When I was a recruiter, I was trained to be wary of candidates with a history of job hopping. “People who only spend a year in a position tend to be the people getting fired repeatedly,” I was told. And that means they’re terrible at their jobs and you shouldn't even trust them to grab someone with a cup of coffee.” While it was common to frown upon job hoppers in the past, it’s unwise to rule out a developer’s CV just because you notice a “track record” of changing jobs frequently. Here are a few reasons why you should do a deeper dive on a developer’s resume when you notice that he or she looks like a “job hopper” on paper.
Our CEO Joel Spolsky once wrote that the best way to hire talented developers is to recruit them before they ever hit the open market. Not only does that mean targeting candidates who have just completed college or a programming bootcamp, but it often requires you to recruit developers who are still in the thick of their programs. As a result, many of the resumes you’ll review will include temporary positions or internships these developers held while they were still students. A quick resume review might lead you to conclude that he or she has a bad habit of changing jobs frequently. But while Priscilla Claman at the Harvard Business Review recommends that candidates should list these roles in separate sections on their resumes, she also argues that these types of candidates are less “serial job hopper” and more “workaholic.”
Here’s the thing: developers have a lot of job options, but the reality is that a good percentage of them don’t currently hold their dream roles. In fact, 65% of the developers who responded to our survey this year aren’t in jobs they love, so it shouldn’t surprise you to find that job hopping developers are fairly common. Of course, you shouldn’t let a candidate off the hook just because the job hopper stigma isn’t quite as prevalent as it once was. But that’s also not a good enough reason to completely ignore a developer who has jumped around a bit. If a job hopping developer’s resume shows you that he or she has the skills you’re looking for, don’t be afraid to schedule a phone interview to learn more. You might find out that they’re not particularly good at what they do, but you also might discover any number of circumstances that led a talented developer to switch roles more often that he or she would have preferred.
I’ve lost count of how many times people have told me that job hoppers are some of the most disloyal employees you’ll ever hire. When it comes to recruiting developers, that couldn’t be further from the truth, especially considering that over 41% say that company culture is one of the most important things they consider about any new job opportunity. Not only is it unfair to assume that all job hoppers only look out for themselves, ignoring their applications could be costing you the most talented candidates on the market. As Dr. John Sullivan wrote in regards to job hoppers, “They may actually be superstars who merely change jobs frequently because they are so good, and they are continually offered many new and higher-level opportunities (that their current firm simply can’t or won’t match).”