Job hopping

A young recruiter posted this rant on LinkedIn:

I’m a recruiter. But I don’t judge my candidates based on their length of employment on each company they worked with. Candidates seem like job hoppers if they frequently change jobs, but I see them beyond being job hoppers. Each employment have their own stories. Each candidates have their own passion and strength. You will never know what will happen on your job until you’re in it every day. I’m happy to hire a candidate as long as he performed excellently in interview. I believe each new joiner will bring a new change in company. I am Gen-Y and I hate traditional recruitment mind-set.

A gentleman replied:

Job hoppers are a problem for hiring managers and teams – they are not team oriented and tread a ‘greedy’ path of ‘growing bucks’ instead of steady state and investing in a Career. DO not agree at all – I hate this Gen Y recruitment mindset.

In this post I would like to counter this huge generalisation with one or two of my own, and hopefully we can land somewhere in the middle, where the reality lies.

Great talent often “job hops” because of the sheer amount of companies with a culture of mediocrity, and the lack of companies with a culture of excellence.

High performers get bored because their talent is not anywhere near utilised in the majority of organisations in which they are likely to end up.

They get frustrated because their ideas are continually ignored.

They get bemused by the baffling decisions made by senior management without involving the folks who will be affected most by the decisions.

They get tired of management constantly harping on about their teams needing to be “more efficient”, or “delivering what they committed to”, or being “lazy”.

What of the folks who don’t “job hop”?

Often those who stay with companies for years and years are folks who are so comfortable they should be coming to the office wearing slippers.

They see no need to stretch their capabilities. They will never challenge the status quo. They will dutifully “do their job” every day, without ever really learning or improving new techniques or approaches. They are lacking ambition.

Perhaps. I’m generalising, right?

My message to the gentleman who responded to the recruiter is:

Instead of judging folks who “job hop”, let’s start judging potential candidates by what really matters. Mindset, attitude. Ability to do the job required. Humility. Kindness. Joy. Passion. Curiosity. A desire for better.

The person you are looking for – the “right” person – might well be a “job hopper”. Maybe they simply haven’t found the “right” employer up to now?

In order to accommodate the “right” person we are bringing in to our company, let’s make damn sure our workplace is one where that person wants to stay.

Perhaps then there won’t be so much “job hopping” to worry about.

7 thoughts on “Job hopping”

  1. Hi Neil,
    I’ve recently considered myself a “hopper” and for similar reasons you described above. Life is too short to have your working life spent somewhere that is not fulfilling, nor where you feel you can’t make a difference. Hopping to a new role saves your spirit as well as that of your employer’s!


  2. I think I agree in principle (i.e. as a context/example free discussion), particularly with your summary.

    And one of the joys of being a consultant is indulging a low-boredom threshold, learning from many contexts without penalty.

    And of course, there is a point beyond which you realise that you’ve essentially been mis-sold, or that your environment is no longer tolerable because either it’s changed or you have.

    And it’s easier to do this at the start of a career, as you try on different versions of the work in progress that is you.

    What I worry about though is whether a person has the patience to work at hard problems, and form relationships with superficially difficult people or those whose context and perspective is different from yours. And every change is a disruption to the organisational dynamics. This is particularly true in more senior roles with wider span of influence – achieving most worthwhile things simple takes time and effort. So if I’m recruiting into these roles, I’m carefully weighing risk and benefit, looking for evidence that you’re going to stick around long enough to deliver return on the disruption impact of bringing you in.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Martin. With you 100% 🙂

      I myself have been wary of “job hoppers” when interviewing, even though I’ve been described as one myself.

      When probing, you learn about the attitude of the person, and here is where it gets important for me. What is the person motivated by? A more lucrative gig, or the opportunity to grow as an individual? Do they move on from companies because it’s getting too tough, or because it’s no tough enough?

  3. What I like about this is hypocrisy, most companies goals are trying increase profits as guided by upper management . And yet an employee trying to do this a moral “no no” to them?

    1. Thanks for your comments Alistair. Can you help me understand what you mean? Who’s being hypocritical or saying that an employee shouldn’t help a company make profit?

  4. As I said on my original comments on the update:
    There are many factor when selecting a candidate that has been through multiple jobs, you also need to think of it from a client’s point of view. If a candidate continually moves from job to job and the company pay a large amount of a success fee and the candidate is showing no commitment to the company, It can be off putting. Why would they pay $$$$ for the candidate to leave in 4 months? Not including the time and money spent on training. My advice is to investigate the reasons for the changes and focus on what the candidate needs from a role to be fully engaged for a longer term and not just fill the role and get commission. Valid reason can be included on a CV and will not be judged – For me, it is hearing the candidates story and what they need to succeed in their next role to stick around.

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