At the height of the Great Recession, US workers were thankful to have jobs – and held onto them for dear life.

What a difference a few years makes!

In today’s market, it’s not unusual to encounter candidates who change jobs frequently. But is regular job-change a sign of ambition – or is it just a sign that your candidate can’t cut it?

Let’s sort this out.

Dr. John Sullivan, a leading HR and recruiting expert, recently published a great post on why rejecting “job jumpers” can potentially lead to missed hiring opportunities. Here are a few of the reasons he lists to support his position:

  • Job jumping is becoming the norm. In fact, average job tenure in the US is down to 4.6 years, and 45% of employers expect new college grads to work for them for less than two years (CareerBuilder). Even more disturbing is the fact that high achievers leave their employers after an average of 28 months.
  • Job jumping is becoming more acceptable. The majority of employers (55%) have hired a job hopper and 32% have come to expect individuals to frequently change jobs (CareerBuilder).

The candidate market is tight. Job-changing no longer carries the stigma it once used to. And lots of your competitors are hiring job hoppers.

The question remains: Should you? Here are a few reasons to give them a second look – and not automatically send out those rejection letters:

  • They may be quicker to adapt. Individuals who have changed jobs frequently may be better able to assimilate to new work environments.
  • They may have insider knowledge. Having worked for your competitors, or other types of employers in your industry, they may have extensive resources and a great network of contacts for you to leverage.
  • They are likely to be high performers. Top performers are comfortable with change and will take calculated risks (including changing employers) to advance their career. Look for a logical job progression, if an otherwise qualified candidate appears to be a job hopper.

The moral of this story? Be careful not to judge a candidate based primarily on the number of jobs he’s held or his average job tenure. Instead of making a “knee jerk” reaction, consider:

  • The employment market – How scarce or plentiful are workers? If good people are hard to find, opportunities are likely to be plentiful – and voluntary turnover may be higher.
  • Potentially positive reasons for job change – Has the candidate changed jobs to further his career? Career-hopping is a definite red flag, but taking positions of increasing responsibility is a sign of growth and ambition.

Want to know if that candidate will really thrive long-term in your organization?

Trust your Carlisle employment agency to handle screening for you. We meet with candidates to determine why they switched jobs in the past – and whether or not they’ll stick with you. Contact your local Berks & Beyond office to learn more about our direct hire services.

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