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Does Your Flaky Job History Matter To Recruiters?

Does Your Flaky Job History Matter To Recruiters?

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In a study released by Evolv, over 100,000 call center employees were asked about their employment history and their current tenure. The results could change how recruiters look at your rocky employment past.

Recruiters try to screen out “job hoppers;” that is, employees who seem to perpetually change jobs. For companies, this type of employee is very expensive, given the recruiting costs, training, and opportunity costs. Some say a job hopper who leaves before six months can cost an organization one and a half times the employee’s annual salary.

The assumption is that if your resume shows a long list of companies, with some jobs lasting six months or less, then you are a job hopper and will, therefore, leave all of your future jobs at the same frequency. Evolv’s study completely invalidates the flaky job history fallacy.

Respondents were put into one of five categories when asked how many jobs they’d had for less than six months — job hopper behavior. Options were zero jobs held for less than six months, one job held for less than six month, all the way up to more than six jobs held for less than six months.

Next, the study looked at the number of jobs each of these categories of employee had held in the last five years. Will the job hopper hold more jobs during the same time period than the non-job hopper? In other words, will job hopping behavior predict how long someone stays at a job? Most recruiters make this very assumption.

However, the results show that non-job hoppers and job hoppers have held about the same number of jobs over the last five years, and, therefore, job hopping is not an accurate predictor of future job stability.

In a chart, each color category of employee follows the same curve. This curve shows there is almost no difference in employment outcome among employees who have held short-term jobs in the past. In fact, the study found that there is just eleven days’ difference between those who have never left a job before six months and those who have.

So, recruiters who see a steady resume and assume the candidate will stay for a predictable length of time are statistically incorrect. Likewise, if you have had to leave a job before six months, or have held many jobs in the last five years, don’t feel too bad. Your future jobs may fare much better for you.

The challenge for you, if you’ve been a job hopper, is convincing your interviewer that hiring you involves little risk. Perhaps you can impress them with your cleverness by referencing this study when asked, “So tell me, why have you changed jobs so frequently?”


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Joshua Waldman

Author of Job Searching with Social Media For Dummies, Joshua is recognized as the authority for helping people find work using social media. His blog, Careerenlightenment.com, won the 2013 About.com Reader’s Choice award for best career blog for original content.