Job Hopping May Be Hurting Your Career

I recently interviewed a candidate to fill a management position. The HR department emailed his resume to me several days earlier, so I had a fair amount of time to review it in advance.I immediately noticed the number of  employers listed on the resume. He provided a work history that covered about twenty years and listed ten different employers. Calculating his employment dates, his average length of stay per employer is 1 year and 9 months. I expect this type of job hopping frequency from young professionals, not from a seasoned one.

Even though employees are no longer expected to stay with a company for life, they also don’t expect their employees to leave after a short while. Look, I get it, it’s important to change jobs to gain experience from different companies and industries. I’ve done it and reaped the rewards of generous salary increases. However, it comes to a point where changing jobs too often may turn into a disadvantage for future job prospects. Personally, I think the best time to stay with an employer is from three to five years. I’m averaging around 3.5 years per job.

My biggest concern was: What if he leaves as soon as another job opportunity entices him? He’s a flight risk. Companies spend considerable amounts of time and resources to find the right candidates to invest in them. It’s in their best interest to hire someone who will hang around for at least a few years.

Also, the management position requires leadership and mentoring of employees. If this person is not willing to stay put, then I question his commitment to lead and develop employees.

A candidate that exhibits chronic job hopping may simply come down to personality or boredom after a short while. However, most managers will agree that this person may not be worth investing in as an employee. If employers prefer short-term workers, they’ll most likely hire contractors.

If you are a job hopper and are seeking management positions, especially those that are from the mid to upper levels, be prepared to give a good explanation why you hop around so much. Employers may pay up to 21% of the new hire’s salary to recruiters. It may not seem like a lot, but when six figure salaries or more are involved, it’s a big price to pay.  It’s up to you to convince the interviewers that you’re not a flight risk.

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