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Why Frequent Job Hoppers Might Make Good Hires

Why Frequent Job Hoppers Might Make Good Hires
Credit: Ollyy/Shutterstock

Employers shouldn't be so hesitant to hire job candidates who have a history of quickly bolting companies for greener pastures, experts say.

Indeed, not all job hoppers are created equal, and some can bring an organization tremendous value, according to new research from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

Although organizations should try to hire employees they think will stay with the company, they should consider the motivations for the candidates' frequent job changes before ruling out job hoppers as bad investments, said Christopher Lake, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and one of the study's authors.

"If the applicant seems to be directed to advance his or her career, that person, if hired, may very well be a highly motivated and driven employee," Lake said in a statement.

As part of their research, the study's authors identified two main types of job hoppers: those who repeatedly dislike and escape a work environment, and those who are always looking to advance their careers. [Take the Leap: Job Hopping Loses Its Stigma ]

For their study, the researchers surveyed more than 500 working U.S. adults in a wide variety of occupations. They examined both the profiles associated with each type of job hopping and the workplace attitudes and job movement behaviors of job hoppers.

Although researchers did find some similarities in the two types of job hoppers — for instance, both tended to have repeated thoughts about quitting their current job and admitted to having recently looked for other jobs — there were some distinct differences.

For one, the escape-motivated job hoppers tended to be impulsive, lacked persistence and fixated on negative emotions, while advancement-motivated job hoppers were more likely to have a strong career drive and actively seek a variety of responsibilities and work experiences, the researchers said.

"This research suggests that advancement-driven job hoppers could bring many positive elements to an organization because they are highly motivated, confident and self-driven workers," Lake said. "They have many desirable qualities that could make them productive and effective at their job."

The findings show that not all job hopping should be viewed in a negative light, said study co-author Scott Highhouse, a professor of psychology at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. In fact, job hopping can be beneficial because it can give people the opportunity to develop new skills and boost their résumés, he said.

"It is certainly important to consider career ladders, especially for jobs that lack direct reports, like engineer or research scientist," Highhouse said.

When evaluating job candidates, employers should keep in mind that a job hopper may be intent on advancing his or her career, the researchers said.

Lake said employers should determine what the applicant's career goals are and help him or her meet those goals. One of the main reasons an employee changes jobs, he said, is for better opportunities elsewhere, and organizations that provide those opportunities are more likely to keep their employees.

Lake and Highhouse presented their findings at the national conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology earlier this year.

Originally published on Business News Daily.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.