Coburg Banks | Multi-sector UK recruitment agency

Would you recruit a Job Hopper?

By Anthony Hughes | Dec 14, 2014 | Attracting Staff

When recruiting for a new role, the likelihood is that you will sift through a pile of CVs with a set criteria of exactly what you want your ideal candidate to look like.

And when seeking a perfect fit for a role, you may also place a heavy emphasis on candidates who have a history of loyalty and longevity in previous roles.

But, with job longevity becoming a thing of the past, employers and recruiters may have to change their mind-set on recruiting what are commonly known as job hoppers, those individuals who switch jobs frequently enough for it to be noticed.

Job Hopper: The end of a job for life?

Statistics show that the average person in the UK will have between 10-14 different jobs in their lifetime.  This number has crept up over the years, especially since the recession of the mid-70s where we have seen a reduction in the number of long-lasting jobs in the economy.

During this same period, the average time a person will stay in the same job has also dropped by around two years.

One of the key reasons for this may be the difference in attitude of the baby boomers generation of post-war Britain to the generation X and Y (those born between the mid-60s and the millennium).

A typical baby boomer approached work with a long-term, almost stoic philosophy and would certainly frown upon job hopping. They would think nothing of staying with one employer for 30 years, before grabbing their pension and carriage clock, popping into their Talbot Sunbeam and tootling off into retirement.

Whereas a typical generation X & Y worker is more self-orientated and will seek roles which are more about instant gratification and less about a long-term employment strategy.

A few decades ago you may well have been labelled a pariah if you made a single job move within a five year span.  Nowadays in some industries a move per year isn’t unheard of.

Job Hopper: The Complacent Job Hopper

Let’s look at two of the most common type of job hoppers.

The first, and probably least attractive to potential employers, are those job hoppers who continually move to similar levels of roles with different businesses.

For example, let’s look at a chap called Stuart who graduated from Northampton University in 1995 with a BA (2:2) in Business Studies.

Stuart climbed his way up the corporate ladder and in 2001 he became a Marketing Manager for a large producer of dairy products based in Shropshire.

Since 2001, Stuart has had 6 similar roles all with the title Marketing Manager, but none of the subsequent businesses were as large as the dairy producers over in Shropshire.

You may have a scenario where Stuart’s CV is one of many you have in a pile, vying to gain an interview for your vacant Marketing Manager’s position.

What is apparent from Stuart’s career history is that there is little doubt that he could join your business and hit the road running.  But what about in a couple of years when you could be looking to take Stuart onto the next level?

The fact that Stuart has basically had the same level of position for over 10 years could illustrate that Stuart has reached his natural career level and fulfilled his potential.

This is where aligning your recruitment strategy with your succession planning is vital.

If you feel that you already have a good number of individuals in your business who have the potential to move onto the next level, then perhaps unambitious Stuart could be a good fit.

If on the other hand you are looking to identify an individual who could be more equipped to move to the next level of your organisation within a couple of years, then Stuart may not be the man for you.

You may also find that the Stuarts of this world are also a little bit cheaper to recruit and in more plentiful supply than the more ambitious and perhaps more talented candidates on the market.

Which brings us nicely onto the second type of job hopper:

Job Hopper: The Ambitious Job Hopper

Whereas Stuart is our archetypal job hopper from yesteryear, a new breed of hungry, ambitious and talented job hoppers have arrived to change our preconceptions.

For this example, let’s look at Heidi who also graduated from the same class as Stuart back in 1995 with the same 2:2 in Business Studies.

Whereas Stuart’s career has meandered without any sign of progression for the last decade, Heidi has blossomed.

Since becoming brand manager for a blue-chip cosmetic firm in Birmingham in 2000, Heidi has worked for 8 other businesses, showing career progression with every move.

And whereas Stuart has plateaued by becoming the travelling marketing manager, in the same period, Heidi has gone from Brand Manager, Group Marketing Manager, and is now Head of Sales and Marketing.

It would seem that to Heidi and many others like her, job hopping is replacing the concept of climbing the corporate ladder.

Job Hopper: Here comes the Job Hopper

So, depending on the type of role you are recruiting for, perhaps you shouldn’t be so quick to discount a job hopper when you are shortlisting candidates for a role?

If the job hopper has done their job hopping for the right reasons, then they can be extremely advantageous for certain businesses.

If somebody is coming from a technological background, for example, job hopping will allow them the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge in different environments, cultures and more exposure to the very latest technology.

It is considered that the modern job hopper also feels less tenured to an employee and will have confidence in theirs skills to be able to move on without burning bridges and add value immediately in a new opportunity.

It is worth considering that a candidate with excellent reference from five recent employers should tell you a lot more than an average reference for somebody who has been in their job for five years.

And you may find that a job hopper is better equipped to make a bigger impact to your business in 6 months than some people do in 36 months and could therefore prove to be a massive asset to your business.

However, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you will be the one who is able to keep the job hopper tethered to your business.  By their very nature job hoppers will probably be looking to move again after a year to two years with your organisation.

With more and more employers becoming open to hiring a job hopper that will add value to their organisation, could employing a job hopper be a risk worth taking for your business?

- Anthony Hughes

Anthony Hughes

Anthony is a recruitment veteran of 18 years and is also one of the original founders of Coburg Banks. He now trains recruitment consultants on the best methods to utilise when sourcing and assessing applicants for their clients. 


> More blog posts by Anthony Hughes

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