Times Have Changed, But Hr Still Frowns On ‘Job-Hopping’ - Survey

By admin
20 May 2015

Although the notion of loyalty to a company has changed dramatically over the past decade, 89% of hiring managers from SA’s leading companies polled in a recent survey say that perceived job-hopping will hurt a candidate’s chances of landing a position.

The survey by top SA search firm Jack Hammer Executive Headhunters, found that almost 90% of HR managers also said candidates would have to provide a very good explanation for repeated instances of short tenure at the companies they worked for.

There were only few exceptions to this stance on short tenure, one of which came from a company in the Leisure industry, whose respondent said that loyalty was considered “a thing of the past”, so tenure was not a factor. She added that there could be various reasons for short stays at companies that were not related to the candidate, but to the environment.

However all the other companies answered a resounding yes to the question: “When screening a candidate, are you influenced by perceptions regarding tenure?” These companies spanned a host of sectors, including FMCG, Financial Services, Industrial and Mining.

Debbie Goodman-Bhyat, CEO of Jack Hammer Executive Headhunters, says although companies acknowledge the changed reality regarding tenure, and even though nobody still expects a person to have stayed with a company for a decade or more before moving on, repeated instances of short tenure still raise red flags and could hurt a candidate’s chances of securing a new job.

Therefore there was still value in candidates being very careful about their decision to leave a company, and their decision to join another.

“As critical as it is for companies to ensure they appoint candidates that are a right fit, it is also important for individuals to ensure they investigate not only the role and package, but also the company culture before they make a move. It is always worthwhile to first seek solutions to any challenges in a current position before deciding to pack it in and join another company,” she says.

Respondents in the Tenure and Perceptions Survey were also asked what they considered to be too short a period of time with a previous company without a good explanation for moving.

55% of them considered less than a year to be problematic, with 45% considering a stay of between one and two years too short.  Although everyone allowed for the possibility that there could be one instance of short tenure on a candidate’s CV, 45% of respondents said they drew the line at two such stints and another 45% said 3 repetitions would be unacceptable.

Asked what their perceptions would be of a candidate who appeared to be moving often from one company to another, several managers said it was an indication of poor judgment, and 20% considered it to be an indication of poor performance. Other respondents said it indicated a lack of resilience, or was a sign that individuals had not given companies or positions a fair chance, and probably had not delivered either.

On the positive side for those candidates with question marks hanging over their past experience, 67% of respondents said that this would not necessarily influence their ultimate decision to hire or not. However, candidates should be able to give good reasons for their movements or be able to provide trusted references who can provide additional insights, they said.

“If a job-hopping candidate was up against a more stable candidate, we would definitely go with the stable one,” said one respondent, with another adding: “Patterns are predictive.”

Goodman-Bhyat says it is clear that one or two instances of short tenure would not necessarily signal the death knell for an application.

“But it is important for individuals to carefully manage their careers right from the start, as tenure patterns certainly play a role when first impressions are formed. Even if you are able to adequately motivate short stays at companies, it is possible that this could influence the way your CV is viewed, or the way your candidature is considered during the final decision making process.

“Nobody expects someone to stay in a role or company where the fit is not right. However individuals who are serious about their careers must show through their career timeline that they have applied themselves in a mature and consistent way.”

*The report, entitled ‘Executive Talent: Get them, Keep them’, investigated the challenges faced by businesses in attracting and retaining top executives while ensuring continued transformation. The survey was conducted for Jack Hammer by independent research consultancy EIGHTY20, and questioned hundreds of mid-to-high level executives across several categories, including remuneration, role, expectations and company culture.


For more information contact:

Debbie Goodman-Bhyat at Jack Hammer Executive Headhunters on 021 425 6677 (www.jhammer.co.za) or Gwen at Lange 360 at gwen@lange.co.za