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Most employers see job hopping as a resume red flag.

When reading someone’s employment history, if one notes that the applicant has held four jobs in five years, most are likely to chuck that resume in the slush pile.

Not only that, but a 2012 survey by recruiting software company Bullhorn found that nearly 40% of recruiters and hiring managers say a history of hopping is the single biggest obstacle for job-seekers.

This is understandable. Replacing an employee is time consuming and stressful, and it costs money — 20% of the employee’s salary in a job that pays under $50,000, according to one report, while another suggests employee replacement runs the company $15,000 – $25,000.

A history of job hopping might also make an employer wonder about a candidate’s temperament, raising questions about loyalty, dedication, consistency, and all those wonderful traits that are valuable in an employee.

All these, and more, are valid concerns. But the reality is that hiring managers might just have to get used to the idea of hiring job hoppers, as jumping from company to company is becoming the new normal, particularly among millennials, who are entering the workforce in droves.

Since Workopolis was founded in 2000, millions of resumes have been uploaded to our database. Even those very first resumes added had work histories going back a decade or more, which gives us data from over 7,000,000 employment-history records dating from 1990 to the present.

Looking at these job histories, our Thinkopolis research finds that the amount of time people spend at any one job has dramatically decreased to the point where shorter stays are now the majority. The number of people who held the same job for longer than four years has dropped dramatically over the past two decades, from a majority of 55-60 per cent between 1990-2002, to just 30 per cent today. And the number of people staying at their jobs for less than two years has increased from 16 percent to a whopping 51 per cent.

Why? A poll of Workopolis visitors found that the most common reason to leave a job was a poor working relationship with their boss. This was followed by disengagement at work and a better opportunity.

What’s your reason for leaving your most recent job?

    My relationship with my boss 37%
    I was bored, unhappy with the work 29%
    I found a better opportunity 20%
    Poor fit with the culture / coworkers 14%

It’s also being said that among millennials there’s a real drive to find a sense of purpose in their work, as well as a reasonable work-life balance. And that those who don’t find these things will keep leaping around until they do.

Meanwhile, employees don’t necessarily feel loyal to organizations in an era in which layoffs and mass firings are commonplace. Organizations aren’t necessarily loyal to their workers either.

Finally, the reality is that the economic and workplace landscape is rapidly shifting. People don’t even know what jobs will and won’t exist 20 years from now. We’re often running to stay in the same place as technology changes the way our jobs are done or phases them out.

Employers shouldn’t despair, however. There are compelling reasons not to dismiss the job hopper outright. The habit can actually engender some qualities that can be of value to an organization.

Three reasons why hiring ‘job hoppers’ can be good for employers:

    1. As more and more people change jobs increasingly frequently, this group is
    becoming too large a pool of talent to simply disregard.

    2. Changing jobs frequently gives workers a broader perspective of their industry,
    because they become familiar with the inner workings, challenges and strategies of
    numerous organizations.

    3. Job hoppers are perpetually the ‘new person’ on the team and so tend to be more
    flexible and hard working without a sense of complacency or entitlement, because
    they are in the first-impression phase. This energy can reinvigorate a team.

Employers can tap into that energy and insight and use it to their advantage. They might as well. Things aren’t going to go back to the way they were.

Gone are the days when people stayed at one company for 25 years, up until retirement and the gift of a gold watch. The grass is always greener. The next opportunity is always just around the corner.

Download the whole Thinkopolis report @ workopolis.com/research

  • Kelly Bian

    Before we say no to the job hopper, we need to find out the real reason for the hopping. I ever met a candidate who changed 6 job in the first 6 years, but he stayed 6 years in the follow company and I found he has good knowledge in his field. The reasons for hopping in the first 6 years were reasonable. So we offered him.

  • Richard Derek

    But job hopping also creates extra costs to businesses (i.e. increased recruitment costs.) It can also show that you have no commitment. Job hopping is not always a good thing.