Hiring has never been an easy practice, and job hoppers have long been the bane of HR managers around the world. That being said, the nature of the job market has changed a lot over the last few decades, and some degree of job hopping is expected for most of the workforce these days. With that in mind, it is useful to be able to identify the individuals who are more likely to leave you high and dry at the most inopportune time.
First, it is important to separate legitimate job hoppers from people who have simply worked jobs that are short-term or contract-based. For example, people in event management, construction and consultant roles will naturally move from company to company.
One of the most common types of people to look for are what’s termed an “opportunity” job hopper. These are people who are either overqualified for the position and will likely leave to pursue another opening, or they are individuals who already have a strong established work history and will likely leave if a better financial/scheduling offer is made. Now this isn’t to say that companies should avoid hiring someone simply because they’re overqualified. It is important to first take a look at their actual work history and see how long they typically stay in a position. Many people, especially new graduates, are looking for stable income and may stay much longer than you originally anticipate.
Some hoppers can be spotted just by a quick glance at their work history. With others, however, their habits may not be apparent until you interview them. For instance, they could have left their last company relatively quickly with a legitimate reason, but when you talk to them about it, they have nothing but negative things to say about working there. Probe a little bit further, and you may find that they have the same negative opinion about many of their former workplaces. You’ve just discovered a perpetual malcontent – this is someone who will inevitably leave because they find it difficult to adapt to the working world and will be unhappy no matter where they go.
In some cases, it can be difficult to identify either type of hopper. Either their work history is sparse, or they do not disclose this information during interviews. This is when references become important, as their former employers can provide honest insight that the candidate might not be as forthcoming with. In addition, asking the right questions during the interview can force the candidate to give you useful answers. For example, a question like “name your greatest achievements from a few of your last positions” will force them to think about their previous roles in a positive light and can also tell you whether they contributed anything of value before they left.
Finding the right person for a position is never easy, and spotting job hoppers early will definitely make the process more demanding. That being said, it is absolutely worth the extra time and effort to make sure you avoid hiring the wrong person. The alternative is much more costly.
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