Job Hopping; Looking At It From Both Sides
According to JobStreet, a job hopper is someone who “hops” or jumps from one company to another within a short time. But one very important thing to note is that there is no fixed definition of what qualifies as job hopping per se; everyone has their own limits on how often a person should be switching jobs.
For example, someone who jumped multiple jobs over the course of a year is almost certainly a job hopper, but some employers might label someone with two jobs in two years as a job hopper as well.
And another important thing of note (that most people might have known) is that a job hopper is usually not looked at very favourably among employers.
Why is job hopping associated with millennials?
Some of you (especially those who are younger) might be asking, why is job hopping associated with millennials?
Well, the simple answer is, because it can be said that millennials are the ones who popularised the idea of job hopping. While they didn’t create job hopping directly, they are the first generation of people who are very open towards the idea of switching jobs.
And the numbers show that this is true. According to a 2023 study from Gallup, 60% of millennials in the US are open towards a change in jobs, which is a 15% increase from the older generation.
The same study noted that 21% of millennials had changed jobs within the past year, which was three times the number of non-millennials within the same time period. These non-millennials did not include Gen X and Baby Boomers, but also the younger crowd from Gen Z.
Job hopper or opportunity enthusiast
Now to answer the question of why people job hop, what better way than to talk to an actual job hopper. Which is why for this article, we spoke to Nadj, 28, (not her real name) who comes with an extensive career history.
In the past three years since the pandemic restrictions were lifted, Nadj has worked at five different companies. This includes several very big names which we won’t be mentioning (again for anonymity’s sake), including a government linked company.
“I prefer the term ‘opportunity enthusiast’. I’ve just been making the most of life’s buffet, trying different dishes before I settle on a favourite,” said Nadj.
“Opportunity doesn’t always knock, but when it did for me, it had a better offer! Can’t blame a girl for answering the door, right?” she continued.
Nadj’s answer is in line with recent studies about job hopping, where it is shown that job hoppers almost never job hop out on a whim. Some popular reasons for job hoppers are low wages, uncooperative management, non-existent work culture, and many more.
However, although it can be said that Nadj holds an almost cavalier outlook towards the act of job hopping, the same can’t be said for employers.
In fact, it has been reported before that a Linkedin study has shown that 94% of employers are worried about employee retention.
And, some employers have also said that they are averse towards hiring people with a history of changing jobs, as they don’t want to be the latest victim on the list.
Job hoppers should focus on showcasing their diverse skills
However, Nadj said that employers who’ve had to deal with job hoppers should wear it like a badge of pride.
“I feel HR teams should almost be flattered. After all, if other companies keep poaching their picks, they must be recruiting some gems! Basically, I see it as a testament to the HR department’s great hiring. It prompts introspection on the changing workforce dynamics,” said Nadj.
Although Nadj might feel that way, there is still a stigma attached to job hoppers from employers. When asked about how does she deal with the stigma that comes with her extensive job history, Nadj’s answer is simple;
“I focus on showcasing the diverse skills I’ve gathered. Adaptability is key in today’s world,” Nadj surmised.
And finally, when asked about the prevalence of job hopping and whether the blame lies on the employers or the employees, Nadj had this to say.
“Job hopping often stems from a mix of seeking better opportunities and evolving workplace dynamics. It’s like blaming the chicken or the egg – everyone’s still figuring it out! It’s a mix of changing workforce aspirations and evolving company cultures. Both sides are still adapting to the new norms,” concluded Nadj.
How HR managers can spot job hoppers
After talking to Nadj, we spoke to Shahira, an HR manager from a major investment company to hear what she thinks of job hoppers.
“The easiest way to identify a job hopper is by checking their resume. If their resume lists multiple short career histories then we won’t shortlist them,” she explained.
But Shahira also shared that there are some considerations that should be taken into account as well when determining if someone can be considered a job hopper or not.
“There are other factors that we need to consider as well, such as their employment history and terms. For example, although a candidate might have five different jobs in five years, it might just mean that they have been working on a contract basis, so it will be unfair to label them as a job hopper,” said Shahira.
It’s clear that many employers avoid considering job hoppers for roles, which is why these individuals have begun employing tricks to hide their job hopping history; such as not using a traditional chronological resume, omitting certain jobs, and others.
When asked how she deals with all these tricks, Shahira basically said that there’s not much she can do about it.
“I have seen some of the tricks that candidates used, like omitting certain job history. When this happens, I will ask the candidate to explain the gaps in the resume and what happened during that time.
“However, all these can only go so far, so we still have to rely on our gut feeling and instinct when deciding on a candidate,” said Shahira.
Job hoppers are risk takers
After the discussions with Nadj and Shahira, it’s evident that one huge question has not been answered yet by both sides, and that is why is job hopping considered harmful for the company?
And according to Shahira, it’s because when a candidate is hired, the company will pour a lot of resources into shaping the new hire into a productive employee.
“The reason why we avoid job hoppers is because companies pour a lot of resources into the hiring process, and also follow up processes such as training. We don’t want the resources to go to waste when the employee leaves and we also will have to restart the hiring process,” said Shahira.
But even with all that, it seems that a lot of company’s perception of job hoppers is starting to shift. For example, a CNBC article revealed that some hiring managers think that job hopping is now more acceptable than ever.
“I think one thing that companies are starting to realise is that job hoppers can be a very valuable addition to the team, because they are risk takers, very opinionated, and driven as well,” said Shahira.
Which is why Shahira is adamant about the importance of an exit interview.
“However, most companies don’t pay attention to their exit interview due to the fact that they are in denial. They don’t want to accept that some of the blame might lie with them,” she concluded.
So what can we take from what we’ve heard from the two sides? Well for one, job hopping can be a good tool for you to kick start your career, for example securing a better pay, a better career progression and others, but you will have to also contend with the fact that most employers will see your resume in a different light.
So, whatever direction you take with your career, remember to always do it with enough deliberation and thought, not just blind instinct.