Can job-hopping be positive for companies and employees?

The "Grass is Greener" issue is the core driver of employee attrition, especially for Millennials.

Entrepreneur magazine recently published an article about how to screen job candidates who appear to be job hoppers. The article offers some great advice, especially for evaluating those have years (or decades) of professional experience. As Rita Hartley mentioned in her TED talk last year, these “scrappers” can be tremendous employees. But what about those job-hoppers who are also career launchers? It is much harder to understand the career pathway and assess the real professional skills of someone who only recently graduated college.

Parker Dewey has first researched why career launchers seem to job hop more today than in the past. While some like to claim that millennials don’t want traditional full-time jobs, having spoken with thousands of college students and recent grads, we know this is not accurate. Others claim that this is the result of companies trying to lower fixed labor costs, but this too is false as companies recognize the benefit of developing talent internally.

The reality is that most job-hopping by career launchers is the result of either a poor fit, or the lack of context to know there is in fact a great fit. Unlike prior generations, recent grads are constantly inundated with reasons they should be unhappy at their job, whether it is the suit-and-tie employee seeing an Instagram post from a friend wearing flip-flops to work while petting the company dog, or the member of a start-up getting an InMail message from a recruiter promising a grandiose title and benefits. Without having the context to understand that the proverbial grass is not always greener, career launchers are much more willing to quit for a new opportunity within these perceived greener pastures.

There are of course many situations where the fit is truly bad, which should also not be surprising given the limited data upon which a hiring decision is made. Unlike hiring an experienced professional, a company cannot use artifacts from prior work experience or insightful professional references when selecting a career launcher. Although recruiters have started looking beyond university brand and GPA since neither effectively predicts job success, these video interviews, assessments, and other tools are equally flawed for a variety of reasons.

To that, we believe that quickly hopping between different companies is actually a really good thing that benefits both career launchers and companies. We are not talking about the type of job-hopping that takes place when an employer and / or employee expect and invest in a long-term relationship, but rather the mutually beneficial career exploration that can occur even before college graduation. By working on a mix of short-term projects for a variety of companies of different sizes across industries, career launchers can better demonstrate their professional skills to prospective employers, evaluate their areas of interest, and understand the relative benefits and challenges across companies and roles. As a result, when a company hires one of these career explorers for a full-time role or internship, they do so knowing that he or she already has an understanding of the relative pros and cons, and will not jump ship upon the first bad day or call from a recruiter.

Not only can career launchers evaluate different careers paths, companies can also explore candidates across colleges, majors, backgrounds... By removing the commitments and risks associated with a full-time hire, internship, or co-op, companies can identify the “diamonds in the rough” that might not otherwise make it over their traditional but non-predictive hurdles. This allows companies to build a strong, proprietary pipeline of proven talent who have the grit and loyalty to thrive. Not only does this decrease attrition and improve performance, it also encourages authentic diversity and community support initiatives.

While Parker Dewey is trying to do its part to support this career exploration, we rely on our corporate clients to provide these opportunities for career launchers. Fortunately, every company has tasks that are either ignored or being done by an employee for whom it is not the best use of time. By allowing career launchers to complete these assignments, not only do companies get immediate leverage, but they can identify, evaluate, and build authentic relationships with these amazing career launchers while supporting their communities.