Today’s resumes are characterized by less time at organizations, and as a direct consequence, more employers. It’s a function borne both of technology and a workforce that is driven by higher expectations.
So, I’m always mystified at the outright rejection of candidates whose résumés are punctuated by such “employment hopping” under the assumption that the candidate is lacking in some way. I believe the inverse can be true: Candidates whose résumés are punctuated by more frequent stops are the very candidates that should be more seriously considered.
In the past, employers held all the cards. They defined the rules of the game. Employers hired a person who typically had the right educational lineage and held on to that individual for 20 to 30 years. This was a measure of success for the employer as well as the employee during a time wherein change was relatively nonexistent.
Today, that proposition is largely invalid. No longer do employers hire for this prospect; in fact, they find that it’s a flaw; people who stay in one position for that length of time have brought nothing new to the table, and in fact, have simply adapted to a position over time, while enduring the changes that technology and innovation have brought about. This is hardly a roadmap for success in technologically advanced environments.
Today’s new employee is driven by challenges; what can this organization do to enable my personal and professional growth? If it doesn’t stack up, the employee moves on. Isn’t this a trait that you, as a hiring manager, would want to see in a potential hire? Candidates with multiple employers on their résumé are likely looking for an employer who can provide this challenge. So, instead of impugning the employee for this, celebrate it. Look at the employers for whom the employee worked. Are they in the same space? If so, look instead at the length of time worked in that space as one employer. From this vantage point, it looks much more favorable.
What the new employee sees as opportunity is the new driving force of employment; a power shift has taken place. Employees now ask “what can the employer do for me?” before ever sitting across a desk from a hiring manager. Of course, you’ll look for competency, but if you, as a hiring manager, are looking for the guy that worked 20 years in one capacity at a single employer, you’ll probably end up with a person who has demonstrated no initiative to challenge either the employer, or him/herself. Is that the character trait you’re after? Can you live with some job-hopping on the one hand, in exchange for the knowledge that the person is perhaps reacting to uninspired employers, on the other?
Maybe the question should be, “Can your organization live with hiring an employee who will simply do what’s told, and be obedient for the next 10 years?” Because, that’s exactly what you’ll be getting when hiring somebody whose roadmap reflects this.
Careful vetting, of course, is required. Much can be determined from a face-to-face interview during which probing questions can unearth the reality of the résumé history. If you’re outright dismissing candidates with a higher than average number of employers, look instead at the opportunity that this presents, and explore the territory as an advantage, instead of dismissing what may be a highly qualified candidate for reasons that have disappeared long ago.
Dismiss the candidate whose transitory nature of employment cannot be legitimized via the interview process, but don’t dismiss outright the candidate whose frequent job changes marks a desire to find the right employer that will provide a challenging work environment. There are plenty of flawed employers out there for whom the latter is a justifiable reason for departure. Don’t be one of them on the merits of the former.