Good Hire defines a job hopper as “a candidate who jumps or hops from job-to-job and has short stints with several employers [and] those short stints are defined as spending one to two years at each job, but some classify job hoppers as people who spend less than five years with the same company”. Some may even consider employees who lose their jobs from company restructurings or insolvencies to be job hoppers—particularly in industries prone to higher failures such as tech.
With employers often thinking of their employees as investments, it’s not unfair to view job hoppers as a bad investment. New employees are a costly endeavour, with LinkedIn research showing that it can take upwards of $3000 just to onboard each new employee. Research also shows that “it can take between three to eight months for employees to become fully productive.”
If loyalty is important to your organization—like it is to most—job hopping might seem like a red flag.
Job hopping, of course, isn’t about loyalty. Job hoppers are simply searching for a better fit, whether that means compensation, culture, or opportunities for growth.
Research has shown that millennials in particular are frequent job hoppers, with 49% of millennials saying that they’re “willing to quit their jobs within two years if they are unhappy, under-compensated, and have little-to-no career advancement or professional development opportunities”. Additionally, 75% of millennials believe that changing jobs frequently has helped them advance their careers.
Ultimately, it’s up to the hiring manager to determine whether short tenures at different jobs will impact the employee’s ability to do the role they’re applying for. The best course of action? Ask the job candidate to explain their resume a bit more in-depth and address any concerns you may have directly with them during the interview. Their response should provide the insight you need to decide if their job hopping may be an issue in the future.
If you’re really concerned about job hoppers in your organization, you should evaluate what you’re doing to retain employees. Do you offer competitive compensation and benefits? Are you offering opportunities for advancement and development? How is your diversity? There’s nothing you can do to force someone to enjoy the work or fit in if they just don’t, so they may naturally “hop away” regardless, but it’s always a good starting point to address any concerns your current employees may have.
While job hoppers used to be viewed quite negatively, hiring one (or at least giving them a chance at interviewing) may be more reward than risk.
Zapier writes that job hopping is “becoming fairly standard—and even common practice—among Gen Z'ers who leverage the high demand for employees to earn a better living and develop new skills”. Job hoppers are likely learning a lot in their short stays with different companies—particularly if they're working across a variety of different industries.
Additionally, each company presents a new way of doing business—different policies, procedures, and personalities to contend with. Working for a wide range of organizations likely means that a job-hopping candidate is quick to adapt, and also confident when it comes to their skills and decisive regarding their needs as an employee.
Adaptability, confidence, and decisiveness are the biggest positive aspects of job hoppers. They’re willing to explore a variety of different options, but also aren’t going to stick it out if a job just isn’t a good fit. They know what they want—and especially what they don’t want—and likely won’t waste their time or yours.