HR Mistake Of The Week: Ruling Out A Job Hopper Could Mean Ruling Out A Perfect Hire

Is it a bad bet to hire a job candidate who has switched jobs often in the past? A new study says no: There’s no connection between the number of positions a job candidate has held and how long they’ll hold onto a future job. It turns out one of the HR industry’s most treasured red flags may not be as useful as you think.

A long resume for a relatively short career has traditionally been a tool for HR departments and recruiters to rule out candidates from a large pool of applicants. As explained by the recruiter-focused website ERE, many recruiters use job-hopping as a factor in screening out potential employees, particularly in service industries. If a candidate has held many short-term jobs, she may not make the cut when she applies to the next one. That’s an understandable assumption for HR departments and recruiters to make. The only problem is that the stats don’t back it up.

When Evolv, a firm that provides data-driven analysis to help companies with recruitment and retention, examined whether a job hopper makes a poor hire, here’s what they found:

The results show zero correlation between the number of positions employees have had in the recent past and how long they’ll last on their next job. A candidate who’s had five jobs in five years is no more likely to quit than someone who’s had one job for five years.

Evolv also found that an unemployed person who applies to a job will have the same job tenure as any other applicant. As ERE puts it, “These results indicate that one of the most common screening tactics for employers may actually have no value in predicting future employment success.” Tossing out unemployed applicants, or those with a history of short-term jobs, may mean tossing out the right applicant for the job.

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