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Job hopping traditionally was considered moving from one company to the next every one to two years, multiple times. The reasons for these moves was due to something other than a layoff or company closure. However, times have changed and it is unusual for individuals to stay in a position or at a company for over 6 years. Studies show that the average number of years a worker stays with an employer is 4.6 years, for younger employees (20 - 34) it is half that, at 2.3 years.

So, what does that mean for employers? Many employers and recruiters have changed their expectations, but still look for patterns in work histories. One short-term stay in a job is not cause for concern, and neither is a series of short-term jobs that were designed to be short-term, such as contracts or internships. However, when there is a pattern of quickly leaving jobs that were not designed to be short-term, it can become a cause for concern for an employer.

Most professional jobs require at least 2-6 months for a new hire to really start owning their jobs, so if someone leaves after 6-12 months, that is a bad return on the employer's investment. So, as an employer, when hiring for professional roles that require this amount of time for a new hire to get settled and productive, a work history that demonstrates "job hopping" can be a legitimate concern. It can be a demonstration of instability and a lack of professionalism.

However, there are some industries and job types where job hopping can be advantageous for people and organizations. For example, individuals working in technology can gain a variety of valuable experience in different environments and cultures. Also, if candidates with a job hopping background have maintained and built their networks, this can be very valuable for a new employer, depending on the role. Job hopping can also demonstrate adaptability, if the candidate can fully explain their frequent job changes.

For employers, there are many factors to consider when looking at the work history of a candidate. A pattern of job hopping can be a sign of many things, but not always necessarily a negative sign. It is important to examine your expectations for the role as well as how much investment you are willing you put into a new hire. To gain more insight into candidate behavior, please check out the Candidate Motivation and Behavior Study.

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