It takes time to snag a good hire. You need to craft an apropos listing that not only communicates what you’re looking for and what the job entails, but also sells your company’s brand. You need to work with recruiters and hop on job boards to disseminate that information. Then comes the waiting game. You don’t want to lock down the first candidate you come across, knowing that a better one might not have had the opportunity to consider the job listing yet. So you give it about a month at least, and allow the applications to come streaming in.
Even the process of sifting through cover letters, resumes, portfolios and even background checks takes a while. Start-ups that are scaling up at breakneck speeds tend to make quick, voluminous hires without giving the question of quality a second thought. But you won’t make that mistake. You’re not going to skip your due diligence, oversell your company or make false promises that leave new employees running after their first week. After carefully studying each application, shortlisting the cream of the crop, scheduling, preparing and conducting various rounds of interviews and technical tests, you emerge with a shiny, new employee.
Of course, you’re not done waiting. There’s still contracts to be signed and the notice period for the fresh hire to leave their former employer. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the new kid has been onboarded, ready to serve and commit to your company. Then, under circumstances out of your control, they leave a mere two months later, treating this employment as if it never happened. Again, you’re thrown back into the recruitment process, which has proven to be both time and money consuming.
That’s what a job hopper does. They bounce from company to company, almost willy-nilly, and seem to care little about the consequences of their insouciant tendencies, especially with regard to the companies themselves. There’s no surprise job hoppers are generally loathed by recruiters worldwide. Any candidate that has failed to last more than a year at their at least three of their former stints would be immediately ignored as a prospect.
With the millennial generation’s supposedly short attention span and over-inflated expectations of “making a difference”, job hopping has become more prevalent. Based on last year’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 3.6 million employees had willingly left their jobs at the end of July, amounting to a quits rate (“a measure of workers’ willingness of ability to leave jobs”) of 2.4% — the highest rate since April 2001. Likewise, a study by Experience.com also showed that a staggering 70% of new employees walk out within two years. Resultantly, employers have come to expect such choices.
To ensure a new hire doesn’t go to waste, employers tend to steer clear of these fickle-minded, noncommittal candidates. While it seems like common sense to toss out resumes with a pattern of three-month-long stints, it could also lead to tons of missed opportunities. What if those individuals had genuine reasons for job hopping? What if they’re just waiting for the right fit, the right company to dedicate the rest of their years? What if yours is the company they’ve been looking for? You’ll never know if you don’t give them a chance.
Then again, what is the point of longevity if it’s not helping your company grow? Perhaps instead of hunting down those who will pledge allegiance to you for the remaining decades of their career, you should be zeroing in on the gems that will help you solve problems efficiently and innovate ways to thrive in the era of disruption. Here, you should understand that not all job hoppers are the same. There are those that will hurt you, and those that will help you. It is imperative for you to be able to distinguish between the two.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s got nothing to do with the amount of time one has spent at a company. Someone who quits after a year isn’t necessarily better than someone who quits after three months. What matters are the reasons behind those decisions. In the start-up arena, for instance, young firms often shut down due to business failures and lack of funds. In these cases, it’s likely through no fault of the employee that they were dismissed after a short period of time. In fact, recruiters may favour candidates who have been through such ordeals because it suggests grit, resilience and perseverance in the face of upheavals.
For other job hoppers, they may have left an organisation because they feel there’s nothing more they can offer or receive from the company. These are likely to be individuals who are hungry for knowledge and passionate about honing their skills. Once they’ve absorbed all they can from a company, and there are no prospects for career progression where they are, they’ll jump ship in search for better learning opportunities. It’s possible for these folks to resign after just a few months, if the company isn’t in a good shape or doesn’t add value to the employee’s experience. Although, this might mean that the candidate gives up easily, instead of trying to work out a compromise or solution with their superiors—it differs from case to case.
It sounds like a gamble, but these types of job hoppers are good for your company. They seek professional growth, yet is devoted to bettering and making an impact on the company as well. Goal-oriented and fast-growing, they are high-performing, self-improvement junkies who know exactly what they want out of each stint, be it new skills or professional connections. A tell-tale sign of good job hopper is that they’ve climbed up the corporate ladder with each role, and taken on more complex responsibilities with each leap.
They may jump from industry to industry, but their core concentration remains the same—for example, having worked at an interior design firm, a law firm, a tech start-up, and a marketing agency in the same capacity of a marketing personnel. Besides being able to help push your company to new heights at record speed, these hard workers also learn quickly, are better rounded, more experienced, and more adaptable to new environments.
As for those who are more likely to waste your time, they typically jump ship just for the cash and employee perks. Concerned only about themselves, shallower job hoppers don’t care about learning anything new or contributing to the firm. When questioned about their former stints, all they do is play the blame game, speaking ill of their erstwhile employers, which in general already reflects poorly on their character.
Another obvious red flag is that their past four to five roles were briefly held (about three to six months), and in fields unrelated to each other. In this case, you could be looking at a candidate who hasn’t quite figured out what they want to do for a career. Worse, they could be plain lazy and unreliable. Perhaps they’ll talk a big game and get high on motivation on the first day, but without a proper work ethic or discipline, their drive will fizzle out and lead them to throw in the towel.
If all else fails, ask for references and recommendations from their former employers to ascertain whether you’re dealing with another fair-weather employee or a golden egg in disguise. As long as you’re willing to push aside your biases, you just might find a job hopper that is everything your business needs to get to the next level.