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. We discussed this in a previous blog on hiring the older worker (read that post here).
So 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 with the company, 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 2011, 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. An HR manager 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 be careful applying rules of thumb from the 1980's. I know we all used to say things like 'no more than 2 jobs in the last 10 years', or 'not less than 3 years on any job', but you risk passing over some good candidates in the year 2011.
About the author: Paul Sturgeon is business manager with KLA Industries (www.klaindustries.com) based in Cincinnati, OH, an executive search firm specializing in plastics and polymer technology. If you have a topic you'd like to see discussed, a company that is growing, or other ideas for his blog, e-mail Paul at [email protected].