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Why You Shouldn't Write Off Job Hoppers in the Hiring Process

February 1, 2018

job hoppers in the hiring processAs a recruiter, HR pro, or hiring manager, you're sent resume after resume, day after day, with the goal of finding the best of the best. Sifting through piles (or...files) of resumes can be daunting. To make reasonably quick decisions, you may rely on some quick screening tools: red flags. Some of these red flags may warrant some concern (like spelling errors, which can indicate a lack of attention to detail), but there is one red flag I think hiring managers should reconsider: the dreaded job hopper.

Job hopping has become a more visible problem lately because it’s been linked to the bad reputations of millennials. Companies may be screening out awesome candidates simply because they’ve hopped to and from a few jobs. Well, I’m here to tell you why you should consider giving job hoppers a chance!

Why "they" say job hoppers are a concern

A job hopper has short stints (usually less than 2 years) with an organization, raising an alarm for employers because they assume that they won’t stay long with them either. Their concerns are real – when a new hire turns over, a lot of money and time is wasted. The cost of losing an employee is estimated to range from thousands of dollars to up to two times the employee’s annual salary, according to Deloitte. (Think: recruiting, onboarding, and training along with the negative image caused by high turnover.)

The biggest mistake that organizations make is assuming that the specific reasons why job hoppers turn over are  that they are impulsive, lack adaptability or have low work ethic. The concept of turnover is much more complex than just how individual factors or personality can affect turnover. Read more: Turnover Reduction: A Complex but Achievable Goal.

The three main categories of turnover drivers:

  1. Individual: These are traits that employees possess that make them more likely or less likely to turn over. These traits include things like impulsivity, adaptability, self-esteem, and how well they fit within the organization’s culture and environment.

  2. Internal: These are factors within the organization that lead to individual’s intentions to leave. These are things like pay, benefits, opportunities for advancement and growth, leadership, the working environment, job design, workload, flexibility, and the organization's culture.

  3. External: These are factors that are outside of the organization. These are things like the local unemployment rate, competitors in the industry, and organizational reputation.

Connect the dots

You can see that assuming a perceived job hopper would not stay with YOUR organization is not foolproof. Yes, it's possible that they may be impulsive and not willing to stay with your organization, but you can’t know that until you go beyond the resume. A short employee assessment would do the trick in providing additional essential information to determine if they would be a good fit for your organization. Perhaps these job hoppers just weren't a good fit with their prior organizations, which ultimately falls onto the hiring organization. Sure, the candidate had the basic qualifications and knowledge, but was she or he a good fit culturally? Maybe their previous organization had a bad reputation...or maybe they had a terrible boss. Maybe these individuals held on for as long as possible, but drivers outside of their control forced them to leave.

So, I'm saying give them a chance! Find out if they are a fit for YOUR organization or position. Remember that turnover is not that simple; there are many reasons someone might hop from job to job and those reasons might not be a disqualifier for your organization.

Ensure that you're hiring the best employees (but also those who will stick around)

  • Use pre-screening tools such as phone interviews and validated pre-screening assessments to identify personality characteristics and job fit factors.

  • Ask yourself some questions about your organization. Are there factors that could cause higher turnover based on the three main drivers of turnover? Ask yourself the following questions:

    • Are we competitive in pay compared to other organizations?

    • Do we use assessment tools to evaluate motivational fit?

    • Do we offer job flexibility or other opportunities for work-life balance?

    • Are there issues with leadership?

    • Do we provide training and development opportunities?

I certainly am not saying that all job hoppers are missed opportunities. There will always be bad seeds in the mix. My goal is to ensure that organizations understand the importance of looking at the whole picture before making an uninformed decision in the hiring process that could have significant costs.

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Jessica Petor Jessica Petor is a Research Analyst located at PSI's Pittsburgh office. She holds a Master's of Science degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology from Northern Kentucky University.