Job hopping candidates: are they really the risky hire you think they are?


You've found the ideal candidate. They're more than qualified, have the right level of experience, and they even fulfil all of the 'desired but not essential skills' too. Except there's one little thing niggling away at you ... the number of jobs they've burnt through.

But, in spite of the old stigma, should job hopping be seen as such a serious deterrent anymore? We find out why letting them hop on board could actually be a good thing ... 

The job hopping stigma

Stigmas can be difficult to shake. Staying in the same job for many years was the norm back in the day (using the phrase 'back in the day' just aged me 20 years), but with massive employment changes over the last couple of decades, primarily brought about by technological advancement and automation, the world is seeing more people switching jobs than ever before. 

It's typically done by the younger generations, Millennial candidates, as these are the ones most influenced by the technological shifts that promote frequent job changes. For many years, it's been seen in a negative light by many - and can play havoc on a candidate's chances of getting hired. 

Why though?

Well, as the older generations (Baby Boomers and Gen X) tend to be in more senior management positions, they're often the ones in charge of making the hiring decisions. As job hopping traditionally breaks conventions from their earlier experiences of working life, it means that they're more difficult to convince. 

Even if they do leave in the near future, they've resuscitated your entire workforce, so who's the real winner?

Although this is generalising a little, you can see the problem that's existed for a number of years. Older generations tend to condemn job hopping. Younger generations believe it is the best way to further themselves. Suddenly, you got one hell of a recipe for a stigma.

What brought about the job hopping phenomenon?

Job hopping has been in the limelight longer than you might think. Arnold Schwarzenegger has had more jobs than Mr. Universe titles and, you'd have to say, he's made a success of them all. But the bodybuilder-turned-actor-turned-producer-turned-governor-turned-businessman, is admittedly an isolated example of successful career changes.

What is the reality of job hopping for us working class folk with puny biceps?

Generation Y (people born in the late 1980s and 1990s) account for 13.8million of the UK workforce. This generation is generally regarded as the one that brought about job hopping - or at least do it more than previous generations.

Shaped by the technological revolution that occurred during their youth, Gen Y candidates are thought to have lower attention spans and to be driven by money. 

With the monetary gain on offer from changing jobs frequently (up to a 15% pay rise per switch) it makes sense that these candidates like to move around - no matter how much their fathers, who worked a solid 40 years service at the same employer, shake their heads in shame.

But guess what?

Times are changing. Job hopping is becoming more widely acceptable now, as all generations begin to appreciate the advantages that come with it. Still not convinced? See for yourself ...

Why are job hopper candidates valuable to your company?

While job hopper candidates pose that threat of leaving within a couple of years, what they can bring to you (even if it is for the short term) is a number of refreshing skills that might just have a wider impact on your business for the long term.

1. A totally new way of thinking

A company who holds employee loyalty close to their heart will tell you proudly that even their shortest serving member of staff has been there for five years. And while staff retention is great and this longevity of service shows that they're a good company to work for, what does it say about innovation and change?

"We've always done it this way" is an oft quoted phrase, and if you peruse the likes of LinkedIn on a daily basis, you'll be all too aware of why it is a dangerous approach to business.

Nokia failed to adapt to change and it cost them dearly ...

The most famous example of this is Nokia. "We didn't do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost" was the poignant phrase Stephen Elop, Nokia CEO, ended his speech with last year. While they might not have done anything wrong, they didn't do anything different. They sat back and watched the likes of Samsung and Apple roll out smartphones - failing to embrace the change.

And while it's great news that Nokia have been revived and will be releasing phones again soon, their demise stands as a strong lesson for why you should never 'always do it this way'.

A job hopper candidate could be that breath of fresh air your company needs. Offering a totally new perspective, they could be the answer to your stagnating problems - as staff who have been there too long could've grown too close to certain projects and jaded by standard company operation.

Job hoppers can mix things up and show you new and more effective methods of doing things. Methods that will stay, even if they decide to hop along in a year's time.

2. Diverse skill-set

This is perhaps the most obvious attribute a job hopper brings with them. When we say 'skill-set', we don't just mean in qualifications and working experience either. The fact that this candidate has moved around often implies that they possess the ability to adapt quickly to new environments and people. These are great assets to have in certain roles - sales is a good example - as it shows that they have advanced interpersonal and communication skills.

The fact that they might have operated within multiple sectors is also a huge plus. Some sectors overlap quite significantly (construction and engineering, marketing and web design) - so a candidate that has been on both sides of the coin can offer real insight when it comes to troubleshooting and problem-solving.

Job hoppers can bring a wide range of experience to any role.

3. They could inspire a stale team

You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. Yes I did just quote a Batman movie, but this phrase is rather profound and befitting. When people work at the same company for many years, their approach to work could become a little routine. And it's not even their fault, as we are all creatures of habit. 

But routine can be a killer for many companies.

Failing to adopt new technologies, or fulfilling a change in customer demands, can stifle the evolution of a business. A long-term employee won't do this on purpose, but they could be so firmly set into a routine and hardwired to a certain 'way of doing things' that they've become blind to beneficial cultural changes.

A job hopper may well be the whirlwind your staff needs. They could be the inspiration that gives the rest of your team a new lease of life. Even if they do leave in the near future, they've resuscitated your entire workforce, so who's the real winner?

In summary

As an employer, it's up to you to make your own mind up on whether hiring a job hopping candidate is worth taking the risk. Hiring staff is not a cheap process, especially if you're having to do so every two years.

But sometimes candidates with a well-travelled CV need to be given the benefit of the doubt. A checkered work history doesn't always mean low attention span and restlessness and, like we covered above, their experience could be just what your business requires.

If you've hired a job hopper and are wondering how you can keep them happy and loyal, check out our article on staff perks that work!

Written by Jon Clarke

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