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Should HR teams look at changing their attitudes towards ‘job-hopping’? - Could the job-hopper be your next showstopper?

Joanna Middleton

Joanna Middleton

Divisional Manager

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I think it’s fair to say that we have all been guilty of pre-judging a candidate’s suitability for a position based on their longevity in previous roles or the number of positions held.

But in a market where the number of temporary positions is continuously rising, and millennials make up a higher percentage of our workforce (50% of the global workforce by 2020 according to KPMG); we must ask ourselves if ‘job-hopping’ should be cleansed of its negative connotations?

During conversations with my contacts in HR teams across Warwickshire and Oxfordshire, there is an overwhelming feeling of skepticism towards CV's listing multiple jobs in relatively short time periods. Clients will often say, “Please don’t send me anyone who has moved around every 12 months” or “I really don’t like job-hopping on CV’s as there is clearly something amiss.”

Whilst there are certainly some instances where these assumptions are justified, the candidate market is becoming rife with jobseekers who have moved around regularly, often for perfectly valid reasons.

Yes, there are undoubtedly candidates who bounce from job to job every six months because they lack commitment and struggle to adapt to work cultures. This sometimes leads to individuals repeatedly failing probation periods and, in these instances, red flags should be raised.

However, before dismissal, the key question should always be ‘Why does this candidate have multiple stints on their CV?’ When explored and investigated, we often find that the reasons behind this are legitimate.

Citing an astute article posted recently by the jobs website, Monster, there are three typical categories of job-hoppers that are identifiable when screening.

1. Essential Hoppers

These hoppers move jobs for reasons entirely out of their control; usually because their partners work on contracts which move regularly, for example, the construction and oil/gas industries.

2. Opportunity Hoppers

These hoppers tend to be in the spring of their career, and they move around to fund travelling trips or often try different roles before eventually finding their feet in the right career direction for them.

3. Difficult Hoppers

These hoppers are the ones to try to filter out as they tend to be the ones who can’t find their place in the working world, usually armed with accusatory stories around bad managers, bad colleagues and they often have difficulty explaining why they are not successful in interviews.

There are many reasons influencing the increase in ‘job-hopping’ across today’s candidate market. Primarily, for Millennials, there is far more importance placed on finding the right ‘culture-fit’ within a business and many will dip their toes in various waters before they settle – is that bad thing? With advancements in technology and social media platforms allowing a ‘through the keyhole’ insider look at different business cultures and how they are presenting themselves in the virtual sphere; candidates are less likely to settle somewhere because it’s simply ‘a job’.

This is not just exclusive to the millennial talent pool either. Candidates at varying stages in their career will talk me through reasons for choosing to work in temporary roles or on self-employed short-term projects, most of which are completely justifiable.

People have developed an increased consciousness towards work-life balance and well being which, in turn, has fuelled the rise of the ‘gig’ economy. More professionals are therefore working in this style to allow for periods of study, travel or time at home with young children.


I often sit and think, “Wow! If only this client of mine could be persuaded of my candidate’s career moves, they would be welcoming some amazing talent into their team right now.”

Other clients of mine who reserve judgement based on a CV alone and qualify suitability once they have met with individuals in person, are often left impressed, “Thanks, Jo” they say. “We’re so pleased you persuaded us to meet your candidate. She was great. When can she start?”

There are also benefits which job-hoppers might offer your business. In my experience, these candidates are often very adaptable, open-minded and resourceful individuals who bring experiences with different employers (and sometimes new ideas) to the table. These new ideas stem from exposure to diverse company cultures and processes, which could lead to innovative and efficient suggestions for process improvements for your business.

To conclude;

In an increasingly sparse candidate market, HR teams might do well to remember that the process of hiring is very much a two-way street. I would urge all my HR contacts to adopt a slightly more open mindset, and that way they might secure a ‘showstopper’ and not just a job-hopper.


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