Should You Hire Job Hoppers?


Conventional wisdom tells HR managers and recruiters to avoid hiring job hoppers. After all, these people have demonstrated they don’t stick around in a job for long, so why run the risk of turnover? You don’t want to go through the trouble of investing time, energy, training, and money into a new employee just to watch them hop away. For this reason, avoiding job hoppers has become second nature to many of us making hiring decisions.

But when we dig a little deeper, is it actually smart to avoid job hoppers when looking for your next superstar employee? Maybe not. Here’s why:

What Does Job Hopping Actually Tell You?

It’s not a great idea to judge a candidate by their previous employment lengths, as many factors often contribute to the decision to switch jobs. Often, they had concrete reasons for leaving that led them to find perfect potential match with your company. Perhaps the candidate didn’t enjoy the work environment, dealt with an unfair boss, had too heavy of a workload, didn’t receive benefits, or had to deflect office gossip. Maybe they simply decided it was time to switch career paths, needed to move, or their dream job came along and they just couldn’t justify letting it slip away.

It’s impossible to know the story behind a job hopper or if they will hop along again. Look at the facts: A recent study by Evolv looked at 100,000 call center employees and isolated candidates who had job hopped recently. Researchers then went back further in their work history to see if this behavior was part of a pattern of job hopping.

They found job hoppers and non-job hoppers held about the same amount of jobs. This means former job hopping isn’t actually a good predictor of job stability in the future.

Everyone Is Hopping Along

Here’s another reason you should rethink your avoidance of job hoppers: everyone is hopping now. In fact, the employment marketplace sees more hopping than frogs and lily pads.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median number of years a worker stays in the same position is about 4.4 years. The days of 20-year tenures and the “company man” have most certainly passed, especially in today’s tough economy.

Not even an economic miracle is likely to turn the tide when it comes to job hopping. This is because Millennials are even more likely to abandon ship than their older coworkers. According to statistics, the tenure of young workers is only about 2.3 years, and 91 percent of Millennials expect to stay in a job for less than three years.

Following this logic, the average young worker will have between 15 and 20 jobs throughout the course of their career. A study by PwC showed only 18 percent of university graduates expected to stay with their current employer for the long term. Job hopping is a phenomenon not likely to go away soon, so it’s time to adjust to the new reality of the employment marketplace.

So Why Hire Job Hoppers?

All these stats and figures on the impossibility of avoiding job hoppers may have you feeling backed into a corner, but there are plenty of reasons former job hoppers will be a good addition to your organization. Here are just a few:

Better Cultural Fit: Job hoppers are looking for an organization in which they feel at home. Once they find this workplace home, there will be little motivating them to hop again. In fact, a study by Net Impact found 88 percent of workers consider “positive culture” essential for their work. Contrast this with the 86 percent looking for job security, and you’ll see just how important it is for workers to find a place to call home.

Learning: It doesn’t matter how many times a candidate has hopped from job to job — what matters is what those hops say about the candidate’s career passion. Perhaps the candidate was feeling stagnant in a former job, unable to take on more responsibilities. Perhaps they hopped because they wanted to learn new things. After a few years on the job, a worker’s learning curve flattens out. But this isn’t so for the job hopper, who will continually add skills and experience by bouncing from role to role. By the time this candidate bounces over to you, they likely have a wide-ranging and highly-developed skillset that adds value to your organization.

Passion: In the same Net Impact study, 58 percent of workers agreed they would take a 15 percent pay cut if it meant the organization they worked for shared their values. This means workers want to be passionate about the company they work for and the job they do. They don’t just want a 9-to-5 promising security and a steady paycheck, they want to work for an organization they can believe in. Communicate your organizational goals and cultural expectations clearly, and workers will be more likely to engage with your mission statement and stick around for the long haul.

Just because a candidate has job hopped in the past doesn’t mean they will do so in the future. Understanding the prevalence of job hopping and the benefits of job hopper candidates means you can find the best people for your open positions, even if their resumes aren’t perfect.

What do you think? Would you hire a job hopper? Share in the comments!

About the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.

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