4 Reasons Why Job Hopping is a Good Thing

In my first gig out of college as a corporate recruiter, I had responsibility for the grind of hiring classes of customer service reps. Volume recruiting at its finest.   When I was trained by a co-worker on the company’s process for screening applicants, my fellow team member told me that the process used to include screening people out who were “job hoppers”- those that shown through their resume- couldn’t seem to stay at one job for more than a year or two at a time.

Then the lawyers got involved and told us we couldn’t screen people out for that.  I understood both sides.  On the view of screening those job hoppers out, the company invested a substantial amount of time in training quality customer service reps. If someone had been shown to not stay with a place for longer than a year or two through their past behavior, (and past behavior predicts future performance had been drilled into my head from an interviewing and screening perspective) the company was making bad decisions hiring those that might not even stay through the entire training period.   And, although rule follower I am not, I could see why the lawyers told us not to.  Whisper potential adverse impact and you cut it out.

But now I see another reason why screening people based on their “job hopping” isn’t a best practice.   In today’s workplace, average length of service is declining, hovering at less than five years for all workers. People change jobs quite often, and often for advancement and career growth reasons.

Now when I look at someone’s resume and see they have been in the same job for more than 8-10 years, I am more inclined to think, what is wrong with you?  Why have you moved up, done more, gained more experience?

A quote I saw on LinkedIn a couple of days ago said something along the lines of,  “What we used to call job hopping is now called career experimentation.”

Whether you think the wording is all bull or not, there some potential advantages to hiring a job hopper:

  1. Diversity of experiences, which could lead to an ability to innovate and to contribute in a way that the company may not have thought of before.
  2. Indication of motivation and drive. Because many people job hop in order to advance in pay and/or responsibility, job hopping could show a greater level of drive than someone who is content to stay in one role at one company.
  3. Ability to find cultural fit. Because job hoppers have seen different work environments, they are better able to compare and contrast environments to know what environments are the best fit for them and seek out those environments and opportunities.
  4. A social capital advantage. People who have worked at a variety of places are bound to know more people.  And as social capital replaces human capital (who you know and what they collectively know as opposed to just what you know) as the biggest asset an employee can provide, having those who are well networked on your team can lead to better outcomes.

As an employer, you’ve got to weigh your opportunity cost as to what a job hopper may bring to your table.   Considering the amount of time and training it takes for them to be a contributing member of your team, not to mention recruitment/replacement costs for particular roles, verses the above advantages is worth the analysis.

Do you love or hate job hoppers?


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Mary Ila Ward