To job hop or not to job hop?

Chloé Delolme / August 25, 2015
Category : Recruitment
Caption: To job hop or not to job hop?

Results from Beyond’s recent national survey say 71% of HR professionals are not willing to hire job hoppers. But what is a job hopper anyway? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average professional switches jobs once every three to four years. So any applicant who has changed employers more than that is likely to be critically viewed as a job hopper by recruiters.

However, a great number of short term work experiences does not necessarily have to be a warning sign. Job hoppers may be more versatile with clearer life goals which also makes them attractive professionals for any company. According to Joe Weinlick, Vice President of Marketing for Beyond, having a lot of experience can be an asset if you know how to structure your resume and pay close attention to how you present your experience. On the other hand, employers do fear a lack of reliability and loyalty with such profiles.

In a recent article on Forbes, contributor Jacob Morgan asks the following question: how long should employees stay at a job before they leave and is that a bad thing to keep switching jobs? And his answer is: it depends. The reality is most HR executives are more concerned with a long term pattern of job hopping than job hopping itself. Some recruiters still look for that longer term loyalty commitment. However, Jacob Morgan would never advise any professional to stay at a job only to show they are loyal: clearly that would be counterproductive.

In his personal experience, job hopping worked when he left his first job after college because he wasn’t working on interesting projects like the company promised. “It was in my best interest and in the organization’s best interest to not have somebody like me there because I was very disengaged”, he explains.

Changing jobs at this stage of his life actually gave him the opportunity to grow as a professional. Indeed, many employees are job hopping because they want to get ahead in their career. As Jacob Morgan suggests, it has to be a delicate balance between having some stable jobs over the past and staying only short term at some companies when needed. “Job hopping isn’t bad if it’s being done for the right reasons under the right circumstances”, he concludes in his 5-minute video.

In LinkedIn’s latest research where they analyzed the psychology and motivations for recent job switchers, they found career advancement is the first reason people change jobs. Pay is also important: more professionals accept new jobs when offered better compensation and benefits, but it only comes second.

What that means is recruiters should advertise career advancement in their job descriptions to attract top talent. It’s not so much about the job itself but where the job can take the candidate.

While the job hopping trend may actually be the company’s fault and/or a result of a poor employer brand, recruiters are still careful about the reasons why candidates left their previous jobs – and they should be. In any event, employers eager to retain their employees need to answer the following questions: is my company culture attractive enough to retain top talent? Are my job offers relevant and exciting enough for the candidates I selected?

As Dan Finnigan suggests in a Fortune article, some good ways to avoid job hopping would be to:

  • Offer growth opportunities (didn’t we say learning is key to retaining employees?)
  • Keep employees engaged
  • Listen to employee feedback closely

What is your opinion about job hopping? Have you hired job hoppers in the past, or have you job hopped yourself? Let us know about your personal experiences in the comments below.

Author: Chloé Delolme

3 thoughts on “To job hop or not to job hop?

  1. I wish I had known that one of my hires had “job hopped” (less than 1.5 years per job for over 12 years) up front. The e-HR online application did not require every job to be entered (and HR does not verify any of that information) and, silly me, I did not ask during the interview.

    From my observations, the old career advice of “change jobs every 2-3 years to move up the ladder” works for men, but not women who are in the workplace for over 20-30+ years. Can someone do a study on that?

    1. Thank you for your feedback, Pam.
      Did your hire end up leaving the company?
      As a recruiter, what’s your overall opinion on job hopping?
      Sadly, there’s probably gender inequality when it comes to job hopping and career advancement.

    2. I think many HR professionals and managers have stigmatized “job hoppers” as unreliable or unfocused. I believe for certain positions, job hopping is part of the business. I am in the Health and Safety profession and many of my jobs are contracts based upon the length of the project. Many jobs doesn’t mean the candidate is bad or unreliable, it could easily be normal way of doing business. In my field, working on many projects for different companies gives a person much more depth of experience that a long term, one or two job candidate.

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