Are you at risk of being labelled a job hopper?

By Robert Half November 30, 2014 at 9:12pm

No one stays in the same job for life anymore. Indeed, staying in one job too long might make employers wonder why you’ve failed to advance. Equally dangerous to your employment prospects is a resume that has you frantically moving from one place to the next - this could result in you being labelled a job hopper.

Too many footprints?

If your career path looks like a particularly exciting game of checkers – with leaps and bounds galore – there may be good reason. A run of bad bosses, lack of advancement opportunities, team difficulties, workplace restructuring, family responsibilities or just taking a while to find your momentum can all add a few extra job titles.

The problem is that employers aren’t quite as understanding as your career counsellor might be. Recent research by Robert Half showed that 91 per cent of employers considered candidates with three or more job changes in 10 years to be ‘job hoppers’. However, you get a little more leeway in the public sector, where employers’ concerns peaked when candidates had moved five times or more in 10 years.

What’s even worse is that once they’ve decided you’re the hippity-hoppity type, you’ve got a 92 per cent chance of being eliminated from consideration. That’s less than a 10 per cent chance of even getting to the interview stage to tell your side of the story.

Why it matters

From the employer’s point of view, this is logical. New employees are a big investment, and a candidate with an unstable work history looks like a bad bet. Are they difficult to get along with, disloyal or impossible to satisfy? Will they jump at the next offer they get, will they be too demanding or are they just slackers?

Every employer is weighing up your possible benefits (skill, will and experience) against the potential risks, and ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ is a big risk. This is why smart employers work to keep their current talent with good conditions and justified rewards. Replacing and retraining staff costs big dollars – so much so that a high turnover can cripple a business.

There’s an old adage – look before you leap. That goes both ways: look forwards and backwards to make sure the trail you’re leaving behind isn’t going to bite you on the backside down the track. If you’re a bit up in the air about where you’re headed, perhaps ask a career coach for advice before putting too many more notches on your belt.

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