Smile Politely

The Restless Job Hopper

When I worked at FedEx, the company had a policy in place that prevented employees from transferring to another position for a period of 18 months. This might seem like a long time to be held in a position, but it makes sense. It normally takes a minimum of three to six months for a new employee to get a grasp on their job. It might take another six months for the same employee to be autonomous in their position. After another six months or so, that employee might feel confident enough to train someone to learn their job. While this is all situational and dependent on numerous factors, it is still my opinion that it takes at least one to two years for a person to learn a job.

I now work for a new company. My employer has a transfer policy that enables current employees to apply for jobs after they have been in a position for six months. There are some definite pros and cons to this policy. I think that it favors the employee, most definitely. In my interviews, I tell my applicants that if they aren’t happy in a position after six months, they can apply for a transfer. This gives them some comfort; they know that they won’t be trapped in a job they might not like. I also tell my candidates that they can also apply for a promotion after six months, if a better opportunity comes available. This is a key benefit to the candidates who thinks that they can become a CEO in five years.

While the pros seem noteworthy, there are definitely some cons to this policy. As I stated before, it normally takes three to six months to train an employee. If I hire someone for a department, then the department must utilize their time and resources to train them for six months. If their newly-trained employee decides to transfer, then their current department suffers losses that can’t be recouped. Once their employee transfers, they will then have to hire, train and support a newer employee, who could also leave them in six months, thus creating even more hardship. Another con is that these premature transfers often have a domino effect. Most people form relationships in their departments, so when a coworker leaves, their comrades sometimes feel disparaged. These people normally follow suit shortly thereafter, thus creating another vacancy in the department (this just happened in one of my departments that I assist; the entire third shift staff is transferring, thus causing a great deal of pain).

In my opinion, I think that leaving a department or a company within the first year of employment shows a lot about a person’s character. It shows a lack of maturity, a lack of respect to an employer and it tells me that this person isn’t someone my company needs to invest in. Looking at applications and making a judgment about someone (on paper) isn’t easy to do. I am no arbiter and I’m definitely not Caesar, but I am a recruiter and I have a reputation to uphold. I need my managers to trust that I will screen applicants so that they will only get the most qualified candidates.

When I receive an application from a “job hopper”, I definitely don’t call them for an interview. I can’t afford to do this. On average, I have twenty to thirty job openings at one time. If I hired nothing but inconsistent people, those who abandon jobs or constantly seek other employment, then I would most likely double the number of job openings that I manage. What amazes me is that the people with the worst work history don’t seem to get why they aren’t being considered for a position. I get countless phone calls from irritable applicants who tell me that I have to hire them, because they are well qualified and diverse. When I get a call like this, I politely ask them to hold while I fetch their application. Once I have it, nine times out of ten the application is filled with about six or seven jobs in ten years. I then take the call off hold and explain to the applicant that while I agree that they are diverse, having jumped from job to job every year, their diversity isn’t what interests me. What I am interested in is finding someone who has been with a company for a decent amount of time (two to five years) and who has learned a variety of roles at the same job.

Most of the time, I blatantly tell applicants the truth. For example, if I have an applicant who has worked at Blockbuster from ’05-’06, Starbucks from ’06-’07 and Old Navy from ’07-present, then I tell them that if they can work at Old Navy for six more months, then I would be happy to call them in for an interview. I tell my applicants that I receive about 150 applications each week and that I am able to look for candidates with the best experience, with the best work history. I even sometimes relate my own experience to them.

In high school, I worked for a pro shop for three years, but once I went to college, I hopped around from job to job. A lot of them were seasonal or temporary work study jobs, but I still had quite a few of them. I changed jobs like I changed girlfriends, and this hurt me when I started looking for employment after college. I have just now gotten to the point where I value the job that I have and I don’t intend to leave it. I know that if I give my job enough time, the rewards will present themselves to me. I plan to keep this job until someone takes it away from me. I’m tired of starting over with new companies. I’ve decided to set my sights on a RV and a six pack of Hamm’s for my halcyon years.

I think that younger generations have lots of choices out there. They know that they have fallbacks, that if their job at the bookstore doesn’t pan out, then they can always fall back on Taco Bell. I don’t think this is a responsible attitude to have when thinking about employment. If you don’t have a parent who plans to give you a job or a business, then you are going to have to fight to get to the top. This takes time, perseverance, tenacity and humility. Sure, you might have to start off making $10 an hour filing papers, but that is only temporary. If you build up a good work history, then the next employer you choose won’t have to bite off all of their fingernails while trying to decide if they should hire you.

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