Job Search

Job Hopping is Cool, Right?

job hopper

Job hopping is now considered acceptable, even cool, by some workers. But that perception isn’t reality. For most recruiters, it’s still a career killer.

According to a recent study by the recruitment-software company Bullhorn, nearly 40 percent of recruiters say the single biggest obstacle for a candidate is having a history of job hopping– leaving a company before one year of tenure.

Over the past few years, job hopping has gotten a more positive reputation. People who go from job to job have been rebranded as free agents. Proponents of job hopping, especially Millennials, have spun it into a positive:  You’ll get a broad range of experience! You’ll know more people! You’ll make more money!

Don’t let the new name fool you. The real-world results of job hopping are still the same. If your resume doesn’t show longevity, you’re facing an uphill battle with recruiters. To the majority of employers, loyalty counts. They want to see that you can stick it out when things get rough. Remember, they are investing in you, and they want to make smart investments. The average cost of a new hire in a mid-level assignment is nearly $60,000, according to jobscience.com If you don’t stay long enough to provide a return on that investment, the company loses.

Best hiring practices dictate that past behavior is the most accurate indicator of future behavior. If you’ve proven yourself to be a job hopper in the past, recruiters presume the same for the future. That means you’re a higher risk and your resume goes to the bottom of the pile.

It’s worth noting that some will argue performance outweighs tenure. A recent Forbes.com article quotes Steve Kasmouski, president of the Search Divisions at WinterWyman, as saying, “The most important thing is to be able to demonstrate that no matter where you worked or for how long, that you were someone who was critical to the success of a project or the company as a whole.”

While I agree in theory, here’s the reality: It takes a new hire on average anywhere from three to six months to ramp up to the speed and competence of an existing employee. Then, the person must not only demonstrate an extremely high level of performance, but be able to define the results—to truly measure how he or she was critical to an accomplishment. It is a rare case indeed where all of this happens in less than a year.

If you really want to make a case for yourself as a desirable hire, don’t buy into the hype about job hopping. Stay put for a while. Make it work where you are. Make exceptional contributions. And then pitch your performance to recruiters who aren’t turned off by your lack of tenure.

About the Author

Susan Price has been writing about careers, entrepreneurs and personal finance for more than a decade. She’s been an editor at BusinessWeek, Money, and iVillage.com, among others.