Posted by Robert Half on 24 February 2017
Not too many years ago, job hopping wasn't even a term for professionals. Loyalty to one employer was the standard.
Today, that type of career path is becoming as rare as lifelong pensions. Job hopping, once given a bad reputation, is becoming the norm among the workforce of today.
What are some of the common characteristics of job hoppers, and how can managers evaluate if they’re suitable for the job? In this article, we explore the impact of job hopping on today's recruitment and how managers should know when making hiring choices.
Why it matters
From the employer’s point of view, this is logical. New employees are a big investment, and a candidate with an unstable work history looks like a bad bet. Are they difficult to get along with, disloyal or impossible to satisfy? Will they jump at the next offer they get, will they be too demanding or are they just slackers?
Every employer is weighing up your possible benefits (skill, will and experience) against the potential risks, and ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ is a big risk. This is why smart employers work to keep their current talent with good conditions and justified rewards.
A broader set of skills
A job hopper’s spree might have given him or her exposure to various different industries and responsibilities in a shorter period of time. Well-rounded knowledgeable employees can be a boon to your company by offering new perspectives you might not be able to get from hiring someone who has stayed put in the same company for years.
There is, however, a catch: a jack of all trades and a master of none may have their uses, but they are not necessarily what you need, especially if your company is in need of high level expertise. Depending on the requirements of the job, it is important to assess the suitability of the candidate’s skills for the position.
The last thing you’d want would be to hire someone who has a breadth of knowledge but lacks the depth and ability to implement it correctly. Look for success and achievements in the candidate’s previous roles, instead of merely focusing on the time spent in each job and the position filled.
Short-term jobs, long-term relationships
One invaluable advantage of job hopping you can look for in a candidate might be the ability to network well. They say it’s not just what you know, but who you know. Someone who has been job hopping for a while would have rubbed shoulders with people who might become invaluable contacts, and a smart worker would hold on to those contacts to assist them in the years ahead.
When you conduct reference checks, assess not only the candidate’s quality, but also survey the network that they’ll invariably be bringing along. This could be a win-win situation for both of you.
Change is sometimes for the better
Not every job hopper is simply fickle, so it’s vital to question why a candidate has been job hopping prior to applying for a position in your company. There are good reasons and bad reasons for moving on to the next best thing.
For example, you can obtain some advantages of changing jobs such as a better pay package, improved work-life balance, or a faster climb up the corporate ladder, especially if you’ve been stagnant in the same company for a while despite having good reviews.
Look out for candidates who think in the long term; someone who has made a strategic shift into an industry that aligns itself with their career goals may be a better fit than someone who jumped ship just because of a bigger pay cheque. Meanwhile, someone who has been switching from one career path to another with little progress and no goal in sight is not someone whom you’d want to hire.
There is more to job hopping than most realise
At the end of the day, it has to be weighed on a case by case basis. Very often, “mistakes” can be chalked up to youthful adventurousness, and sometimes job hopping is simply a case of trial and error with one's career goals.
Wisdom and experience comes with time, and long-term job stability isn’t the major priority that it was back in the day. It’s not easy to find a job where you genuinely love what you do, and some people need to go through several stepping stones before they find their true calling.