Want a Job? You Can Commit a Crime — Just Don’t Job-Hop

You might remember that post back in April with interesting data about job-hoppers. Dan Enthoven argued that there is “zero correlation between the number of positions employees have had in the recent past and how long they’ll last on their next job. A candidate who’s had five jobs in five years is no more likely to quit than someone who’s had one job for five years.”

Apparently, employers aren’t yet convinced, says a new survey from Bullhorn.

The recruiting-software company’s survey of 1,500 hiring managers and recruiters (in-house but mainly agency recruiters) shows that 39 percent of recruiters say “the single biggest obstacle for an unemployed candidate in regaining employment is having a history of ‘hopping jobs,’ or leaving a company before one year of tenure.”

Fewer — 31 percent — say that being out of work for more than a year is the greatest challenge. Gaps in employment history came in third at 28 percent.

One variable is how long you’ve been unemployed.

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Recruiters and managers say that after about six months to a year, it becomes difficult for a recruiter to place someone. Under six months, it’s not as bad.

Interestingly, and sadly, Bullhorn finds that “that it’s easier for recruiters to place someone with a criminal record (non-felony) in a new job than it is to place someone who has been unemployed for two years.”


16 Comments on “Want a Job? You Can Commit a Crime — Just Don’t Job-Hop

  1. There is really a bias against so called job hoppers. To me – a resume is just a piece of paper – I like to find out the specific reasons why someone left a role. What really amazes me is with today’s economic climate – hiring managers don’t ‘get it’ that more people are being downsized due to no fault of their own. I’ve tried explaining with concrete data – nope – he/she has a track record of leaving jobs – they will do it here.

  2. Biases are dangerous and we all have them. Facts are much less dangerous – although people can badly interpret facts, too. What predicts success in a job? Lack of job-hopping? Absence of criminal record? Don’t guess about these things. There are facts, data, truth. If recruiters would use the facts and avoid biases (like ‘don’t hire job-hoppers’) the pitiful performance of recruitment in hiring the right person could be reversed. Why don’t you write more – even only – about the facts and assessments that actually, reliably, say what predicts performance and therefore what we should rely on? I see way too little of this.

  3. The problem is they think they’re taking a ‘scientific’, data driven approach without actually bothering to validate the cause/effect relationship they’re assuming exists. So in effect holding ‘job hopping’ against someone for purposes of making a good hire makes about as much sense as dancing to make it rain. At least on a certain level.

    The problem with the linked article which sites the Evolv results is that it’s not broken down by employment/career level. Job hopping may be a bigger deal the further up the corporate ladder you go. What happens in call centers is not necessarily informative of what will happen at higher levels or in different environments where turnover is much lower to begin with. There could be a healthy amount of pre selection of groups for favorable results here.

    However that still doesn’t mean job hopping is bad at any level, it just means we’d need more comprehensive data to figure out where it may or may not be a valid concern. I would also see some concerns as to the low number of actual job hoppers included in the Evolv study. When you read it you see a very small percentage of people actually were job hoppers by their own definition. To get a more conclusive study it would be interesting to see roughly equal numbers of hoppers to non hoppers compared. I’d also want a stricter definition of what a ‘hopper’ is applied, as I don’t think it was even done in this study. Holding ‘many’ jobs in the last 5 years is subjective.

    In the end it’s still something we have to account for as recruiters. If someone has a ‘hopper’ history but every company they worked for went bust in a recession, or moved operations offshore soon after they joined, I’d hold that as a lot less relevant than if they left/got fired from the same amount of companies. The real question is what defines successful hires for your company/client, not what is the best way to cover your ass and not make a bad hire.

  4. Interesting article. I always try to convince hiring managers and even my own HR team that job hopping in today’s market shouldn’t be seen right away as a detriment. I also tell them to hire people with the expectation that they will be there 2-3 years and anything beyond that is gravy so to speak. When employers started “resizing” constantly and eliminated retiree benefits, they opened the door for employees to continually shop around for their next opportunities.

  5. “Job-hopping” is a two-way street where quite often the cause is poor matching of the individual to the position/environment/culture/team, etc. If the previous employer hired a square peg, only to pound that individual into a round hole, how much of the blame can be attributed to the individual? That very same individual would likely thrive in an environment more in tune with his/her personality and needs.

    The intelligent leveraging of a validated and normed personality assessment tool can significantly reduce the likelihood of an employee leaving after a short tenure and mitigate the negative results engendered by overconcern with hiring the apparent “job-hopper.”

  6. This is an interesting article, however, under the guise of ” scientific data ” there is a guise of assumptions and unanswered questions that it becomes a rather meaningless piece of data.

    I work in professional ICT recruitment and employers have similar bias. Here are some questions to consider :

    – Job Hopping and Redundancy, Down sizing and Restructuring are two different issues and should not be confused as the same issue.
    Job Hopping is an indivual responsibility – Redundancy is an organisational responsibility.
    – Job Hoppers are probably best suited to temporary or contract employment rather than permanent employment.
    -Resignmation and Exit Interviews – is thjere complete honesty between both parties involved? Is this undertaken by an independant party or undertaken in house ( with obvious bias )
    – Do candidates consider the cost of training and investment that employers are required to spend to get staff up to speed.
    -Do employers wait and take time to select ” the Right Employye” ? Or are they just employing somoent to sit at a desk or man a station due to a resignation and the need to fill that place within the team?
    – Are candidates selective about the type of opportunity they accept or are they just wanting a job? In my 25 years experience both candidates and employers fail baddly around this criteria.
    – what is the level of assesment required to fill requirement?
    – in order to retain good staff a company needs to challenge, develop and grow an individual.
    – employees also need to start understanding that job hopping does not inspire confidence in the employer and poses a larger risk to the company when assessing the individual.

    There is always likely to be bias involved as this is just human nature, the trick is to realise when the bias is getting in the way of selecting good applicants.

    Our role as recruiters is to advocate on behalf of good candidates and to educate those candidates about the perceptions in the market around there job hopping behaviours.

  7. Job-hopping can be attributed as much to company culture as it can to any perceived flaw in the candidate. You want people to stay with you? Be honest up front about what it is that you are offering and expecting from the candidate. When he or she has to find out just how different your promises are from the reality of the job; do you really expect perception or biases to make that person remain with you regardless of what he or she has to put up with? Human resources are not computers, desks, chairs or filing cabinets; and we are surely not trained seals. If the “market” does not understand this, then it must be filled with less than adequate Human Resources Management professionals.

  8. Criminal records..It might be a good idea to show remorse. Attempt to convince interviewers that you made a mistake you now regret and are no longer the person described in your criminal record. Stay relaxed, be confident, and steer the interview toward the positives of your life as it is now.

  9. Interesting information! While some wariness makes sense when it come to job hoppers, in today’s economy there are a variety of reasons candidates might be out of work or jumped from job to job. It’s possible a company was downsized or moved to a different location. This is why it’s important to get beyond the resume and ask a candidate for specifics in the video interview or in person meeting. If you jump to conclusions you might be missing out on a great candidate.

  10. Francisco,

    The honesty part is crucial, and that in my experience is where corporate recruiters excel and agency recruiters fall short. But if you look at how agencies are often structured, the ‘recruiter’s are also the sales force as well, so it’s no surprise that sometimes they may be less than honest about the job. Likewise from the company side, if they’re not too proud of, or not honest about, the culture they’ve built, they’re likely to be ‘selling’ the wrong position to the wrong person. And unfortunately since the balance of power is almost terminally in favor of employers for various reasons, the candidates/employees eat it on these issues.

  11. Thank you for this important article. This is an issue I face daily as the owner of an executive career management and recruiting firm. Clients come to us for our resume writing services largely due to the top 3 issues the study pointed out- a history of job hopping, being out of work for an extensive period of time or gaps in their work history. Unfortunately, biases and preconceived notions are hard to overcome and job seekers know this. Luckily, as an experienced career management firm we know this and have experience helping them create impressive resumes that reflect their skills and experience, rather than the holes.

    Many of the holes in a resume are easily explained- time off to have a family, downsizing, etc. However, getting through the resume review process and getting in front of a hiring manager to explain those holes is often the challenge. Although we have many solutions to these problems, the best way to deal with this is to have a very specific resume written for a specific job. When you know the parameters of a job, you can clearly articulate whether or not your experience will meet the requirements. If so, than highlighting your experience that is job-specific will overshadow gaps or an extensive period of time out of work.

    Hiring a professional with experience in both resume writing, job placement and working with hiring managers can do wonders for creating your best resume.
    Ken Schmitt

  12. @Paul: you ‘re right on target. We all have inherent biases, and they dominate/control our “rational” thoughts- that’s the premise of Behavioral Recruiting- understanding how people really are, as opposed to how we’d like them to be, and incorporate that knowledge into more effective hiring…. That being said, remember that hiring and much else in the real world is ruled by the GAFI Principles: Greed, Arrogance, Fear, and Ignorance/Incompetence of the people in charge. A company wouldn’t sensibly let a founder, CXO, or sr. executive arbitrarily decide how to obey the law or balance the books, why do companies allow these same people to arbitrarily decide how to hire, often against proven best practices? Fundamentally, if best practices were suddenly implemented throughout most companies, a large proportion of people in recruiting would no longer be needed, because recruiting THRIVES on the inefficiencies and imperfections of the status quo….



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