What to make of job-hoppers?


In the hiring process, many candidates apply who have a history of being a job-hopper. When looking at the resume, many candidates do not stay at previous jobs long. Whether it is six months, a year, or two years, the truth is that some individuals are regularly on the move.

The question many law firm owners and managers have are what they should do with job-hoppers? Do they give them a chance with the thought that their law firm is such a better environment that the candidate would stay with them for a long time? Or do they pass on the candidate and hire somebody else instead?

Every situation is different. Thus, you cannot apply a uniform rule or standard to every case. It is true as well that in the current climate, many individuals change jobs frequently. Millennials, in particular, are notorious as a demographic for moving jobs often.

Ultimately, a law firm owner or manager also has to ask themselves what they are looking for in a particular position. In other words, do they need somebody long-term for this position? Or is this a temporary or part-time position where the candidate does not need to stay long?

For example, if you are hiring a lawyer for your law firm, you probably want somebody who is going to stay for a certain period. Otherwise, clients generally will not like it if their attorney leaves in the middle of the case. You also face the risk with job-hopping lawyers that they are looking to springboard their own career versus help the law firm and their clients.

On the other hand, if the person is a receptionist, legal assistant, paralegal, many clients be upset if that person leaves. In some instances, they might not even realize the person has left.

However, pushing that all to the side, if you can get a candidate who has a track record of staying at a job a long time, that is usually a useful attribute.  Individuals who stay at jobs can often show the characteristics of perseverance, patience, and commitment. Most law firms need employees who carry these traits to assist the clients of the firm better.

Thus, if you are choosing between two candidates and one has a history of job-hopping, while one has a history of staying at jobs a long time, you might opt to pick the employee who has not job-hopped. To the extent you are still interested in the candidate who has changed jobs frequently, it is important to ask them about it.

In other words, ask them what they disliked and liked their previous positions. Ask them why they did not stay long. Then, ask them what they would be looking for in the position if they came to work for your law firm. At that point, you can hear what they have to say to see if their expectations match up with what you envision for the position.

It is vital as well that any candidate talks about their previous jobs with class and diplomacy. If there is a lot of negative talk about previous employers, this can often be a red flag. While not every employment relationship is the best experience, you generally want employees who will be discreet as it relates to their prior jobs. Being discreet shows a level of professionalism that is almost always vital in a law firm.

If you have any thoughts, feel free to discuss them below.

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