If you’ve worked a few different jobs at various companies – each for a relatively short period of time – then you’ve probably earned yourself a reputation as a “job hopper”. But what exactly does it mean to be a job hopper today and how could it be affecting your career? Indeed recently surveyed1 1006 employees and 206 employers in Australia to find out more about the perception of job hopping – on both sides of the hiring fence.
There’s a stigma attached to those who “job hop”. After all, the label itself invokes thoughts of flippancy, non-commitment, disloyalty, or at best, a nomad lost in the world of employment. Almost 8 out of 10 employers (76%) say they’ve decided not to interview a candidate who has a history of short-term jobs. The truth is however, there can be many positive reasons why Australian employees decide to frequently change jobs. In turn, this also makes for a few good reasons to employ a job hopper!
Commonly associated with Millennial workers, changing jobs on a regular basis offers employees valuable exposure to different projects, industries and multiple ways of working. All these factors can lead to faster career progression, and even, higher salaries. For employers, a history of short-term jobs on a candidate’s resume can be indicative of a broad base of skills, adaptability and the ability to learn quickly.
As the trend towards short-term jobs grows in the Australian workforce, the question is, how long will the stigma around job hopping ‘stick’? What’s more, with unemployment rates in Australia recently hitting a six-year low while employment continues to rise, can employers afford to discount job hoppers in an ever-tightening labour market?
Here’s a snapshot of some of our survey findings to get a better sense of current perceptions and assumptions in the market.
How do employers view job hopping?
Most respondents consider seven months to be a short-term job, while three short-term jobs on a resume would qualify a candidate as a job hopper. When it comes to the recruitment process, there’s a marked difference between the approach of small business employers compared to larger business employers.
Almost half (46%) of respondents in companies with 50-249 employees have decided not to interview someone they consider a job hopper, compared to only 6% of respondents in companies with 1-9 employees. This could be indicative of a more open approach to recruitment taken by small businesses and startups. For smaller enterprises, considering job hoppers could help to fuel growth by accessing the widest talent pool of individuals who bring the most varied skills and experiences.
Despite more larger businesses having refused to interview a job hopper before, the Indeed survey, nonetheless, indicates that perceptions and attitudes around job hoppers is surprisingly similar among all employers. While nearly half of all employers (45%) have knowingly hired a job hopper before, there’s no strong consensus around the positive or negative impacts job hoppers bring to business.
Only 36% of employers think a history of job hopping would negatively impact a business (predominantly because of ongoing training (90%)) while 13% think job hoppers bring a positive impact (predominantly because they bring new ideas and perspectives (69%)).
Overall, Indeed’s findings indicate that while many employers might still favour candidates with long-term jobs on their resume, they’re unlikely to disregard candidates with a few short-term jobs when market conditions dictate. As Millennials continue to make up more of the workforce and job hopping becomes more common, perhaps the stigma among employers could become a thing of the past.
How do employees and job seekers view job hopping?
Indeed’s research shows that employers and employees/job seekers have very different views around what job hopping reveals about a candidate’s character.
While almost 59% think job hopping can hurt their career because of a negative perception by employers, over half (54%) think job hopping will damage their career because of a perceived lack of loyalty. What’s more, over a quarter (28%) of employees think they have missed out on jobs they are qualified for because they have short-term jobs on their resume. Because of the stigma around job hopping, a quarter (25%) of respondents to Indeed’s survey say they have stayed in a role for longer than desired to avoid being labelled a job hopper.
By contrast, only 37% of employees and job seekers think job hopping is disloyal while many believe job hopping demonstrates several positive attributes that can benefit businesses. Almost two-thirds (65%) think job hopping is an opportunity to learn new skills, over half (53%) think it shows an ability to adapt and 47% say it expands a job seeker’s professional network.
Tips to attract and retain the best workers in Australia’s tightening market
In a candidate-driven market where more and more employees and job-seekers are looking to maximise their experiences through short-term jobs, employers should focus on strategies to increase their pool of talent and retain existing staff. As many as 40% of employees say an unhappy workplace was the reason for leaving after a short period while the same proportion say they left because the job didn’t live up to expectations.
Based on a separate Indeed survey conducted with job seekers2, here are some tips to help your workplace understand what really matters to modern candidates on the path to becoming an employer of choice for the most talented workers.
1. Offer a competitive salary
Almost two-thirds (63%) of Australian workers say salary information is one of the most important factors when deciding whether to accept a job offer. In a candidate-short market, it’s important to ensure salaries offered are in line or above market rate to ensure you don’t lose talent to the competition.
2. Focus on growth and development
Over a third (35%) of workers say insight into growth opportunities would be most important when researching a company before applying for a job. To be an attractive employer with a motivated workforce, it’s important to invest in ongoing training and development opportunities for staff. What’s more, it’s essential to communicate this ethos to prospective workers while ensuring managers have regular conversations with existing staff around development opportunities.
3. Offer flexibility
Today, candidates are seeking flexible work options for a variety of reasons. Flexible working arrangements not only help workers to manage family commitments more easily, but they can also allow for a healthier work-life balance.
Better still, with modern technology making it possible for people to work from anywhere, it’s never been easier for companies to offer flexibility. So, with 41% of workers saying flexibility is one of the important factors when researching an employer, it might be time to revisit those policies around working from home and flexible hours.
4. Establish a supportive culture
Culture is so important to employees that 68% of workers say they seek out information around what it’s like to work at a company and over a third (35%) say culture is one of the most important factors when deciding to apply for a role. What’s more, 35% say they wouldn’t apply for a position if there was no information online about a company’s reputation.
Throughout the recruitment and onboarding phase, companies should ensure candidates are hired for cultural add while senior leaders and managers establish an environment where employees feel welcomed and supported to achieve their best.
5. Recognise and reward achievements
Ensuring employees always feel valued for their work should be an essential part of any retention strategy. But while performance bonuses might be one of the most common ways reward staff for achievements, there are also some effective non-financial methods for recognising top performers. These might include offering growth opportunities, implementing achievement award schemes, holding celebratory events and even offering bonus time off.
Regardless of how employers feel about job hopping, you shouldn’t disqualify skilled candidates solely due to short-term roles at previous companies. After all, the positive attributes of many job hoppers could far outweigh the negatives of short tenure experiences.
1 This research was conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Indeed among 1,006 randomly selected employed respondents/job seekers and 206 randomly selected employers in Australia between July 7, 2018 and August 1, 2018. The margin of error is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.
2 This research was conducted by Decipher/FocusVision on behalf of Indeed among 502 randomly selected job seekers in Australia between August 24, 2018 and August 31, 2018.