Putting Job-hoppers in Perspective for Employers

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Sep 17, 2015
This article is part of a series called Opinion.

A lot of hiring managers consider multiple short-term jobs on a resume as “job hopping” and will immediately reject a candidate based solely on that criteria. But it seems like a waste for a recruiter to have to cast aside an otherwise seemingly qualified candidate due to short job tenure, especially when you consider that there is a shortage in supply of people with certain skills. If it was possible to overcome that objection, then recruiters would not have to reject an entire category of qualified candidates.

First of all, let’s define job hopping. To my way of thinking, job hopping means voluntarily leaving a multitude of jobs one after the other after just a few months. For people who consistently over a period of years take the wrong job and are never satisfied with any job for more than a couple of months, it is understandable to think that person either is in the wrong career or has a poor decision making process and to pass on working with them.

Job hopping does not include completing a contract job, being laid off, or losing a job when a company goes out of business or a division of a company is eliminated or a job is outsourced. Deciding not to relocate when a company moves a job out of state is not job hopping either. It also does not include every short-term job a person has ever held in their entire career. Sometimes a job turns out not to be what it had been portrayed to be during the interview and it should not be held against anyone for leaving a job like that after a short period of time.

Recruiters need to put short-term jobs, even if there are a lot of them, in perspective for hiring managers. Instead of assuming the worst when seeing a lot of short-term jobs on a resume, why not talk to the candidate and find out why they left each job? Then, depending on their answers, a narrative can be constructed that puts the “job hopping” in context in a way that does not reflect poorly on the candidate.

Just because certain people get let go in a layoff and others do not, does not mean the ones let go were no good at their job. Often more highly compensated employees are let go to save money. A short-term contract could possibly mean that the company did not have enough work to keep them busy past a few months and not that they were not doing a good job and therefore not extended or hired.

Hiring managers don’t necessarily think through all the possible scenarios when they see short-term jobs on a resume. For positions that require skills that are in high demand and short supply, it makes a lot of sense for recruiters to get as creative as possible in finding viable candidates. There’s no harm in adding text directly on the resume as to the reason the candidate left each job. Also the email message sent to the hiring manager along with the candidate’s resume can contain a brief summary of the person’s employment history, including reasons for the short-term jobs.

Not every hiring manager will be convinced to take a look at someone with multiple short-term jobs, but it is definitely possible to change a few minds. And get a few more hires.


This article is part of a series called Opinion.
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