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What Employers Should Know About Job Hoppers

Illustration of a frog hopping from one job lily pad to another

Serial job hoppers, who spend only a year or two at each job, can be costly for employers that have to replace them. But job hopping isn’t necessarily a sign of a poor candidate. When considering a job hopper, conducting careful background checks can verify their honesty and provide additional context for the reason behind frequent job changes.

What Is A Job Hopper?

The term ‘job hopper’ is often used to describe a candidate who jumps or hops from job-to-job and has short stints with several employers. Typically, those short stints are defined as spending one to two years at each job, but some classify job hoppers as people who spend less than five years with the same company.

To put that into perspective, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the current average number of years salaried employees have been with their employer is 4.1 years. Job hoppers are also defined by the fact that they choose to leave each job and seek out a new one instead of leaving their job for reasons beyond their control, like being laid off, cost reductions, and more. 

How do you determine a job hopper? Job hoppers are typically easy to spot by glancing at a candidate’s resume and seeing the amount of time spent at each of their jobs. However, it’s important to be wary of those who may be dishonest on their resume, such as altering dates of employment, by verifying candidates’ job histories with an employment history verification.

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What Does Job Hopping Reveal About Candidates?

Job hopping has long been considered a negative quality in potential candidates. For some, hoppers may be seen as unreliable, lacking loyalty, or having a poor work ethic. One professional even coined the term ‘Job Hopping Syndrome,’ explaining it can be career-threatening. That’s because job hoppers may believe vague promises about future growth opportunities and overvalue what they will get out of their new job.

In the eyes of hiring managers, job hoppers—especially serial job hoppers—may also be viewed as costly for companies, as hiring new candidates to replace them takes a lot of time and money. One survey revealed that Millennial job turnover comes with an economic cost of $30.5 billion. But with Millennials making up the largest generation (in America and the workforce) and Gen Z right behind them, this negative mindset is starting to shift.

How The Sentiment Is Shifting

First, studies show that Millennials showcase a strong loyalty to their employers despite spending less time at jobs. On top of that, they seek more than ‘just a job.’ According to a recent Gallup survey, Millennials want:

  • Opportunities for growth
  • High-quality management
  • Chances for future advancement
  • A sense of purpose (In other words, they want to know the mission and purpose of the company they work for)

Because of this, Millennials are more willing to change jobs frequently until they find what they’re looking for. With this information in mind, hiring managers are beginning to understand (and even expect) more candidates that are considered job hoppers. This year (2021), Millennials will make up 50% of the entire US workforce, and that number is expected to grow to 75% by 2030. But when it comes to screening job-hopping candidates, what should hiring managers consider?

What Hiring Managers Should Consider When Evaluating Job Hoppers

Their Reasons for Job Hopping

When it comes to considering job hoppers, hiring managers may need to gather additional context for the reasoning behind frequent job changes. According to a recent survey, 75% of Millennials believe that changing jobs frequently has helped advance their careers. Many find that job hopping can help them land a better job, earn more compensation, and create more opportunities for learning and growth.

Additionally, one survey found that 49% of Millennials are willing to quit their jobs within two years if they are unhappy, under-compensated, and have little-to-no career advancement or professional development opportunities. As a result, a lot of pressure has shifted to employers to create stronger retention strategies and more desirable work environments to increase longevity within their companies.

Gaps in Employment

If a candidate is considered a job hopper and has frequent gaps in employment, it can present more of a challenge for hiring managers. That’s because employment gaps may indicate more than simply wanting to change jobs; it could indicate a number of things, like lack of compensation or career growth opportunities, poor job performance, poor attendance, and more.

However, just as you can’t determine a candidate’s reasoning for job hopping, it’s difficult to look at a job hopper resume and know why there are gaps between jobs. Gaps in employment aren’t necessarily bad; if a candidate is otherwise qualified and has strong work experience and skills it’s worth discussing gaps in employment with the candidate.

Their Verified Work History & References

No matter how many jobs a person lists on their resume, one of the best ways to move forward with high-quality, job-hopping candidates is to include Employment Verifications as part of your background check screening process. Each Employment Verification ordered will confirm one position and will verify the candidate’s job title, start date, and end date. With it, you can quickly determine whether a candidate is honest about their work history despite the number of jobs they’ve held for a short amount of time. If there are any major inconsistencies, that could be a red flag for hiring managers to not move forward with a candidate, as they may not have the work experience necessary for the position.

Another method of learning more about job hoppers is checking their professional references. References can provide more insight into a job-hopper’s skills, experience, and work ethic so hiring managers can make better-informed decisions.

Make The Most Informed Hiring Decisions With Employment Verification

Whether a candidate is a so-called job hopper or a long-time employee, hiring managers need accurate information to make quality hiring decisions. With Employment Verifications from GoodHire, you can streamline the entire hiring process by quickly verifying candidates’ job history — a process that can be very time-consuming and costly when you’re screening multiple candidates with lengthy resumes and job histories.

GoodHire’s Employment Verifications also:

  • Use independently obtained phone numbers (when possible) to connect with former employers directly
  • Comply with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (and any additional federal and state fair-hiring laws) so you can ensure you’re making fair and consistent hiring decisions

Conduct Employment Verifications With GoodHire

Illustration showing GoodHires employment history verification option

The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. We advise you to consult your own counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.

About the Author

Ashley Blonquist is a former news journalist. She writes about GoodHire’s employment screening services and how employers use them to make informed hiring decisions.