Spotting a job hopper is not as straight forward as counting the number of jobs someone has had in a certain span of time. A good look at the types of experiences and the reasons given for leaving each job, should give you an indication of whether the candidate is worth the time and financial commitment demanded to hire and bring him/her up to speed. [See the video blog version below]
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average American changes jobs every 4.6 years. Challenging market conditions over the past several years have made it more difficult for those trying to bolster their resumes and improve their average time at any given job. Still, with the high cost of employee turnover (links to Feb 24, 2014 blog topic), it’s important to avoid hiring a candidate who is not committed to the long term.
To spot the resume of a job hopper, look for multiple job changes in a short span of time – changes the candidate cannot explain satisfactorily. There are a few situations that may contribute to frequent job changes, but that does not necessarily indicate a problem with the candidate.
Before writing off an otherwise strong candidate because his/her resume has a few too many entries, give him/her a chance to defend their decisions. Ask questions that will help you determine the level of commitment the candidate has to your job opportunity. If he/she speaks in terms of learning opportunities and successes, and can back that up with specific accomplishments; they may very well be worth bringing on board.
Reference: Bureau of Labor Statistics http://www.bls.gov/news.release/tenure.nr0.htm