September 2016

When are job hoppers worth investing in?

when are job hoppers worth investing in

Without a doubt, we are living in the Disposable Age.

If something is broken, we throw it away. Fast food, takeaway coffee, clothing fads – it seems like nothing is meant to last.

In particular, this premise applies to secular life. Many companies haemorrhage staff, and many individuals job hop throughout their career.

“Between 1998 – 2011, young adults held an average of 7.2 jobs between the ages of 18 – 28.” This from a US report issued in April 2016 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Yes, it would seem that having a new job every other year is the norm – but what are the implications?

What does job-hopping mean to employers?

When a hiring manager is scanning through a CV and they note a pattern of job change every 18 months, a red flag pops up.  It has been said that the way to assess the future behaviour of a person is to look at their past. If this is to be believed, then this particular candidate is very likely to only warm a seat in the office for a year or so before moving onto greener pastures.

Job hopping is especially troubling when the individual is pogoing between disparate careers. For example, a couple of years in sales, followed by an admin post, a little graphic design – and then a short spell of dog walking speaks volumes. While they may have had a hugely enjoyable time doing what makes them happy at that particular moment in time, this may be an indication that they lack direction and commitment. Especially if this pattern continues over a long period of time, and not simply after college while they were finding their feet.

Employers can rightly start asking questions about their maturity levels, strength of character, and work ethic.

Staff turnover is a costly business. Therefore, it stands to reason that companies will want to avoid having to run through this process again and again by hiring a job hopper.

Staff turnover costs the company in terms of admin, temp or overtime coverage, advertising and recruitment, training, and severance pay. However, it also impacts in lost expertise, workflow disruptions, stress-related absenteeism, decreased productivity, and reduced morale.

Having said all of the above, companies are made up of people – and one cannot discount the human element. There are many circumstances where a career can be sabotaged by external factors.

Redundancy is a very real problem in today’s economy and indiscriminately affects great employees as well as mediocre ones. Talented women have breaks in their career when they have children. Caring for ailing parents can also impact an individual’s work record, as can relocation, extended illness, or unexpected financial troubles.

Additional factors can include the possibility that they may be a killer sales person but are leaving a small company due to limited (or nonexistent!) growth prospects.  Perhaps they are really talented and shoot up the ranks faster than their company can accommodate them.

And let’s not forget, the impossible boss …

So what happens when you find a supremely talented candidate … who appears to be a job hopper?

The obvious place to start – if we come across someone with a unique skill set, or with an incredible flair or passion – is to dig a little deeper. Asking the right questions in the right way may uncover factors that are difficult to communicate on a CV or that they didn’t think to include.

It may also be that this person can achieve relative success in most environments, but their true talents have never been explored in the right team. This has resulted in them drifting, with a series of jobs instead of a more focused career.

If you knew the honest answers to the following questions, you may reconsider your initial bias toward a job hopper. Ask yourself:

  • What are they really good at?
  • What do they enjoy most about their job?
  • What is important to them in a role/company/industry?
  • What sort of team will they work best with?
  • What management style will they thrive under?
  • Where are they going?
  • What are their long-term career goals? (And do these align with their value system?)

A Harvard University study found that 80% of staff turnover starts in the hiring process. That means that hiring managers, HR and other senior staff involved in bringing on board new talent, need to rethink their hiring strategies.

If you’re churning through staff, then you’re not putting the right people in the right jobs.

Perhaps you’re turning down job hoppers based on a sketchy CV, when these may in fact be a great fit – in the right position.

A key element of successful hiring is to know your current staff inside out. Why do they behave as they do, and what sort of person will work best with them? Therefore, when you’re hiring someone for your team, you know exactly what personality traits you are looking for.

You’ll be able to make a decision based not on how well this candidate sold themselves or how many letters they have after their name, but based on factual evidence of how they are going to do this job.

Removing the emotion and unravelling the innate traits of your staff often requires an outside perspective. Once you have the facts, the hiring process is simplified drastically – and whether the person is a job hopper or not becomes less of an issue to consider.

That’s what we do.

We uncover the fundamental behavioural traits needed to perform, and we help you to make sound hiring, promotion, transfer, exit and succession planning decisions.

Call us on 083 308 7627 or visit and let us help you find the best fit for your firm – with the data to back it up.


Read more →