Job Seekers

How Important is Job Stability?


Job Stability is the main thing most of my clients are looking for in a candidate, after the basic education and technical skills. Recruiters and hiring managers used to have guidelines like no more than 2 jobs in the last 10 years, or not less than 3 years on any job, and would absolutely rule out any candidates who didn’t meet those criteria. These ‘rules of thumb’ are from the 1980’s however, and this scenario is becoming rarer with each passing year, as the baby boomers are replaced in the workforce by generation X and generation Y and the employer/employee implied contract has dissolved.

While the definition of a Stable Job History is changing, that doesn’t make the concept any less important to the hiring company. The economics of that are simple. There are considerable up-front costs associated with hiring most professionals, and the longer someone stays the less those costs are, on an annualized basis. These costs include training, both formal and learning-curve, relocation costs, and recruitment costs. These can add up to tens of thousands of dollars.

So, what does that mean for you as an employee? You do not want to be labeled as a Job Hopper. In 2017, that means someone who changes jobs every 1-3 years without an obvious valid reason. Valid reasons include ‘good’ things like more responsibility, or could include ‘bad’ things such as a plant closing or an acquisition that resulted in the elimination of redundant positions.

Reasons that are not valid include quitting, being fired, being laid off when no one else was laid off, or making a backward or lateral move. There is widespread advice not to include reasons for job changes on a resume, instead saving it for the interview if asked, but I disagree. A company recruiter will look at your resume and decide if you are a Job Hopper in about 20 seconds, and you will not get the chance for explanation. Highlight why you made the change, especially if was not for an obvious increase in responsibilities.

If you are a hiring manager, especially if you are in the baby boomer generation, my only advice is to be careful applying the old rules of thumb, or you risk passing over some good candidates in the current environment.

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