Why do UX designers change employers so often? UX Question #46

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Linda from San Jose, California, asks: Why are designers serial job quitters? It seems they hop from job to job a lot.

I love that question. Thanks for asking, Linda. This is UX Question number 46 and I am Ben Judy.

Why do UX designers change employers so often?

Well, take a quick glance at any recent, employee loyalty survey report, you’ll learn that employee loyalty is down across the board, certainly in the United States. The long-term trend has been an increase in job-hopping in just about every industry.

And it’s not just younger people, who often switch employers quickly to gain experience and find shortcuts to climbing their career ladder.

One survey shows that 91% percent of Millennials (people born between 1977-1997) expect to stay in a job for less than three years.

Job-hopping data specifically about UX designers is not easy to find. But I have a strong sense that UX people have lower than average loyalty to employers, and are frequent job-hoppers. I can think of three reasons for this: money, management and meaning.

First, show me the money. A Pew Research Center report says that the typical job switcher saw earnings jump by almost 10%, while the average worker who stayed saw their wages fall by 1.7% after adjusting for inflation. Employers just don’t pay you to stay.

Second, Management. There’s the old saying that people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. Sometimes you just want to get away from a bad boss. And UX people have no problem switching to work under better leadership.

Third, Meaning. UX people have a strong desire for professional fulfillment and career growth. If I’m in a role where my day to day work is mostly UI design but I want to do more user research, it might be easier for me to find that kind of role somewhere else rather than stay and try to navigate that role change with my current employer.

As I said in episode 31, we live in a time where there is often no loyalty from employer to employees. We saw massive tech industry layoffs at the start of 2023 and frankly, no trust was violated because no trust existed with these companies.

I think UX people are highly motivated professionals, we want interesting work, we want to work with and for people who will help us grow. And yeah, like everyone else, we like our wage increases to at least match the rate of inflation. It’s increasingly rare to find an employer where all of that exists. So, we hop around. For better or for worse, that’s the norm.

Keep asking your questions about UX. Next time, I’ll answer the question: Is UX Design an art or a science?

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