Should you hire a job hopper? : The pros and cons

Rachel Hill
Rachel Hill

Until a few years back, job hopping was thoroughly frowned upon.

Hiring managers instantly disregarded a resume featuring several short job stints. Nowadays, the idea of job longevity is bordering extinction and employers are slowly changing their outlook towards job hopping.  

So how did the job hopping phenomenon come about? Well, with the rise of Generation Y came a workforce more concerned with job gratification and well being than permanent jobs, pensions and health plans. This so-called ‘Generation Y’ or ‘millennials’ are fiercely leading the way in getting the jobs they want and not settling for anything less.

These job hoppers are roughly switching roles every 1-2 years. However, their reasons for leaving are not due to company closures, but for higher salaries, career growth and travel purposes. This self-confident mindset is slowly replacing notions of climbing the corporate ladder in one company in favour of climbing many different ladders in different companies.

Is this attitude the same in all industries? No, job hopping is less common in areas such as medicine, manufacturing and law where a long term commitment is required for success. Whereas, in areas such as media and IT, job hopping is far more prevalent as the work is often project-based.

So, as a hiring manager, do you like to see a candidate with a large breadth of experience? Or does a job hopper completely turn you off? Let’s evaluate the pros and cons:

Pros

Variety of skills

Job hopping allows employees to harvest a variety of useful and competitive skills (especially those in technology). These candidates can be particularly valuable to your company if you are providing project-based or short term work. While they may leave your company after a short period, they can still provide value. Some of these employees might stay, while others have learned what they need to learn and move on. C’est la vie.

Diversity

When interviewing job hoppers, you will find that they have a more diverse background working for different sized companies. Chances are, job hoppers can give you more examples of challenges and experiences than a standard candidate. This diversity can often bring new ideas to your company as job hoppers see how many others conduct their business.

Risk – takers

Job hoppers are often considered risk-takers, which may be a selling point depending on the type of company you have. Switching jobs regularly means this employee is willing to ‘shop around’ as such and figure out what they like and don’t like, before (eventually) settling down. This attitude shows they are persistent, but also flexible and adaptable workers. These risk-takers would be particularly well-suited to any flexible roles available at your company.

job hopping
Job hoppers are often risk-takers

Cons

High chance of hopping again

If a candidate has jumped from job to job in the past year, there is unfortunately a high chance they will job hop again soon. It is only normal that you are more attracted to employees who have stayed for a considerable period in their previous roles – it demonstrates loyalty and dependability. Also, given the high cost of recruiting, training and hiring a new employee, you want to make sure you hire a loyal person.

Scattered experience

If someone has worked a few months here and a few months there, chances are they don’t have a deep understanding of various companies’ processes. It takes a significant amount of time to acquire certain skills, so job hoppers may not have the expertise you require. Without demonstrable results and accomplishments, it is difficult for you to envisage a job hopper flourishing in your team.

Unsure of life goals

Someone who has moved jobs multiple times may be signalling something deeper: they are unsure of what they want. It is normal that you will doubt their motives and commitment to the job. If however, you feel that the candidate really wants the job, maybe give them a chance. Evaluate whether the job in question is similar to their previous roles and whether it corresponds with their personal career and life aspirations.

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