Ways We Work: A Fresh Look at Job Hopping

by Craig Bryant

Craig Bryant, Founder and CEO of Kin, and Emily Powers, Director of Operations and Finance at Fresh Tilled Soil, have joined forces to uncover the mysteries of the modern workplace. The following is the fourth chapter of an eight-part series featuring some of the greatest debates, struggles, and solutions surrounding how we work. Check out the entire series here.

After ten years of reviewing résumés, I’ll confess that job hoppers still carry a stigma of being non-committal and risky to our company. Short stints at multiple companies within a couple of years throws up a red flag that the cost of onboarding and training may be for naught. Considering the cost of replacing an employee can be upwards of 2x their salary, why risk it?

With some cultural norms finally settling between employers and the millennial workforce though, it may be time to think about job hopping differently by combating its negatives and embracing its positives. Here are a few ways employers can do their part, and a few tips for would-be employees who may have a few too many lines in their résumé.

How companies should handle job hoppers

Expect new workers to iterate

It’s normal to move between companies and jobs early in one’s career. Just like in product design, iteration helps new workers home in on the company characteristics and responsibilities they’re best aligned with. So, is the candidate new to the job market? Give ’em the benefit of the doubt and discuss their experience with them before passing them over.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I’ve seen job candidates with ten plus years of one to two year stints. If there are other qualifiers about the person that catch your eye, dig in and ask about their record – it could be they’re still the right match for the company despite the skipping around.

“Many people follow a trajectory toward success that involves them moving between jobs. I don’t necessarily see it is a problem. I do believe it creates a great opportunity to inquire and seek information about the roles and the evolution of the potential hire. What have they learned from their jobs, what are they looking for in a new position and how can our company culture fit (or not fit) this particular person?”

Deborah Sweeney, CEO
www.mycorporation.com

Job hopping can also happen within a company. We have folks on our team who are on their second or even third job. I’m not talking about moving from a junior to senior position either. Lindsay Sanders, our customer manager at Kin, moved jobs two times internally before finding her true love of helping our Kin customers. Employers who are accommodating to employees who are still finding their professional rhythm will spend less money and time on churn, and reap the rewards of long term allegiance to their company.

Job hopping isn’t always a choice

Job hopping doesn’t always imply a lack of fortitude in the worker. Employers, the economy, and life circumstances are as much to blame for the recent increase of job hopping, and it’s workers who often find themselves stitching careers together with multiple employers, especially those newer to the job market working entry-level positions.

People come, people go. Handle it elegantly.

When I think of high churn jobs I think of sales and retail. In our industry though, in-demand skills mean people leave jobs even if they love the company they’re working for. Passionate designers and engineers are always on the lookout for the next big challenge, and often times a single employer can’t satisfy those needs.

Employers can handle this in two ways. First, companies with solid hiring, onboarding, and career development plans will undoubtedly be more resilient with the natural churn of employees and see a lot less turnover of those employees who’ll make a positive impact over the long term at a company. Second, an employer with its employees’ best interests at heart will recognize the value in helping employees find opportunities outside of their company when it’s no longer able to meet someone’s expectations.

Mentor, don’t just manage

We consider management a fundamental service provided to employees, but peer mentoring is what we really believe helps embed employees in our workplace. Having a peer-sponsor to train, answer questions, and be a guiding light is integral to getting employees through their first several months when they’re most likely to abandon ship.

Ugh, I’m a job hopper, help!

Focus on objectives and results in your résumé

As an employer, I want to see measurable accomplishment at jobs from a candidate. If it’s hard to comb through a page of short term positions that tell me nothing about how you performed at those various jobs, it’s wasting your time and mine. If there are big objectives and accomplishments, call them out right at the top of the résumé. Hiring managers are less interested in what jobs you’ve done, than the results your contributions have made.

Quit quitting.

There’s no such thing as a perfect employer. There is such thing as a good employer though, but many times it’s up to you, the employee, to challenge them for more. That’s right, working a job is a two way street: You need to manage yourself, your ambitions, and your career path just as much as your employer needs to offer up good operations and opportunities for you to stay on track. Keep in mind that it likely makes more financial sense for an employer to keep you on board and help you along than it does to lose you and hire your replacement.

“I work with every generation in the workforce and they all have one thing in common: none of my clients have ever expressed wanting to only stay at a job for 2 or 3 years. What they do express is that they don’t want to become stagnant. Companies need to start looking at this as a company problem, not a staff problem. Employees always seek to evolve, learn and grow. There’s no reason why an organization can’t accommodate that. If an employee feels like every 2 or 3 years their skills are being used in new and interesting ways, they won’t have to go elsewhere.”

Lauren Milligan
Career Advancement Coach
http://resumayday.com/

Do it yourself! ACA, 401s, etc.

If you’re skipping around a lot, maybe you’re a permanent freelancer! That’s no crime, and with the abundance of group insurance options out there (and ACA), you may just earn more money and do cooler work working independently. Think about revising your résumé and portfolio though – position yourself as a business with clients, rather than an individual being pushed around to different companies.

Employers and workers: Look before you leap

Hopping around different companies to work on projects that a potential employee is passionate about isn’t a crime. Job seekers should realize though that employers often get hundreds of job applications for a single position which means it’s your job to get noticed and not dismissed by something as simple as a long-scrolling work history.

Likewise, employers can do themselves a favor by looking deeper than just a résumé – self-recorded video introductions and questionnaires on the job application are just a couple of ways to buck the all-too-easy trend to page through a stack of job applications.

About Fresh Tilled Soil

Fresh Tilled Soil is a Boston-based user interface and experience design firm focused on human centered digital design