Gone are the days of lifetime employees. Single-company employees are less common today, with the notion of being in one company for their entire career being less favoured.
According to recruitment agency Robert Half, job hopping is defined as someone who has made four job changes or more within 10 years.
From the employees’ point of view, job hopping can benefit them too – higher salary progression, gaining more diverse experience, upskilling themselves and a larger network. That sheds some light on what motivates job hoppers to do so.
But the question remains, you have a serial job hopper applying for one of your positions. Should you hire him or her?
Take these steps before deciding whether to hire a potential job hopper.
#1 Scrutinise Their Resumes
Job hoppers get a bad rep.
Have a 30-year-old candidate with a history of 6 jobs? Your first instinct might be to assume such applicants will be unreliable and disloyal employees.
If you have hundreds of resumes to look through and want a fast way to filter out candidates, by all means, disregard the job hoppers.
But if the candidate seems promising save for the frequent job switches, first, have a closer look at their resume.
Look into the past companies and positions that the applicant has been in.
Do they show a growth trajectory? More than one third of Singaporeans left their jobs due to a lack of learning and development opportunities. Analyse the applicant’s job changes. If each switch is a move up to a more prestigious company or a promotional opportunity, it suggests that the applicant is focused on career growth.
Are they career switchers? If it’s just one career switch seen on their resume–perhaps from banking to healthcare – then that could be overlooked. But if you are seen multiple career changes, it might suggest that the applicant is still unsure of what they want to do.
There’s no hard and fast rules about this, ultimately, it depends on your judgement. If you see potential in this applicant, invite them over for an interview. Ask for an explanation for their career switches. From their response, gauge if they are passionate about their career change.
#2 Consider The Type Of Employees Your Company Needs
Yes, it’s common to think that job hoppers would leave at the drop of a hat when their next opportunity comes knocking.
So the question to ask is, do you really need a long-term employee? Most developers, for example, have project-based responsibilities with an estimated start and end date. If you only need someone to build a platform, then must you a developer who will stick around for long?
Yes, loyal employees are great assets to the team. But what does loyalty mean to you?
Working in the company for ten years?
That might not necessarily mean that they are loyal too, as it doesn’t necessarily mean they support the company’s ethos or growth goals. Instead, you want loyal employees who believe in the success of your company.
Loyalty is not about the length of employment.
So, as much as employee loyalty is crucial, it is not accurately reflected by the number of years an employee works with the company. Which makes the thought of hiring a job hopper less worrying because a short tenure at your company doesn’t necessarily mean a less loyal employee.
If you are looking for a candidate to invest and groom, job hoppers are not what you are looking for.
#3 Invite The Candidate For An Interview Before Assuming Anything
It’s hard to deduce one’s personality from a resume. There can be many reasons for leaving jobs. So if you have analysed almost everything you can get your hands on about the candidate, it’s time to invite them for an interview.
Ask about their job switches: why did they leave the previous position and what they are looking for the next job? Does the candidate sound negative or sour when describing about their past job experiences? Watch out for complaints.
Ask about their career passions and goals. Are they aligned with what’s reflected on their resume, and what your company can offer? If so, then they might be a suitable candidate despite their track record.
If you still have some doubts after the interview, you can either (obviously) reject the candidate or do a reference check.
Hiring can be costly. So if you have limited resources, you’ll want to channel it to a pool of great candidates instead of considering job hoppers.
But if you are looking to fill an urgent position or have a gut feeling about this candidate you can’t shake off, there’s one final step you can take.
#4 Do A Reference Check
Trust, but verify. Ask for references from the candidate and talk to them. It is not necessary, but helps you to make well-rounded decisions before hiring a job hopper.
Reference checks are often done in the last stage of the interview. But if you are dealing with a job hopper, it doesn’t hurt to proceed with a reference check before the interview. Be sure to get your applicant’s permission before doing so.
The quality of references provided can being telling too. Are the references recent? Are they references from former bosses or co-workers?
If the applicant provides dated references, skipping its newer workplace or projects, or if only co-workers were given, you might want to press for more relevant references.
Still, reference checks are hardly the panacea for your hiring doubts. It should be seen as a means to an end, especially since it can take up a lot of time and effort.
Plus, there’s no guarantee that the reference is speaking the truth. The way you question the reference is important too, as it frames their responses. If you show scepticism or negativity toward the applicant, you might even force the reference to clam up out of loyalty.
It’s A Two-Way Street
A bad hire can be a costly mistake. That explains why we can be so unforgiving to job hoppers. Employers prefer staff who would stick around instead of hiring a job hopper who potentially worsens the company’s turnover rate.
But loyalty goes both ways. Is your company vested in employee loyalty? Investing in employee training and focusing on employee welfare are examples of ways that you can retain staff.
Who knows? Building employee loyalty might even attract a greater pool of applicants such that you don’t have to fuss about hiring a job hopper at all.
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