Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Kristen Fife's Blog

What Does Job Hopping Say About You?

2015-08-26 16:05:57

There is a young couple I know that moved to Seattle just about a year ago right after she had finished her Master's degree in the midwest. Seattle agrees with them overall. Both of them found jobs quickly, albeit they were not their "dream" jobs. She started with a company that turned out was a bad fit, and ended up only staying 8 months. She found another job quickly, but after a few months she is now concerned because there is no advancement opportunity and she is considering trying to find something else. I did tell her that she should try and stick it out for a year, and she was very quick to point out that she found *this* job in a week.

But here's the thing. Her previous role was her first job out of grad school, in a new city that has a healthy economy. Turns out it wasn't a good fit, so she found something new, which is OK. Her reason for leaving the current role is lack of growth, not a toxic work environment. (Neither of them was retail/hospitality, both were office jobs.)

As a recruiter, if she applied to a job I was hiring for, she would probably not even make a first run of short-list candidates, and here is why.

-Obvious lack of commitment to full time employers. It takes a lot of time, money, and resources to train a new person for any job.
-What skills can she possibly have learned in such short stints? Companies hire for longevity and flexibility
-Candidate exhibits no direction in making career choices

-Something must be wrong with this candidate if she cannot manage to stay employed in two entry level jobs in less than a year.

Even if, for some reason, she made it to a phone screen with a recruiter, by saying a she is leaving a job she has only been in for four months due to "lack of opportunity", my first thought would be, "well then why did you take the job in the first place" and my second would be, "wow, my company has a policy of requiring employees to stay in their jobs at least a year before looking for a promotion...obviously she is not a fit." (The "one year in one job" policy is pretty standard with most medium to large companies.) Finally, "Unrealistic expectations, isn't willing to learn everything she can for a year...more effort than she is worth."

I have built a reputation and career for myself as a recruiter, but before that, I spent more than a decade contracting to build my skills. It wasn't easy, and I was living on meager wages for longer than I care to contemplate at this point. But the difference is, I *contracted*; I learned on the job at companies that valued a finite amount of time in a role, and I completed EVERY CONTRACT I ever held. For someone that has a difficult time settling on one job/company, contracting may be a viable way to go. It was a somewhat precarious lifestyle, but it has paid off for me in the end.

Every career opportunity is a tradeoff: benefits, money, work-life balance, career advancement. I would never counsel someone to stay in a toxic work environment. But I will say that the majority of my hiring managers don't want to talk to someone with a ton of short employment stints (less than a year) unless they are in a known poor economic geography - which Seattle has not been for the last several years. For someone just out of school and very little work experience, this is the equivalent of long-term career suicide.

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