In a recent post, we tackled the notion that not every resume filled with short-term positions is a concern, and there are a number of valid ways a "job hopper" may have been created. In the end, you need to ask the right questions to learn more about each individual. If you do decide that the job-hopping applicant is the right fit for your organization, you'll still want to take the right measures to ensure your company doesn't end up as another notch in their belt.
How to uncover the truth about a job hopper's history
Are you evaluating a rising star who left various positions for valid reasons or is this a toxic worker who was pushed out of multiple organizations? This can be difficult to deduce through just a resume. If their skills and qualifications meet your requirements, bring them in for a job interview and learn more.
A smart job seeker will be aware that their job history is a concern and will be prepared to answer your questions on the topic. As hard as it is to believe, when you ask a candidate "Why have you had so many jobs?" they won't honestly tell you "Because I'm a terrible employee." Instead, ask questions like:
Why did you leave each position?
What made the new jobs attractive?
What did you accomplish at the short-term jobs?
What do you consider a "long time" to be with a company?
Where do you see yourself in 1 year? 5 years?
These questions will help you learn a lot about somebody's personality, loyalty, intentions, and expectations. The "right" answer will depend on your company's culture and the role itself, but in general, if their responses to leaving a job are always negative, salary is a consistent motivator for moving, they only want to be with a company for a couple years at most, and they have no goals or ambition for the near future, it's time to politely end the interview.
Alternatively, you may be satisfied with the responses and see that this person is a professional who was in some short-term positions and genuinely wants to build a career with your company -- great! There's just one more check before you can write-off the job hopping red flag. You need to verify the references as you would any other job applicant. Ask the candidate if you can contact people from companies where they had short tenures. This will allow you to confirm the truthfulness of the candidate's story.
If/when you hire the job hopper
It's natural to be a little nervous when you hire somebody, especially when they have a history of leaving positions quickly. So what steps can you take to make sure you're not another paragraph in their resume? First, ask them right-out for a commitment. Even if it's verbal, asking them to say they will stick around for a certain period of time will have an impact on some people. You could even offer incentives after an agreed-upon milestone. If your hunch is that your new-hire leaves companies because they get bored, then ensure you have plenty of challenges for them so they can continue to grow in your organization. Finally, if you're serious about keeping your employees, especially in a competitive industry, you'll need to make sure you are paying at market rates. In this Quora post, the tech professional realized that the only way he could get compensated fairly was to continuously job hop.
Have you ever hired a job hopper? How did it work out? Share your experiences in the comments below.