A silhouette of a man jumping from one cliff to another against blue sky to represent job-hopping.
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Why do employers still see job-hopping as a bad thing?

17 Jan 2019

New research shows two-thirds of employers have opted not to interview someone who has had short stints at companies. But why is job-hopping viewed so negatively?

We already know that in generations gone by, a 10-year tenure at a single company would be considered far more impressive than someone who had five two-year stints at different companies.

But, with a rich job market and the ability to travel and move around in the industry becoming easier all the time, a more colourful CV has become far more acceptable.

And yet, in new research conducted by Indeed, it seems that job-hopping is still viewed negatively by employers – so much so that 65pc of employers surveyed said they have opted not to interview someone who has had short-tenure jobs at other companies.

Indeed’s research also found that 44pc of employers feel having three short-tenure jobs on their CV is considered job-hopping.

But why is changing jobs considered such a terrible trait to the extent that someone who has a wealth of experience suited to a particular job may not even get an interview?

I’ve talked about job-hopping before because I know that jobseekers can worry about how their CV might be perceived before they get the chance to even meet an interviewer. In fact, in a HR study last year, IBM found that the average hiring manager spends just six seconds looking at CV – so, if that hiring manager is inclined to view job-hopping as a negative, someone with a few short stints might be rejected faster than the time it takes to send another application.

‘Making assumptions that job-hopping automatically means someone is not a worthy candidate is just as bad as assuming all millennials are lazy or all baby boomers are digitally inept’

This new research is incredibly worrying as it solidifies the idea in both employer and employee minds that job-hopping should be viewed as a negative trait when hiring the ideal candidate. Really, every candidate should be reviewed based on their own merit, whatever that might be.

Employers might look at job-hopping as a red flag but when they choose not to interview someone based on that alone, what they’re missing is context. Any preconceived notions you may have about why someone moves jobs all the time will become clear in an interview setting.

Unhappy days

Job-hopping should not be viewed as disloyalty or a lack of staying power. It should be viewed as a need to grow and upskill or, at the very least, a refusal to settle for being unhappy at work.

In fact, Indeed’s research also highlighted that an unhappy workplace is the main reason for short stints. The statistics only get worse for women, too. Unhappiness at work was the reason behind short stints for 44pc of women compared to 36pc of men.

In addition to this, LinkedIn research earlier this week highlighted the amount of people who are unhappy at work. If these people are worried about how job-hopping looks to other employers, will that force them to stay put? Sadly, this does seem to be the case, with Indeed’s survey showing that 25pc of people have stayed in a role for longer than they wanted to avoid being labelled a ‘job-hopper’.

When employers continue to fuel the idea that job-hopping is a bad trait, it makes employees believe it too, which clearly forces many to stay in one job longer than they should, simply to ‘do their time’. But if they’re no longer getting any value from staying in a job, are those extra few months really improving them as a candidate for you?

Can employees ever win?

While job-hopping is clearly still viewed as a bad thing by a lot of employers, staying put for too long can also imply a lack of growth or upskilling.

I’ve seen both sides of the coin. I know someone who was in the same job for more than a decade and another who changed jobs five times in less than three years. Both of these people are highly competent, extremely experienced and incredibly hardworking. Yet they both worried about how employers viewed their CV; the former feeling that staying still for too long looked bad, while the other worried about the negative connotations attached to job-hopping.

The talent shortage across various industries may mean it’s a jobseeker’s market out there. However, for every one job an employer has, it is still likely that many candidates will go for it, which means there is still fierce competition.

Jobseekers will do their best to prove to employers that they’re the single best candidate for the job and, unfortunately, that means having to balance the tightrope of figuring out how long is too long in one job or how many jobs is too many.

Every candidate should be judged on merit and experience, because tarring everyone with the same brush will only limit your talent pool and cast aside valuable candidates.

The truth is, someone who has shown extreme company loyalty might also have never bothered to upskill. Equally, a job-hopper might indeed be disloyal and always leave to go to the highest bidder.

If you have these worries, by all means find out more at the interview stage. But making assumptions that job-hopping automatically means someone is not a worthy candidate is just as bad as assuming all millennials are lazy or all baby boomers are digitally inept.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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