Boyden Executive Search

By Tom Sorensen

Before you think we have gone totally mad, suggesting you should start hiring job hoppers, check out this data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: the average worker today will stay in a job for 4.4 years.

It gets worse: the tenure of the youngest employees entering the work force is predicted to be only 2.2 years per job.

Some 91% of the Gen-Y millennials, born between 1977 and 1997, say they plan to stay in a job for less than three years. It means they will have up to 20 jobs spanning a career. This research comes from Future Workplace, a company which assists organisations in rethinking the future of corporate learning and talent management strategies.

By the way, job hopping is the practice of changing jobs frequently, like every 12 to 36 months, especially as a means to quick financial gain or career advancement.

A  study called 2017 HR Mythbusters, from the U.S. company Namely, reveals that Baby Boomers are job hopping almost as much as the Gen Y/Millennial generation. The survey found that the median tenure at a job for workers between ages 25 and 35 was 1.42 years; the median tenure for those between ages 35 and 55 was just under two years; and for those between ages 55 and 65, it was 2.53 years.

You can of course ignore or hide from the obvious signs that the world out there is changing, that the staff you hire have other values than we have ever seen before. You can continue to hide your head in the sand (alludes to the ostrich syndrome).

Let me ask you this Mr. Hiring Manager: are you prepared to commit and guarantee that your company will employ a person up to his or her age of 67?

Thought so! Why should this individual then commit to staying with you their whole career?

In PricewaterhouseCoopers' study Millennials at Work, the top benefit that millennials value from an employer is training and development -- it beat out flexi hours, cash bonuses, and even a bigger vacation allowance. According to the study: "Millennials expect to keep on learning as they enter the workplace and spend a high proportion of their time gaining new experiences and absorbing new information."

Many young employees saw what happened to their parents when they were laid off because of economic instability, and irrespective of loyalty for however many years. No wonder that our new generations have become selfish, mature, realistic, and defensive when it comes to their own careers.

Enough has been said why job hoppers are the least wanted group of people you want to hire. Who does not worry about becoming the next sucker of a hit-and-run hopper?

It has always been considered the kiss of death if you were crazy enough to employ the perceived unstable job hopper. But you know what, we will increasingly find ourselves between a rock and a hard place, between the devil and the deep blue sea, when left with the unpleasant dilemma to choose between the undesirable job hopper or not filling the vacancy.

Here are six good reasons why you should not hesitate to hire job hoppers -- but rather welcome what they bring to the table and your organisation. Here's a summary of the pros of hiring job hoppers as presented by Forbes' writer Jacquelyn Smith:

  1. Diverse professional experience: A job hopper brings experience from a number of industries and size of companies as well as exposure to a variety of challenges.
  2. Access to more information and resources: Skill sets necessary to keep up with the constant changes must be diverse and dynamic. In most cases, the environment necessary to foster this growth cannot be found with a single employer. By working in many different environments the job hopper gains access to different resources.
  3. Exposure to new businesses and people: A job hopper will get to see ways how others are going about their business, while at the same time building their network with a new pool of business people.
  4. Access to a large resourceful network: While networking used to be important, in today's hyper-competitive market it is vital. Different employers provide access to different networks in which a job hopper can plant roots and farm relationships.
  5. Chance to find the right job: Job hopping allows a candidate to assess what he/she likes and does not like. Once ready to settle down for several years, the job hopper knows what he/she's looking for.
  6. An opportunity to show off some of your best attributes: Job hopping allows the job hopper to show employers flexibility, adaptability and quick learning. That someone is not afraid of change and risks. Many companies are keen on hiring candidates with these attributes.

But what is the other side of the coin? What are the dangers lurking for you should you be motivated to jump on the bandwagon and start a career as a job hopper?

Clients clearly hesitate to invest in employees who may only have a career span of 12 to 24 months. I know this from my professional work as a headhunter. Investments could be overseas training, promotions to jobs with more responsibility, and managing bigger projects. Loyalty is a two-way street and, from the employer's perspective, goes a long way.

It takes five to six months before a replacement can start. During this period, productivity will surely go down and overtime expenses may rise as other staff must step in to cover work previously done by the person leaving. So it is usually quite expensive to recruit, court, hire and get new employees going.

In the event a company needs to lay off people, new arrivals will typically go first. Or staff with a job hopping history who management believe may soon leave anyway will be in the firing line.

It's not what you know, but who you know. An old proverb which is about relationships being more important than ever. Employees moving too quickly will compromise their potential to build up a network of reliable contacts that may become useful in the future.

We may therefore conclude that there are many benefits and drawbacks to job hopping for both employers and employees. Only time will show how the pros could outweigh the cons.

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