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The “job hopper” label has traditionally held a negative perception, but in today’s workforce, it isn’t necessarily the case. Ninety-one percent of millennial candidates say they expect to stay in a position for just three years or less. New employees often change jobs at rates unheard of by previous generations.

There are some legitimate reasons for serial job hopping. You may want to rethink your approach and leverage your hiring processes to identify talent who may look like “hoppers” on the surface, but will ultimately be the right fit for your business.

Look For a Good Explanation

There are numerous reasons why a candidate may have a lengthy list of previous employers. These include:

  • They were given an inaccurate description of the position when they were hired.
  • A corporate takeover or similar market disruption.
  • Time-related roles such as event management, political campaigns or terms, or temporary, project-related or contractual assignments.
  • Lack of growth opportunities.

A candidate should be able to easily explain each move. As you listen, you may spot patterns that coincide with wider economic or industry trends. If an individual can demonstrate how they were able to make a big impact in a limited amount of time, they may still be an asset to your organization.

How to Assess Job Hopping Behavior

Look for success rates, rather than date ranges, when evaluating candidates. Do not disregard people without knowing the facts. Give them a chance to explain the logic behind each job move they have made. Often times, they made the right choice by accepting another position elsewhere.

  • Review resumes with an eagle eye. Some short-term employment may make sense, but be alert for red flags such as individuals who frequently shift to drastically different industries or roles. These patterns may indicate genuine career confusion or identify someone who needs more challenges than your organization can offer.
  • Ask probing interview questions. Two excellent choices are “Why did you leave your last job?” and “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Candidates with legitimate reasons for leaving a position will be able to readily explain them. The right response to the second inquiry will illustrate a person’s level of long-term commitment to a company. Deep dive until you have the answers you need.
  • Check references. Do this even if a candidate only worked for a company for a short time period. Good references from a handful of previous employers can be more telling than a single report from a long-term supervisor.
  • Use your applicant tracking system. Leverage customized ATS options to incorporate qualitative questions into the process. These may include “How would you describe your biggest successes in your last three positions?” or “How did you adapt to different workplace environments in your previous roles?” Your ATS can also make reference checks easier, as you employ automated, prewritten emails, track replies, and store feedback.

The professional recruiters at BrainWorks can read between the lines on resumes and help you pinpoint the best talent the first time around. With our vast contact networks and extensive industry knowledge, we’ll help you source candidates you can’t find on your own. Contact us today to learn more.


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