Job Hoppers: What Employers Should Know (and Five Questions to Ask)

Reviewed by Brendan Sullivan, Indeed Recruiter
4+ years of experience, 150+ roles filled

 
With the rise of the gig economy, talented employees may move from one employer to the next in search of professional development opportunities and favorable company culture. Hiring managers may be nervous about taking a chance on a job-hopping potential candidate, but job hoppers often come with additional experience and other benefits that can bolster your team’s success. Use this guide to learn what you should prepare for when interviewing and working with job hoppers at your business.
 

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What are job hoppers?

Job hopping is the practice of quickly moving from one employer to the next. There isn’t an exact amount of time with an employer or number of jobs that a candidate needs to have to be considered a  job hopper. Some industries have a high turnover rate and candidates with several employers in rapid succession are the norm, while others have an expectation that new hires should stay for several years.
 

Related: Calculating Staff Turnover: A Guide for New Managers

 

Why do people job hop?

While job hopping was once a sign that someone was unable of holding stable employment, job hopping is now more common. After severe economic downturns disrupted the idea that people should expect to stay at one company for the entirety of their career and climb the ranks over time, people anticipate multiple job, employer and even career changes over time. Top candidates job hop for many reasons, including:

 

Salary increases

One of the key reasons people leave their current employer in favor of a new job prospect is to seek out a higher salary that fairly compensates them for their labor and expertise. While people can expect raises each year from their employer, some people may seek out higher increases. By seeking out a different employer, top candidates may be able to obtain a more significant salary increase, helping them pursue goals of financial stability.

 

Upward mobility

Another reason people job hop is the lack of growth opportunities at their current employer.  If an employee joins a company then realizes that company leadership often seeks out outside hires instead of promoting current employees, they may feel that they do not have a future at the company. Lack of advancement opportunities can lead an employee to start looking for companies that will enable their professional development and provide opportunities for growth.
 

Related: What is the Gig Economy (and How to Hire In It) 

 

Company culture

Top applicants tend to seek out a company culture where they feel supported, engaged and committed to the company’s mission and values alongside their individual role within the business. Even new hires may realize the company culture is not a good fit for them and decide to seek out a new position at a company that better aligns with their needs. 

 

Benefits of hiring a job hopper

Here are some of the benefits that a job hopper can potentially bring to your company:

 

Expansive skill sets

Job hoppers may move from job to job seeking out new opportunities for growth, amassing a large skill set that they can use to improve operations at your business and perform their role more efficiently. As a result of their varied experience, job hoppers can teach your team the skills, strategies and tools they learned in past roles.

 

Industry knowledge

Hiring a job hopper can also give your team additional insight into how other businesses in your industry accomplish similar tasks. Job hoppers may have worked for multiple direct competitors, allowing them to compare current workplace procedures at your business to similar businesses and give recommendations on how your company can be more competitive.

 

Ambition

Job hoppers often change jobs because they have high ambitions and want to grow as fast as possible. If you have opportunities for growth, you can channel the job hopper’s ambition into long-term success at your company. Their new ideas and drive for success can motivate your entire team.

 

Agility and adaptability

Because job hoppers are used to learning new processes every time they go through onboarding at a new employer, they can be highly adaptable and open to change. They are able to quickly learn new skills and respond to industry changes with ease, allowing your business to be more agile.

 

Challenges of working with a job hopper

Not all job hoppers are ambitious and successful, so it is important to be aware of potential drawbacks of hiring this type of worker:

 

Possible instability

Hiring a job hopper is a risk because you know they have a pattern of leaving past employers. Job hoppers that feel unsatisfied will have no problem leaving your team for a better opportunity, creating possible instability.

 

Lack of problem-solving skills

Some job hoppers decide to quit their jobs when they experience conflict or difficulty, preferring to leave instead of finding a solution. As a result, they may not have strong problem-solving skills.

 

How to spot a job hopper

Regardless of whether you decide to hire a serial job hopper or not, it is useful to know how to identify job hoppers:

  1. Look at the timeline of their resume: Check the dates of each of their jobs, looking for gaps in their resume. Be sure to inquire about the timeline so you get a clearer picture.
  2. Take education and training into account: Some people may look like job hoppers when in reality, they were pursuing multiple short-term opportunities like internships and temporary work-study programs. Again, be sure to ask the candidate about their background so they can explain.
  3. Check references: Reach out to the candidate’s references to confirm the dates of employment and discuss the reason for each job transition.

Five interview questions to ask 

The interview is the perfect time to clarify whether a job hopper could be an asset or a detriment to your company. Try asking these questions to learn more about their intentions, goals and past habits:

 

1. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Ask this question to learn whether the candidate can see themselves becoming a core part of your company. Their future goals can help you predict the candidate’s ability to grow within your company.

 

2. How would this company contribute to your professional goals?

Knowing how your business aligns with a candidate’s career goals is a good way to determine if they are an ambitious job hopper or are simply someone who has trouble committing to a single workplace.

 

3. How do you handle disagreements with superiors?

Talking about the applicant’s conflict resolution skills can help you determine their ability to overcome challenges and contribute to the overall culture of the company. 

 

4. Describe how you set goals for yourself in the workplace.

This question targets the candidate’s ability to plan and self-regulate in the workplace. It can help you identify motivated candidates who take initiative in their own career.

 

5. What can we do to support you as an employee?

Learning about your potential hire’s expectations when it comes to support from their employer can alert you to which candidates will thrive in your current company culture. It can also help you prepare accommodations to help a job hopper find a long-term place of growth on your team.


Brendan Sullivan is an Indeed recruiter based in Austin, TX with 4+ years of experience. You can usually find him enjoying one of the several amazing coffee shops in Austin or organizing his record collection.

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