When hiring managers or recruiters assess a candidate’s work history by perusing their resume, one of the first signs of trouble is a choppy work history. Specifically, there’s an immediate bias against candidates who switch jobs frequently in a short time period.
“Job hopping” stands out on a resume as much as a spelling error, and both issues usually are show-stoppers. That is, candidates with these traits typically do not advance to the next round of the screening process. We all know that context matters, and there may be perfectly good reasons to switch jobs often – or even misspell a word (but probably not).
The truth is, for in-demand roles with dozens of applicants, perception often becomes reality. Time and patience are in short supply, so people draw conclusions about candidates based on limited information because it’s more efficient.
The downside, of course, is that this go-through-the-motions hiring approach may cause companies to overlook “A” players. If you believe that “A” players are worth 2-3x average performers, then you realize how costly this mistake can be.
On a regular basis, we see people switch jobs due to circumstances beyond their control, or because of can’t-miss opportunities. What I’m getting at is, candidates who are leapers are keepers, whereas job hoppers are show-stoppers.
It’s important to understand the difference.
Comparing a Job Leaper to a Job Hopper
To distinguish between these two types of job candidates, ask the right questions.
Find out the reasons why a candidate took each of their jobs and why they left each of those same jobs. Are the reasons aligned with successful behavior or not? If not, there’s a high probability of history repeating itself, and that’s on you for missing that.
The red flags that scream “bad behavior” include: erratic or impulsive decision making, finger-pointing, constant conflicts with colleagues and superiors, accepting jobs that always seem to be a “bad fit” in hindsight, and getting terminated for cause.
“A” players may switch jobs often because they want to get outside of their comfort zones and take calculated risks, they strive to take on more responsibility, or they aspire to join teams that will push them farther in their careers. These signs point to ambition, enthusiasm, and an unwillingness to become complacent. Do these sound like the characteristics of an all-star who will help your company succeed?
Perhaps the best advice I can give you is this: Acknowledge that life happens. Nobody is immune to adversity. No matter how privileged your background, unforeseen challenges are a fact of life. Companies relocate or shut down, Coronavirus occurs and the macroeconomic effects are felt far and wide, relatives may get ill and need to be taken care of, etc. Keep an open mind. Seek understanding. Show a bit of empathy.
When you gather all the data and connect the dots on each candidate, what picture does it paint?
By following this exercise consistently when you screen candidates, you will begin noticing patterns of both winning hires and bad hires. With repetition, you will make more educated and informed decisions, and hopefully your “batting average” will improve.
This post was written by recruitAbility manager Scott Beardsley.