It’s common and even expected that marketers dedicated to growing their career will make several strategic moves between companies pursuing a more compelling experience, increased autonomy, better compensation, etc. And in most cases, they’ll take those steps up much more quickly and frequently than the average professional content to steadily work their way up one company.
Without knowing someone personally, it’s hard to discern between someone who is making frequent career moves to improve their personal growth vs. someone who is selling themselves to the highest bidder at any given moment.
But another class of worker has emerged that also makes frequent career moves, usually chasing their primary motivator: a higher salary. They go by many names; but here we usually call them “job hoppers.” Job hoppers bounce around from company to company, hardly settling into one job before returning to the search for their next 10% raise. In the long run this will hurt their career options, leaving them forever stuck in middle management. But in the short term they’re able to see quick gains in compensation.
In most cases, the ambitious career-oriented marketer is just the person you want to hire. They’re driven, proactive, goal-oriented…all the things you want in an employee. They’re eager to learn and well worth the investment, even if they’re only with you for a few years.
On the other hand, you want to avoid hiring job hoppers who don’t care about their career or their employer; only getting a higher paycheck. You’ll usually lose money hiring job hoppers, who tend to leave before they’ve even been fully onboarded and generated ROI.
Picking out the Bad Apples
So how can you tell the difference? Without knowing someone personally, it’s hard to discern between someone who is making frequent career moves to improve their personal growth vs. someone who is selling themselves to the highest bidder at any given moment.
A quick glance at their resumes might even make them look quite similar, at least to the untrained eye; especially in an industry as dynamic as marketing. New fields emerge on a regular basis, opportunities come and go, clients and the jobs they create are cyclically gained and lost. Marketing is already a relatively active field for most professionals moving both horizontally and vertically.
If you want your marketing to support sustained growth, it’s important to bring in a constant stream of ambitious marketers without getting burned by too many job hoppers. Luckily, with some experience it becomes possible to distinguish them early in the recruiting process and separate the wheat from the chaff. Here are a few telltale signs to look for:
1. They Don’t Stick Around to Get Results
This is the biggest red flag marketing recruiters use to identify a guilty job hopper. They consistently fail to invest themselves into a job long enough to impact the business before moving on to the next shiny opportunity.
On the other hand, ambitious marketers are driven by results. They can’t rest until they know they’ve done their job right—and have the evidence to prove it to themselves and others. And no matter how good of marketers they are, that takes time.
How long? It varies, but usually we expect most career stages with a company to last at least 3-4 years or so. That’s the minimum range we’ve found necessary for most marketers to realistically settle into a job, fully understand the organization and its industry, learn what’s needed from them, get good at it and have an opportunity to make a demonstrable positive difference over a period of time. And the larger the organization, the more time it typically takes to get that momentum going.
Avoiding false positives: Not every short spell of work is a sure sign of a job hopper, especially in this industry. Many marketing jobs, especially early on in careers, are not particularly stable. Agency life in particular can be notoriously uncertain, and job security low. Some cases, like mistreatment of workers, call for leaving the environment as soon as possible. And marketing staffing work is becoming more and more popular. So one or two short stints throughout an otherwise stable career shouldn’t be enough to disqualify someone alone. Look for a consistent trend of results and verifiable accomplishments.
2. They Don’t Know Where Their Career is Going
Ask any ambitious marketer driven by their career where they want to be in 5, 10, 15 years and they’ll have an answer. It might not be very specific, but they’ll at least have a general vision of the kind of work, responsibility and lifestyle they’d like to have at those points. And just as importantly, their work history will reflect that and show a logical progression towards those goals.
The opposite is true for job hoppers. They don’t have a long-term plan for their career; their future will be decided by whatever opportunities they encounter by chance. Their resumes will reflect that with a mish-mash of work in a random assortment of industries and companies and no pattern that develops expertise from a technical or leadership standpoint.
3. They’re Impatient
Job hoppers are impatient to a fault. And not just with their career path or personal growth. They’re impatient with the recruiter, the hiring manager, your entire process. If things drag on too long for their liking, they’ll lose interest and look elsewhere for their quick raise (all the better for you).
Career-oriented marketers are of course anxious to keep moving forward and see results. But they also understand that good opportunities usually take time to develop properly.
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