The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hop, skip and jump

At a certain media house, it is customary to wake up in the morning and wonder if your CEO is still around. The organisation seems to follow a revolving door policy: one day the man at the top is riding high; the next, he is out on his butt. 'You could call it forced job-hopping,' says a Mumbai-based HR practitioner.

There was a time when CEOs were expected to be stable. They were groomed for the job (even if it happened to be a scion of the family). They had to provide continuity, maintain the corporate culture. The new economy ' and media is very much a part of that ' seems to have ushered in a different era.

In the dotcoms, it has become customary for CEOs to move after short stints. That's inevitable. The rate of failure of dotcoms is so high -- above 99 per cent by one estimate ' that CEOs have to ditch the ruins of one business plan to start off on another. India has not seen as much of it as the West. But ask Indians in Silicon Valley and they will tell you that it is very much a done thing for them. It's not just failure that spurs the job-hopping; success has given rise to a new breed of serial entrepreneurs.

You can see job-hopping in the strangest places these days. Conventional wisdom has it that the malaise is most prevalent in the IT sector and amongst BPO (business process outsourcing) outfits. But, a recent employee vulnerability study undertaken by NFO India says, constant job-hopping is just as much prevalent in traditional sectors like manufacturing, engineering and PSUs (public sector undertakings).

Sectors of Corporate India
most vulnerable to job-hopping
Lack of growth opportunities
Dissatisfaction with job content
Inadequate emphasis on policies and systems
Interpersonal relationships
Source: NFO India survey

Is there something we missed' How is it that these manufacturing sector job-hoppers haven't come into the limelight' The reality is that the study looks at desires. Most executives in manufacturing and allied sectors would love to switch, if they had the opportunity. They are not making news because they can't; there are insufficient avenues available.

HR practitioners say that job-hopping no longer has the adverse connotations it used to in India as recently as five years ago. And there are several things to be said in favour of job-hopping. First, it gives you a wide variety of experiences. Ideally, one should job-hop to a range of very different jobs at the start of one's career. Even though you tend to get slotted in a particular career path, changing companies will give you better exposure. Job-hopping also indicates that you are a risk-taker, something that is a requirement for certain types of jobs. It also gives you a better Rolodex, a must for rapid progress in this networked world. Promotions and salary hikes are, of course, the expected part of the gains.

But the main thing really is to know what you are about. Says an HR expert: 'If you have a gameplan ' if your job-hopping is something more than trying to make a few extra bucks ' companies you try to join will regard it as an asset.' After all, if it has started happening more and more at the very top, why should corporate newbies lose out on the fun and the experience'

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