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Grow Your Business Your Team

Finding the 'Right' Kind of Job Hopper

Finding the 'Right' Kind of Job Hopper
Credit: connel/Shutterstock

Are you hesitant to hire a chronic job hopper? It's not unreasonable to have concerns about candidates who haven't stuck around long at previous jobs, especially if they're beyond entry-level. Some employers don't want to risk bringing on a person who's likely going to leave them in a year or two. But other employers have found that, with the right management techniques, even someone with a propensity toward shorter tenures can make a strong, lasting impact on the organization.

Before you go making an offer, though, there is one important distinction to make: Is the candidate truly a job hopper, or is he or she an ambitious go-getter who pursues a good opportunity when it comes along in the name of career advancement?

Dan Graham, co-founder and CEO of custom sign company BuildASign.com, believes there's a big difference between hoppers and what he calls "short-timers," and employers need to be able to recognize each type.

"Some people hop jobs because they are flaky, unreliable or ineffective, but that's not always the case," Graham told Business News Daily. "Short-timers ... may not stay at any one company for years on end, but it's because they are often working towards a much bigger goal, usually starting their own business. Those short-term workers are looking for personal and professional development opportunities that will help prepare them for that, which typically makes them more ambitious, innovative and productive."

Short-timers can also bring a wealth of knowledge to a company that individuals with longer tenures may not have, said Carrie Brandes, vice president of people and culture at Ubiquity Retirement + Savings. If an employee has performed a similar role for several organizations, he or she has likely observed a few different ways of doing the same thing, and can bring fresh perspective to that particular project or issue at your company. [Why Frequent Job Hoppers Might Make Good Hires]

What kind of job hopper is a candidate?

Brandes said the best way to distinguish valuable short-term employees from flaky ones is to trace their career trajectory thus far and see what they've accomplished in each position.

"Look at their résumé — are you seeing upward progression, a title change or more responsibility?" Brandes said. "Or are they changing roles because they're not sure what they want to do? What's their motivator?"

Melissa Davis, CEO of Elev8 Staffing, said that you can usually tell if a candidate moves on too quickly based on patterns in not only employment, but also in his or her education and other activities. Short tenures at multiple organizations/schools across the board, especially if the candidate is young or has only general rather than niche skills, can be a sign that he or she gets bored easily and just wants to chase that "next thing."

Both Davis and Graham agreed that asking potential hires about their long-term goals during the interview process can help you identify an ambitious employee.

"We ask about [candidates'] five- or 10-year plans and dig into their true motivators and interests," Graham said. "Then we build in success stories about other short-timers and talk about them in a proud way, which makes the interviewee feel comfortable with sharing their plans honestly."

How to manage short-timers

If you do decide that a candidate with short job tenures would be a valuable hire, it's important to manage them well to get the most out of what could be a brief time with your company. You also want to keep them satisfied to potentially extend that stay of employment, especially if the employee is a millennial.

"Focus on providing opportunities for growth and development, which is what really keeps millennials engaged," Graham said. "[Millennials] start looking for the next opportunity as soon as they feel they are no longer growing with the company."

Brandes said that employees want to make a difference and know how their role fits into the larger purpose of an organization, so keeping them satisfied means keeping these motivators top-of-mind in your company culture and management approach. The goal, she said, is to create an environment where employees can learn and advance, see their progress and build a sense of connectedness and community in the workplace.

Short-term employees' entrepreneurial ambitions should be encouraged and supported in their role by offering them as much autonomy as possible in their position, Graham said. You should also encourage open dialogue about how your company can help the employee build the skill sets he or she wants, whether they're for this job or the next.

"There are three main things millennials look for in a job: responsibility, growth and autonomy," Davis added. "If you keep them engaged and provide consistent feedback, they tend to be happier in their roles for longer."

Nicole Fallon
Nicole Fallon

Nicole Fallon received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the assistant editor. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.

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