any reason other than 'generation problem'. Ya, to an extent, I guess that's what it is. But then, I also see other friends of mine, who did engineering, holding on to their jobs for 3-4 years. Yes, they complain, they gripe, they bitch, but they stay. Then is it just the problem with being a communications graduate? Maybe...

We need interesting jobs, something that'll be creatively gratifying as well as well-paying. We can't just work, we need to love our jobs, otherwise we won't do it well. And the best way to do it is to change jobs often, so that your interest never wanes. Soon as you get bored with one place, look for another job. It's all about building a good resume, so that there will be takers for your skill and talent. We want to follow our passion. We all want a 'career', but can't stay put in one place for long...But if that's the case, was my father bad at his work just because he was in it for 37 years? Quite contrary.. He was, and always will be, one of the most respected employees in his office. I wondered, what made him stay on in a 'boring, government job' for so long?

The answer, as it turns out, was quite simple. For him, the job was more a means of earning a living, than a vent for his passion. True, he loved his work and is a self-confessed workaholic, but he also had a family to take care of. He had responsibilities. An aging mother, wife and kids, kids' education, a house, middle-class aspirations. And let me tell you, he has done a brilliant job so far. His government job gave him security, it earned him respect in the society. He is proud of the fact that in spite of studying in a Malayalam medium school, he rose up to the level of a DGM. He could put his daughters in a central school, educate them till PG level, get his elder daughter married off lavishly, buy a flat,a car- all on his 'boring, government job' salary...

We're single, free from responsibilities, have the option to explore, and thankfully, have families that support us. But is it really going to help us in the long run? Will we ever find our passion? Will we ever be happy with any job? Sooner or later, either creativity or the money will play the bitch. I would know. I loved my first job, I thought I had found my calling. I used to slog. But gradually, I wasn't happy with the salary, And once you start to feel that you're not being paid for what you're worth (whatever that means), then you'll start to lose interest in what you do. So I quit. My current work, well, I don''t love it, but it's comfortable. The pay is better, the timings are flexible, and the best part is, I get a two-day weekend!(Yup, sometimes happiness can be as simple as a two-day weekend). I get home early, I get time to read, I get time to write. As for my passion, well, screw passion. I like my saturdays and sundays better. Ha!!

So has this rambling changed my view about the job-hopping? Will I hold on to a job even after one year, or will I succumb to the one-year itch?

I guess we'll know by september...


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. From a recruiter's perspective, no corporate as big as GE would generally recruit a guy/girl who is a habitual job-hopper. Then again, at the end of the day, it is your liking that decides how long you should stay in a particular job!

  3. @ Musings of a Trouble Mind: I beg to differ on that point you made that no corporate would recruit a habitual job hopper. It depends on how you can prove anywhere. Sure they,ll be skeptic but if you can prove how good you're, then its a diff ball game all together.

  4. A good post.

    Change is eternal, but do we really need such frequent changes? It's a point to ponder.

  5. @Musings: From what I know GE will recruit just about anybody who's willing to work for peanuts!

    @Divya: No offence meant but BSNL should been privatised years ago. At least then people would have got down to doing some work! I filled up a form 3 months back to change my broadband plan and it still hasn't happened. When I last checked they had lost it!

  6. @Musings: It's not like I'm bent upon changing jobs often.. We'll see where it goes.. And ya, from a recruiter's point of view, a job-hopper might lose out to a person who's had a more steady career path. Differs according to the companies, I guess.

    @SwB: Well well, looks like you mistook my comment box for a complaint box. :) Coz you seem to have missed the whole point of the post. And hey, what is peanuts for you may be good enough for me. I don't think I need your judgement on what I earn. I'm sure you must be a millionaire, to be calling others' salary peanuts. But just to make you happy, the next time I'm up for a job change, I'll definitely take your opinion on the 'peanuts' they offer me. :) Nice to have made your acquaintance, SwB! Now I have my very own personal banker! Although, I don't think I can pay you anything, since I'm earning peanuts. Sowwie! :(

  7. From the title I thought you were talking about marriage.I almost said a high five girl!
    We all go through that.We all want a perfect work environment.For me,the last job is always better than the current one.The truth is work is bad.I wish I had inherited a million dollars..

  8. @ Blue Lotus:

    Apparently the 7 year itch is now called the 3 year glitch. Check the link

  9. Divya: First of all I'm not a millionaire. Second my comment on GE was not directed at you or anybody else - it is a general observation based on feedback from a whole bunch of ex-GE guys I know, strengthened by the fact that every second or third resume we get happens to be a GE guy whose only reason for wanting to change is "better prospects", so that says something! If you are happy in a job that pays less, sure, stay there for 40 years - you should never change a job solely for money anyway!

    PS: Personal banking limits in most of the big investment banks is around 1m USD.

  10. @Blue Lotus: You know how it is, the grass is always greener on the other side. When we're working, we want to quit and do nothing. And when we're sitting at home twiddling our thumbs, we want to get out there and do something. :)

    @SwB: Damn! Missed out by a couple of zeros! Sigh..Maybe twenty years later, I can have a personal banker. :)
    The better prospects thing, see, anyone who's up for a new job will obviously cite only better prospects, right? That's the commonly used jargon, we've all done it. That does not necessarily mean that the last job paid them peanuts. When they leave your company to join the next one, then again they'll cite better prospects. Does that mean you paid them peanuts? No, right. They will obviously not say "Well, now that I've bought a flat, I want a BMW.Let me look for another job that'll pay me more money." And money is a very relative thing, you know. What is peanuts for you may be a year's earning for a lower-income group person.
    I'm not in anyway trying to defend the company I work for. I don't know what the others earn, and I don't want to either. As of now, I'm content with what I earn. But I definitely wouldn't want a third person saying that I work for a company that hires anyone who works for peanuts. That's pretty much like insulting my job. You are entitled to your opinion, sure. Just make sure you don't demean someone else in the process.
    Good day!

  11. The notion that happiness is directly proportional to what you earn is a very bad. Each profession has its own pay scales. Its a very conscious decision you take when you chose a profession about the pay and the satisfaction levels.

  12. @Arun: Of course, happiness and money are not directly proportional. But sooner or later, the fact that you're not earning enough is bound to get to you. That's the thing with money. the more you get, the more you want. And true, it's a conscious decision you make when you choose a particular profession. But even then, like it happened to me, a great job wasn't enough for me anymore. I needed a better pay too. It's all very nice when you're just starting out. But gradually, you will start to question whether all this effort is worth it, when you don't even have enough money to buy something nice to eat... Then again, it's a very relative concept.

  13. @ Divya:
    It is very relative. Even when you say you need enough money, that 'enough' means different to different people. Money is a requirement, but I cannot do anything for that in terms of a job. I would rather live with what I have and be happy rather than do something I don't like, get enough money and not wondering what am I doing.

  14. @Arun: Well, sometimes you gotta create your own happiness. :) Ok, now let me get to work. GE does not pay me 'peanuts' to sit and blog. ;)

  15. Looks like a messy comment-box!
    @Arun John - I buy your point! Also, people hop jobs frequently only at two instances - they look for that extra Rs 2/- or they know they are that good.

    @SwB - GE does NOT recruit anyone for peanuts! GE is known for their strong people-friendly HR policies

    @The original author, DN - Right! Differs from company to company. Its your substance that decides whether you should be taking calls of Americans or be the VP of Communications. Rock on!

  16. @ Musings of a troubled mind: I wouldn't say 2 instances alone. As a person who has jumped 4 jobs in a year, I can say that more authentically than many others. And, in all the four instances, my reason for jumping was different. Now I am readying for the next leap ;-)

  17. @Divya: It surprises me how easily people get insulted, demeaned, what have you. My apologies if that is how you felt.

    As I said at the outset my comment was not directed at you or anybody else. Which is also why I started out my first comment with the words, 'From what I know...'. Maybe I don't know the whole truth. Maybe the 8 or 10 ex-GE guys I work with were lying about how little they were getting paid. Maybe there was another reason they uprooted their families and moved to another city half way across the country. I shall ask them again. Hopefully this time they will tell me the truth.


  18. SwB's Experiments with Truth- Coming soon to bookstands! :p
    And no need for an apology,Anna.Maybe I'm not as thick-skinned as you are, to take offense so quickly. As a result, my comment page now looks like a warzone. SO let's rest the matter here. Good luck with your truth-finding mission. Cheers!!!

  19. And FYI, i'm not the one who contested that GE pays a bomb. Musings of a treoubled mind did. So pick your bone with him. I the innocent! I the know nothing!

  20. Anna? what the hell!! I'm from Goa dude!!:)

  21. And I'm a Mallu working in Hyderabad. :p. The South-Indian connection. :)

  22. Fluently written, as always.

    I will mere touch upon the 'generation' theme broached in this post.

    It reminded me of another post by a friend's friend, in which the author, I thought, got it perfectly right when she said that for many people from our generation, the jobs we seek are a way of showing home 'special' we are. Whether or not this notion of 'special' has any ring of truth (I take the negative side of the argument), it seems to have, in my humble opinion, made our generation more restless and hence prone to job-switching.

    Like your dad, mine retired as a D.G.M, from Indian Overseas Bank, where he worked for thirty-one years. I often tell him that I would be proud of myself if I survived a third of that time in a single place of work.


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