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What We Called Job Hopping 5+ Years Ago Doesn’t Exist Anymore

Dinasaur We’ve written about this before, but it keeps rearing its ugly head.

The fact is, what we defined as job hopping 5+ years ago, doesn’t exist.

Job hopping was the term used to describe some unspecified job tenure. A job hopper was a candidate that because of job hopping, appeared to be undesirable as a candidate – almost always without regard to their skills, or their ultimate ability to perform the work the hiring company needed done. A job hopper was eliminated from contention solely based on the dates in their resume.

Like dinosaurs that failed to evolve, human resource people, hiring managers and leaders that ask for the proverbial purple squirrel, do so at their own peril.

Just like anything that senior decision makers control, the move to understand and respond to industry and market trends is all too often marked by the laggards.

To be sure, employees will continue to move from job to job with an increasingly shorter tenure in each position. Technology, products and services are changing too rapidly; many are no longer studied or produced. Telephones no longer plug into the wall with wires, email has all but been replaced by social media, and businesses don’t FAX documents anymore. Schools no longer train students to innovate and build things on the waning end of their lifecycle. When you look for a new employee to work on tomorrow’s technology, it’s unlikely that you’ll find a person with 5 years experience for your open position – so why write the job description that way?

On the other end of the scale, employee’s attention to one job has changed. One look at the data from 2014 Career Builder survey and it’s obvious that employer loyalty is down significantly. Part of that may be due to things employers are not doing to retain them. But much of it is more likely due to economics and fundamental shifts in how employees relate to the stimuli of work itself, and how they identify with their employer’s value. It’s neither good or bad – like all trends, it just is.

It’s been said many times, gone are the days of working for one employer like GE, Motorola, Kodak, or IBM…; the majority of workers now do not look for that long-term track. Instead they look for growth and opportunity that stimulates their interests. Yet, recruiters continue to get requests from companies to find someone with 5, 10, or more years experience at one company, or in one job role.

It’s time to stop asking for what doesn’t exist.

The Career Builder survey shows that 1 in 5 workers are going to change jobs this year. And, of dissatisfied workers (simply put, their initiative or motivation is driving them to look for more challenge) over half, 58%, plan on changing jobs in 2014. That last statistic shows why average job tenure is under 2 years.

Sure, there is a job behavior issue that an employee may exhibit where for a unacceptable reason, they move from job to job. However, you can’t tell this by looking at a candidate’s resume.

Rely on your recruiter to explore the reasons each job was concluded.

There may be good reasons for the job changes. One good one is the rapid rise in the temporary workforce – which by its nature will have short tenure positions. Your firm doesn’t want to overlook a good candidate using an algorithmic (end date minus start date) process. Certainly, your competitors are more creative in bringing in talent that can perform the job, without pre-eliminating them for the wrong reasons.

Your company can choose three approaches to short job tenure.

  1. Early Adopter. Your company is quick to understand trends, and see how they are changing the workforce. Your company’s human resources team has a seat at the table in the executive suite and is active in key decision making that affect the future of the company, its organizational development, and ultimately the ability to achieve corporate goals. Your company does not eliminate good candidates for having short job tenure.
  2. Early Majority. Your company sees other companies making the shift and winning the talent race. In your industry, these competitors are forging a path of production numbers that you see potentially hitting your bottom line, so you respond early enough, and adopt active performance-based recruiting, and begin to forget about short tenure when you find candidates that can do the job and perform the work.
  3. Laggards. If your company is a laggard at recognizing the trend and shift of employee job tenure approaching one year, you are doomed. You will be hiring the unmotivated, employees who lack initiative. These employees have not been attracted to positions of increasing responsibility. As your organization fills with unmotivated employees, you wonder why you need more managers to tell them what to do. Your costs go up, and your productivity goes down.

You may have noticed that these terms come from Geoffrey Moore’s crossing the chasm terminology. They apply here to adopting change and building the workforce of the future. Companies today don’t want to be laggards, and should prefer to be Early Adopters. Early Adopters are setting the future trends for hiring. They learn through failure and course-change. Their learning culture shows their values and attracts the employee of the future generations to take the company further both in the short term and long term.

Don’t get caught up in trying to find a candidate with years of experience doing the same job. The behavior characteristics are not going to align with the rapid pace of change your company needs to grow in today’s business and economic environment. One can imagine the protest that dinosaurs gave as they failed to recognize the signs of change, and are now gone.

Barton Professional Placement Group is available for clients ready to have an open discussion on the key workforce changes that are happening right now. Serious leaders are already ahead of this curve as the baby boomer generation exits the workforce in the coming 10 years. Call us today for a frank discussion on how we can help your company prepare for the future.