Get A Haircut and Get a Real Job

Confessions of a Job Hopper

I have a confession to make, something I’m somewhat ashamed to admit.  My parents warned me early on to avoid quitting jobs because eventually no one would hire me.  I did not heed their advice.

I did, however, wonder if something was terribly wrong with me, in addition to fearing that I was shooting myself in the foot by being irresponsible and not growing a big pension and RRSP.  Sadly, the usual conventions of being a responsible, loyal employee were not in my DNA.  Although I was a dedicated worker and always gave my best, at some point, I felt there was somewhere else I needed to be.  And so, I went.

Sometimes money comes from other opportunities.  For me, I did okay investing in real estate.  This was a long-term (for me) wait for my home equity to pay off.  I eventually had a small chunk of change to live on while I pursued writing opportunities that I did not have the time or energy for while working other jobs.

‘A few’ of the jobs and careers I have known:

  • Tourist counselor
  • Chambermaid
  • Gift business owner
  • Cashier
  • Clothes store retailer
  • Typesetter
  • Fashion merchandiser
  • Receptionist
  • Office administrator
  • Museum guide
  • Fire safety equipment territory manager
  • Administrative/personal assistant
  • Hair model
  • Published poet
  • Short story writer/commercials
  • Bill collector
  • Home renovator
  • Theatre volunteer
  • Landscape laborer
  • Mystery shopper
  • Paver representative/demonstrator
  • Alcoholic beverage sampler
  • Beer territory manager
  • Wine representative
  • Cigar representative
  • OTC pharmaceuticals representative
  • RedBull auditor
  • Price checker
  • Aerobics instructor
  • Merchandiser
  • Fundraiser
  • Furniture salesperson
  • Chocolate representative
  • Freelance Writer
  • Bookkeeper assistant
  • Packaged goods sales representative
  • Juice territory sales representative
  • Packer operator
  • Online surveys
  • Copy reader
  • Movie extra
  • Blog writer

When I examine my list, in addition to feeling slightly alarmed, I feel like I’ve lived a hundred lives.  I had loads of enjoyable experiences (and certain crushingly boring weeks—‘insert every reception job here’) and met hundreds of interesting people.  However, I also suffered a great deal of anxiety and stress that accompanied many of these jobs, and was required to work around someone else’s rigid schedules.

When someone suggests you need to stop job-hopping and get serious about your future, consider the consequences.  Do you have a safety net of savings to fall back on, or will you go into debt paying the rent? Convention says stick with a pay cheque and benefits.  But maybe your health and relationships are suffering due to a stressful career.  There are always options to consider once you look beyond your fears.  I always managed to pay my rent in between work gigs, but eventually also had an understanding, and more responsible, spouse.

Job-hopping is not for everyone and certainly may prevent certain employers from hiring you.  However, you also gain a wide array of skills, discover what you feel passionately about, and find what you won’t compromise on.

Beyond that, trying on new careers is nothing to beat yourself up about, and doesn’t mean you’re a failure.  Admittedly, I’m sure my own job-hopping reveals a deeply buried psychological wound that I’m not healing or facing, but I can’t afford the therapy with my writing salary.

Hop on down that bunny trail—you never know where it may lead, but then, nothing in life is guaranteed, not even your pension.