Hiring Job Hoppers

According to the Bureau of Labor (US) Statistics, the median employee tenure for workers aged 25-34 in 2014 was three years. “Every job is temporary” seems to be the career motto for some professionals, who frequently change jobs, and marked as job hoppers.

What exactly is job-hopping, and why do people do so? Job-hopping is defined as moving from one company to another every few years, for reasons other than a lay-off or company closure. It is the new ‘normal’ for millennials who deeply value learning and development from employers. They probably seek for different prospects as they have not gained the types of developmental opportunities required from previous employment(s).

Traditionally, employers have avoided job-hopping candidates on the basis that ‘past performance predicts future behaviour’. Businesses look for potentially committed talents who will help them to achieve short and long-term goals.

Hiring managers of yesterday were wary of resumes loaded with short job stints as they reflect the loyalty of an employee. Employers and recruiters are beginning to have a different outlook on job hopping.

In today’s volatile talent marketplace, automatically rejecting frequent job hoppers may cause you to miss out on exceptional hires.

While job hopping may have a negative connotation, it might also be about a talent providing value to a company to a point where there is nothing more to gain. Take a technologist for example; in order to continuously upgrade his skills, he must remain current in a highly competitive market.

Job hopping is more common among employees who are less tenured, confident with their skills to be able to move on without burning a bridge and can add immediate value to another organisation.

Gone are the days of an employee serving the same company for 20-30 years, receiving long service award and retiring into the sunset. Attracting and retaining talent is challenging enough in today’s market, without the cost of a short tenure. Hiring a job hopper can offer some benefits to your company, such as:

  • They have a broader perspective of challenges, and are able to adapt well to different cultures and ideas.
  • They potentially have an impressive network of contacts that will offer a whole new network of resources to your company
  • Within the same industry, they bring knowledge of your competitors
  • They are not generally complacent; and their accomplishments may often justify their salaries
  • Job hoppers continually hone their skills

In Singapore and Malaysia, the process of hiring seems to focus on salary and benefits; because at the end of the day, money matters. A survey by Monroe Consulting Group Malaysia has found that 44% of middle to senior level employees rated the current job market as strong or very strong, while 37% rated the market as moderate. This optimism may be a driver for job hoppers in search of greater salaries.

On the other hand, companies were increasingly making use of extended resignation periods to discourage job hoppers and were making counter offers to retain executives. This is because hiring talents for short term tenure – taking into consideration of the training process, business productivity, external exposure of intellectual properties – can actually cost between 40-80% of annual business income.

The counter offers however, tend to make insignificant difference, with 23% of respondents resigning within six months anyway. As a business owner, how would you approach a candidate with a long list of short term employment? How can you find a good match?

Find out the reasons why they’d like to leave their present employment

Ask for their career targets: Based on their response, assess if the company can help them get to where they aim to be.

Be honest about your company’s culture: Some companies have work-life balance, others don’t. Some companies are more academic-oriented, others aren’t. By being transparent, a candidate will have a better understanding of whether they will be a good fit.

Be honest about the type of candidate you need: Go into details and seek for feedback. This way, both parties will be able to assess whether or not it is a good match.

Hiring managers must now accept the idea that short term employment can have an impact on productivity.

Organisational productivity could possibly improve between 5 and 10 years, after which, its performance and an employee’s ROI have a significant probability of declining. Instead of generalising, capitalise on the strength of the candidate for your business growth.

Each individual should be judged and hired based on their merits, taking into account the changes in the employment market. However, the final decision should of course be influenced by the needs of your business.