Dear Judy Job Jumper….

judy job hopper

Dear Judy,

I like you, I really do. Your resume is gorgeous, dare I say you’re perfect on paper in many aspects. You’ve got the keywords that I’m looking for, worked for the right companies, graduated with a fabulous degree and it looks like you’ve kind of progressed through your career, hop by hop.

But here’s the thing.  You stay at a company for 6 months to 18 months. Never 24 months, never hitting at least the three year mark.

That’s not good.  Sure, I can see everyone wants to hire you and you’re hire-able.  But I need to hire you and have you stay.  For a while.  And your track record? I’m not so sure you’ll stay even though you’ll tell me in the interview that you will.  You may have told your current employer the same thing, and here you sit, talking to me.

It takes a lot of investment, by our team and financially to help bring a hire onboard. Wondering how much? Well there are tons of articles and blogs online, but Careerbuilder did a decent assessment of it at one point here. And your lack of stability, i.e. the ability to stay onboard a company for more than 24 months lets me know that you don’t stay through the good times and the bad.

And there are good times and bad times at every company, to give you a perfect example? At one of prior employers, six weeks after I was hired, they were acquired.  And it was at the beginning of the Great Recession.  I could’ve hopped, but I stuck it out.  That two year mark is magic….if you can hang in there, do it. Challenges in the work environment are a good thing, and I need to see you’ve faced them… I need someone who’s going to see the tough times through… and the good times too.  I look for that in a resume, sticking with a company for a number of years along with career progression.  It’s a good thing.  It means you can commit.

So Judy, I can’t hire you now.  Stay at your current employer for 3 years, and then give me a call.  I’ll be happy to talk to you then.

– Kelly

P.S. See the notes from my friends in the comments…

FOT Background Check

Kelly Dingee
Kelly Dingee is a Strategic Recruiting Manager for Staffing Advisors. She has extensive sourcing experience having worked for AIRS, as a Sourcing Researcher/Technical Writer, performed contract sourcing for Thales Communications, Inc., and got hers start in the profession while a full life cycle recruiter at Acterna (now known as JDSU).  Lucky for Kelly, she had a boss who could see the potential of sourcing candidates from the web, and in 1998, she stepped into a newly created sourcing role. No truth to the rumor that she has a side business to help you push your resume to the top of Google search results...

14 Comments

  1. R. J. Morris says:

    Awesome letter, Kelly. Another issue I have—it’s hard to really believe all of the great accomplishments in someone’s background during such short tenures. How can you make an impact on complex and large projects during 12, 14, 7 and 15 month stints?

    Reply
    • Cori says:

      I disagree. There are many consultants who go into an environment for less than two years and have a great impact on the company and leave it truly changed. It is possible to accomplish great things in short spans of time. I completely redid the compensation strategy and design of a small company and had it implemented and running in four months. It’s frustrating to see that instead of some employers viewing me as a hard-working and dedicated, they would see me as a liar. However, I don’t believe this article was aimed towards those in contract work.

      Reply
      • Antonia Siemaszko says:

        Exactly. There is however a difference in contract work. A contractor goes in with either a set timeline or a set project. When the timeline runs out or the project is done, they go to the next thing. Judy isn’t a contractor. And if Judy *is* a contractor her resume should make this absolutely clear.

        Reply
  2. Val Matta says:

    Great read! Many professionals don’t understand the importance of employer loyalty. So, before you even apply to a job, make sure you can see yourself there for a substantial amount of time. You can do this by checking out their company values, their results and their reviews. All of this can assist you in making a more sound employment decision.

    Reply
  3. TalentTalks says:

    I’m feeling a bit conflicted about this one… Even though I can appreciate the concept of longevity and loyalty being valuable to a future prospective company, I don’t think it is always fair to assume the worst about someone that appears to be a job hopper.

    Obviously, if someone is just bouncing around for insignificant reasons, that’s a red flag. Or, taking jobs knowing they aren’t a true fit is a sign that they may have some impulsive decision-making tendencies.

    But, what about those that just happen to end up in a dead-end or dysfunctional situation and decide to cut their losses sooner rather than later? Or, those that find themselves in an unstable business where their position is eliminated because they were the last one hired and first eliminated when budgets get cut?

    I know plenty of people that left jobs after short stints for extremely valid reasons like hostile environments, bullying, ethical problems, etc. – yet of course, they have to avoid any mention of such things when being interviewed. I also know people that left positions under 2-3 years because it was obvious there would be no opportunity for career progression in the next decade unless someone died.

    Candidate due diligence doesn’t always reveal the skeletons in the closet pre-hire. And, some things or people in the corporate world are so outrageous (egotistical, malicious, psychotic) that no one would even imagine anticipating those possibilities unless they’ve already experienced something or someone similar before.

    Being under-challenged or even subjected to abusive (or illegal) behavior is not something that one should stick with for a minimal amount of time just to satisfy some superficial milestone. Some of the people that I’ve encountered that had the longest tenure at companies were the least ambitious and had no incentive to remain competent.

    Those that move around a bit more frequently are actually forced to adapt and learn quicker and may even be more driven and proactive in their career management. They may even bring a more diverse skillset that they would lack had they stayed put in one place.

    I enjoyed the article, but it made me feel that another perspective might be in order.

    ~KB @TalentTalks

    Reply
  4. Beth says:

    I was at my last job for more than four and a half years, and then potential employers were asking me why I stayed so long! Yeeeeesh.

    is there an ideal length of time to stay with a company?

    Reply
  5. Kelly Dingee says:

    RJ – you are getting where I’m coming from….alot of employers look at the lack of tenure and wonder how many projects you’ve actually seen through to completion and beyond.

    Val – thank you

    Beth – 4.5 years? Awesome. Be honest. Tell them if you enjoyed your job, if you were working on a project that you wanted to see through, if you knew there was an opportunity to get exposure to different work and grow your experience. I’m betting the answers are somewhere within those concepts.

    KB – love the blog within a blog. Here’s the deal, a job jumper is someone who does it consistently – more than twice and have not labeled themselves a consultant…(consultants look like job jumpers but it’s the nature of their business.)

    Obviously in 2007 we headed into a terrible recession…but if someone has held 3 or 4 jobs at the CFO level in that time frame (6 years)…they’re not a good candidate. If a DIrector of HRIS has held 3 or 4 jobs in a 6-7 year time period, same deal. Those are prime examples of positions that require a number of years of continuity.

    Bad stuff happens….lay-offs….mismatches….and of course to be melodramatic….hostile work environments, bullying, terrorist acts, etc. No doubt it’s unpleasant for all parties….but when it happens consistently (again more than 2x to be a job jumper) and there’s more a pattern of job jumping then buckling down and seeing things through, that’s an issue and could be why some candidates are not getting hired. Over the last few years there’s been an underlying theme that this is an accepted practice for millenials….at some point stability is wanted by all. Companies make a significant investment in onboarding and training beyond the other fiscal commitments of a new hire so it is in their best interest to have a new hire succeed.

    All…..Thanks for the feedback….always good to hear all p.o.v.

    kd

    Reply
  6. Leanne Chase says:

    Dear Kelly –

    We don’t believe what you say in the interview either. We want to, but we’ve been burned so many times. So we’re a bit skittish. And then you lure us in and we believe you and then, well, things change and it turns out that what you told us doesn’t hold. So well…we leave. This is a relationship – a 2-way street. It’s not all about you – it’s about us, too. The sooner HR gets that, the smoother this process will be.

    But for now we reserve the right to break up with you as needed.

    Signed,

    One who has been bait & switched before

    Reply
  7. Corey says:

    This is an interesting article to read at a time when I’ve recently left the consulting side to re-enter the full-time employee side of the equation. In 1999, I took a full-time position and stayed for over 6 years. Then I took another FTE position and stayed for nearly 3.5 years, and left that position just as the economy really started to fail. When I left that FTE position, I was nervous about how I’d land. I really didn’t want another FTE position, so I started my own consulting business, which turned into consulting for a few different consulting/contracting positions. After almost years of bouncing around (1/3/6/12 month contracts, sometimes having multiple clients at the same time, etc.), I was ready to go back to work for one company for a good long time. It took almost 18 months to find the right fit, while I continued to take contracts, before someone was willing to listen to my story about WHY I started down the contractor path.

    I’m glad it took as long as it did, because one week in? I’m in the job description I wrote nearly 5 years ago, working for a company I truly respect, and with passionate, committed people. The varied and intense experiences I had over the past 4 years are already bearing fruit here, and the flexibility it’s given me (from a mentally ‘prepared for anything’ perspective) has made the transition in nearly seamless.

    Sometimes that bouncing-around is because of a lack of commitment to your employer. Sometimes it’s because you are passionately looking for the right fit. I understand the original poster’s thought process completely. Judy Job Jumper exists. I’ve met her, and she’s not fun to work with, because she’s always on the lookout for the Next Best Thing. At the same time, she tends to be very motivated to do well on whatever she’s been assigned to, because being successful will give her additional opportunities, and another feather to put on her resume.

    It’s a knife that cuts both ways… But having at least one longish engagement shows you’re willing to stay for the long haul, and I think that’s the key. Show you meant it at least ONCE, so hiring managers are willing to take a chance on you.

    Reply
  8. Greg Modd says:

    I respectfully disagree. If someone moves from job to job and it’s career growth every time that is completely acceptable. I’d hire them and do what I could to keep them. To me it seems you’re unable to keep top talent if you’re worried they will jump ship.

    Reply
  9. Kelly Dingee says:

    Leanne – no doubt….the great state of Maryland is an employment at will state so that’s completely fair.

    Rumno – yep – it’s a two way street.

    Corey – bravo.

    kd

    Reply
    • Jayson Mendoza says:

      Kelly,

      I think that is only half the story, and in particular the comments around the Melinnials and Generation Y.

      In my view this is a stage of transition in the workforce with the new generations. You see, there have been lots of changes in the work force that has made some of those views dated. However I will be the first to admit that not all those changes are good, and balance still needs to be found.

      If you look deeper into the formula, another thing has changed too….Loyalty. It was once expected that an employee would find a company that fit’s them, and stay there for decades or even life. While changes in the economy didn’t make this possible all the time, companies generally invested in training as it was expected that you would generally develop your talent and recruit from within via promotions.

      However the job force has changed with university degree’s being a dime a dozen. Somewhere along the way corporations became heavier on external contracting, external recruitment for positions, and the emphasis on training was lost. In many work places today, “training” looks more like orientation.

      Perhaps the biggest change is that your Gen Y and Melinnials are a different employee. They have high expectations for their employer, and expect a 2 way relationship in both communication and flexibility. They want to be part of the discussion, and operate better when they understand the “why”.

      Above all, they measure a companies loyalty to them with more then monetary compensation placing more emphasis on things like work-life balance, flexibility, work environment, and communication. This has been a challenge for many companies, because few do all these things well as they have never been as important before as they are now. Some are very difficult to control, and require deeper thought on the executive level. For example work environment and communication are structural changes, and require thought going into how it should look like, flow, and what kind of personalities do you need to make that happen. It means recruiting based on behaviors instead of just credentials in order to build a team.

      The work-life balance is a big challenge to companies because it’s moving in the opposite direction to the previous trend for productivity. In this digital world so much focus was placed on getting extra productivity out of employee’s by making them available at any time via mobile devices. However this work creep is causing push back, and if you place no thought in this when you sent your company standards you run the risk of pushing work creep too much, and having your best talent in the newer generations move elsewhere.

      IT’s a new world, and the companies that will be successful in the future will learn how to harness the strengths the newer generations bring to the table, rather then frustrating themselves attempting to make them conform. They are your future, and therefore the future of your companies.

      Reply
      • Jayson Mendoza says:

        I apologize for the errors in the above posting. I did not take the care to edit this as I quickly typed it out.

        Reply
  10. Kelly Dingee says:

    Jayson…fair assessment.

    But the thing is…I work in retained search which means clients come to us with their jobs in hand and what they want. And consistently over the past three years that I’ve been with the firm they have said….

    “no job jumpers”

    None. Nada. And we find them. So they exist.

    And if candidates are wondering why they can’t get hired by company xyz, they should take a close look at their history and how it’s perceived.

    kd

    Reply

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