Despite the rising cost of living and the ongoing threat of layoffs, research shows that workers are still willing to walk out on employers who they don’t see eye to eye with.
It’s leaving employers feeling high and dry in a tight labor market, struggling to both fulfill roles and keep up with the competition.
So in a desperate bid to avoid taking on workers that might quit soon after being hired, employers are increasingly deterring job hoppers from applying to their job openings altogether.
One job ad which has recently gone viral on TikTok went as far as specifying professionals must have “no more than 3 jobs in the past 10 years” if they want to apply.
Career strategist Tessa White, who shared the posting with her followers, questioned whether the strict criteria is “even legal” while joking that “the eighties are back”.
The ad has drawn mostly backlash among users for penalizing aspirational professionals who have job-hopped to better their financial status. However, a handful of users defended the employer. “A job every 6 months is a red flag,” one said.
Employers must think so too because this posting isn’t a one-off: Fortune found numerous job ads from the last month across a variety of industries that have the exact same requirement. Some even go as far as to add “must have a stable work record.”
But while it’s clearly tempting to only recruit candidates with a track record of staying put, recruiters tell Fortune that it doesn’t reflect well on company culture and certainly isn’t inclusive.
Job hoppers get a bad rep, but shouldn’t
“This is a bad way to go about hiring,” Lewis Maleh, CEO of the global executive recruitment agency Bentley Lewis, puts it simply. “It implies that people who have stayed in a job for longer are somehow better at their job than someone who hasn’t.”
Job hopping has unfairly become synonymous with disloyalty, indifference, and chasing money.
But actually, Maleh explains that “people might have moved jobs for a whole bunch of different reasons—some within their control and some out of their control.”
By blocking candidates who have job hopped from even applying for a role, an employer won’t be able to understand why a candidate has had to change jobs, and is rooting the decision based solely on negative stereotypes and bias.
As Zahra Amiry, Omnicom Media Group’s associate director of talent attraction, says, in the last three years alone workers have experienced “a time of massive upheaval” because of pandemic-related redundancies, furlough and most recently, the Great Resignation.
“In today’s market it’s incredibly important to know the ‘why’ someone may have moved and the way to do that is to schedule a chat with that candidate,” she adds. “I wouldn’t personally encourage my team to dismiss a candidate with the right skillset without chatting to them and really understanding the reasons for the candidate’s moves first.”
By excluding candidates based on their tenure, employers are missing out on young talent who may have had to move slightly more regularly for development purposes, contractors, those who simply lost their job during the pandemic, and many others who have to change jobs for personal reasons.
“It’s important as an employer we try to be as inclusive as possible,” Amiry echoes.
Deterring job hoppers from applying is bad for business
Businesses today want (and need) diverse teams. As such, introducing exclusionary hiring practices is not only tone-deaf but also counterproductive.
“The modern workplace needs workers that have a wealth of experience from different roles and companies as well as employees who are long-standing and have deep knowledge of a particular industry,” Doug Rode, Managing Director UK & Ireland at the FTSE 250 recruitment firm, Michael Page says.
By having both “job-hoppers” and long-standing employees (or, as he says, “lifers”) in a team, Rode says that businesses can draw from the knowledge and experience of both groups.
“The crucial consideration is who is right for your business at the current time,” he adds. “And if a business can cultivate an environment where any type of worker can thrive, who knows, those ‘hoppers’ you hired might just turn into a ‘lifer.’”
But putting up a blanket requirement like “no more than 3 jobs in the past 10 years” isn’t the way to go about this.
Maleh recommends that leaders put their heads together and decide what their definition of job hopping is, instead of copying an arbitrary requirement from the internet.
This could look like defining the tenure that managers collectively feel is appropriate for various types of roles and the acceptable reasons for moving around. Do you make an exception for people that were laid off during the pandemic, for example?
“You have to decide this upfront and make sure everyone’s on the same page otherwise you’ll be hiring based on your biases which is not a good thing.”
But in the end, Maleh warns that strict no job hopping requirements “says an awful lot about what your culture is likely to be – and will deter people from applying.”