Woman walking on posts in park


In your experience dealing with recruitment, no doubt you will have encountered job hoppers – the applicants who have a long string of employers, all lasting anywhere less than two years. What is your knee-jerk reaction to this? Chances are, you are put off by this display of a lack of commitment, perhaps dismissing the applicant as lacking loyalty, commitment and drive. You may mentally credit them with costing companies money in terms of investment in them as an employee, which would hardly make for an attractive hire choice.

Viewed with Suspicion

Traditionally, job hoppers are viewed with suspicion, or dismissed without a second thought – after all, the last thing any HR Manager wants to do is invest months worth of training into a new employee, only to have them need to be replaced after another 6 months.

This kind of career restlessness could also highlight an inability to ‘stick it out’ when things get tough and any employer knows that the last time you want your employees skipping out is when the proverbial hits the fan.

From this angle, job hoppers appear undesirable and undeserving – the further we delve in, the more we see this. For instance, if there is a wide range of industries involved during their employment history, this could be viewed as indecisiveness on the part of the employee, which, while understandable on occasion, should really be something that most desirable employees have under control. Right?

Well, maybe.

What if these assumptions were skewing your view of what you believe to be ‘a desirable employee’? What if, by skipping over anyone with a ‘fragmented’ resume, you were missing out on the talent, creativity or personality your business would most benefit from.

Times have changed.

Where once people would enter the career ladder as a graduate and climb all the way to the top with that one company, now they tend to have a more ‘snakes and ladders’ approach to career building, helped along by the wavering economy, fluctuating job market and access to mass amounts of information and learning.

The younger generations, entering a far less stable working life than their predecessors, are adapting and adjusting accordingly, because while loyalty is still a highly valued attribute, this does nothing to prevent redundancy or quell someone’s financial needs.

This means that as we move into the future, doubtless we will encounter more and more ‘unreliable’ job hoppers, who in fact have simply been trying to keep their head above water. A recent survey highlights this shift, with over half of the respondents having been employed in their current job for less than 18 months, and this is reported to be occurring across the board from low wage earners through to those on 250k+ salaries. Clearly, change is in the air.

So what to do?

So how do you ensure you are still making a good hire, when faced with this reality?

Sorry, but there’s no shortcut to getting around this one. The answer, of course, is to take these applicants on a case by case basis. If a flag gets raised over the number of jobs a person has been through in a certain time period, but in all other respects are a desirable candidate; it pays to investigate further.

For example, university students will often go through different jobs at different stages of their degree and have different criteria in terms of job selection i.e. ‘will it fit with my timetable’? This could result in a different job each year of their degree, perhaps even more so if they pick up full-time work over the summer break.

Other things to keep in mind include whether someone had to move cities, whether there were several part time roles that overlapped, if they were on contracts for any of this work or any other number of valid reasons for job changes – it pays to ask WHY each job was left, and even to bluntly question them over their changeable history. Listen to their reasoning and question anything you have doubts about.

The Proof is in the Pudding

In case you are still having reservations about changing your approach, perhaps this will dissuade you. Evolv performed a study on over 20,000 employees which showed little to no differentiation between employees who had held many jobs over the past five years and those who had held none.

The study also indicated there was more of a correlation between employee integration i.e. whether new employees were ‘welcomed into the fold’ or not, than to any kind of historic job hopping.

So perhaps instead of worrying about how many jobs your applicant has had over the last however many years, you should just focus more on how they would fit into the company culture and what they can do for you.