Employers’ bias against job hoppers


Posted on January 30, 2015

I’VE BEEN a job hopper since ten years ago and averages about two years per employer or five employers after my graduation from college. It’s just that I would not hesitate to apply for any job opportunity out there. Would my prospective employer consider my job-hopping record as a negative trait? -- Leap Frogging

Sometime ago, I visited a nursery in Laguna while looking for a certain type of fruit tree for the front yard of my residence in Parañaque City.

The Laguna nursery offers many possible options for me. Inside the nursery, I saw a sign that said: “The best time to plant a tree was 15 years ago.”

It was followed by a last line stating: “The second best time is today.”

You can no longer turn back the hands of time to erase your job hopping record. Besides, it’s more challenging and fun if you don’t keep tab of your score. Just do whatever you think is appropriate to pursue your career aspiration.

Every employer is expected to do a good job at hiring smart people. The trouble is that these employers look at the money side of things. Either they offer big money to pirate a fast-tracker or offer the best possible legal salary rate for those without any work experience. Let me repeat what I’ve written about in this space.

It’s not the money that makes smart people smart. But it’s the second best reason.

The first reason is how employers assign challenging work assignments to people. I’m not sure about your motivation in transferring from one employer to another. Is it money or something else? Unfortunately, you missed it out in your question. Recently, I talked to Nelly, a bank employee who confided her predicament to me. She was a consistent scholar in her undergraduate. Clearly, she has a lot of potential but she can’t imagine why she’s being reduced to doing menial tasks by her current employer.

Therefore, the question that needs to be answered is what makes you motivated and loyal to your current job? As long as you can give a convincing answer to any prospective employer, then you don’t have to worry about job-hopping record. Whether it may be considered as a plus-factor or a negative one will depend much on your answer to the following job interview questions:

“What makes you move a lot in your career? What motivates you in your work? What could make you stay longer in your job? Rank the following in terms of your priority: money, challenging work assignment, or excellent work relationship.”

Generally, employers are divided into two types: One group has a short-term mind-set or those who are interested in giving in to your asking pay and perk package. This group would not hesitate to give you a pink slip the moment you show some manifestations that were not uncovered during the hiring process.

The other group has a long-term mind-set which will offer you their most reasonable package (read: which is usually low) but gives you more opportunity to do your best as they guide you to do your best under different circumstances. Many decades back, I heard that SGV offers the average package but the training opportunities are tremendous. And this is what is important to people. It means that after a certain number of years with SGV, you can go anywhere and became more attractive to prospective employers.

But of course, you cannot generalize about employers like SGV.

Regardless of your job-hopping record or no matter what handicap you have (age, lack of graduate degree, physical, etc.), you can be employed everywhere. In fact, many employers out there have their own share of handicaps that they are not attractive to people in the job market. The employers’ handicap may vary, but it revolves around its size, industry, and profile of the owners, management style, and many more.

So when you go job hunting, take it from the perspective of the employer. Would my tendency to job hop keeps me from performing my job to the best of my ability? By the same token, you can also reflect on the following statement: “Compared to other companies, this company is too small for me as it limits my ability to shine in my chosen career.”

Instead of thinking of all possible biases why an employer might not hire you, why not shift your thinking to all the possible reasons why an employer would be lucky to hire you? Otherwise, it will not be helpful to your career. Just the same, don’t feel like a beggar hoping that some employers may ignore your job-hopping record and be compassionate toward your situation.

ELBONOMICS: When in doubt, focus on your strengths rather than your weaknesses.