Should You Hire Job Hoppers? A Guide For Hiring Managers

“Steph, I’m not sure why you’ve sent me this candidate’s CV.  He looks like a job hopper.  You know we don’t want a job hopper.”

This is a conversation I’ve had with clients many times over the years.  As my clients get to know me they will hopefully begin to realise that I will never send them the CV of someone that I believe to be simply a job hopper that’s going to leave after 6 months costing them lots of money – I wouldn’t do that.  There’s no point, it will just sour their relationship with me and Blues Point.

So why would I send a CV to my client of someone that looks like a job hopper?

Well, that’s because I’ve spoken to the candidate, and made the evaluation that they have sound reasons for changing jobs, and that given the right role, they will not be in a hurry to move again.  And further, I believe this is that role.

It takes a lot of quite probing conversations to get to this point, and many candidates won’t make the cut.  But if I’ve sent the candidate’s CV to my client, I believe they are worthy of consideration.

Why Do Clients Hate Job Hoppers?

Well, they don’t trust that they will stay in the role for long.  They feel like they will leave when the going gets tough.  Our clients want to see evidence that the candidate can progress within a role.  And they are distrustful of flimsy reasons for changing jobs.

Recruitment costs money, and the cost of a bad hire is more than just financial, so a job hopper represents a potential risk.

A Job For Life?

Perhaps a bit of context is needed here – the old ‘job for life’ doesn’t really exist anymore, and I think sometimes hiring managers that have worked their way up through the ranks of a company don’t understand why someone would change jobs repeatedly at the beginning of their careers, but in fact there’s lots of reasons why people do.

There are so many opportunities available for young people in IT these days, but sometimes it takes a while to find an environment that actually suits you – some of us love working in a big team for a massive company, or perhaps feel comfortable in a very corporate environment, but others will try this and decide it’s not for them.

Some of us will follow a structured career path where they know what the next step on the career ladder will be for them and when it will happen. Whereas others might join an organisation that lacks structure and carve out a career for themselves.

Personally, I know I can add more value to a small business, and hence I’ve been in my role for 9 years, but before that, you can see from my LinkedIn profile that I was probably written off by a lot of businesses as a job hopper because I’d changed jobs several times within a couple of years.

Maybe this means I’m inclined to be more sympathetic to candidates who appear to be job hoppers, but I think the main thing is I don’t want to dismiss someone before I know the reasons why they might have changed jobs repeatedly.

So my advice to hiring managers who are concerned that a candidate might not go the distance is as follows:

Find out more

If it isn’t clear why the candidate has changed jobs, find out more before you commit to meeting them.  If the consultant has done their due diligence, they will be able to explain why the candidate has moved from job to job.

Examine the reasons

Then examine the reasons.  ‘Money’ isn’t a good reason.  ‘Career progression’ isn’t a full explanation – why didn’t they get the progression?  Were they overlooked for a promotion?  Is it just that they’ve outgrown the role?  Were promises made at interview not delivered to them?

Examine their ambition, and make sure it aligns with what you are offering

If they are moving from job to job and not getting what they want, can you offer it?  Will the role in your team be sufficiently challenging?  It might be worth a conversation – but it might not.  Make sure their ambition is compatible with what you are offering.  Are they a high flyer?

Look for patterns

Review their whole CV.  Which roles have they stayed in the longest?  What kind of companies are these?  Is there a pattern?  Can you see a clear progression from job to job?

Use video interviewing

Use video interviewing in your recruitment process.  Which means someone like me will ask the questions so you can watch the candidate’s responses to questions about why they’ve moved from job to job, get a feel for how honest they are being, and make an informed decision whether to progress them or not.

Use psychometric assessments

Use Psychometric assessments in your interview process – does the candidate get bored easily?  Do they like to be challenged, or thrive under pressure?  Can they handle boring tasks or prefer noisy or quiet environments?  All these things will help to steer you in the right direction.

The key takeaway is don’t dismiss them without talking to them first, use video interviewing or pick up the phone, don’t make assumptions or you might miss out on a great candidate. We’ve got so many great tools at our disposal these days, there is no need to hire the wrong person but equally there’s no need to dismiss someone who might be the right person before you know the reasons why they’ve changed jobs.

For next week’s blog, I’ll be writing about the same topic, but looking at it from the candidate’s perspective – so if you are worried that you’re not getting taken seriously because you’ve moved around a lot, or if you are not sure how to explain why you’ve changed jobs, keep an eye out for my next article.