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Playing Frogger: Who's Job Hopping and How to Keep them "Grounded"

Does looking at your potential candidates’ resumes feel like trying to cross a zooming, traffic-filled street? Looking up and down, left and right, making sure to cover all their work history so you don’t get blindsided by an oncoming truck of termination or under-performance? If this is your or your hiring manager’s reality, you’re likely stuck in a game of Frogger, a classic arcade game back in the day. Just like Frogger, it’s tough enough trying to cross the busy, dangerous streets of hiring, but then you must make it across the river of retention filled with sinking turtles (new, attractive opportunities) and snapping alligators (your competition). As part of our “How to Outplay the Talent Game” series, this article will present ways to identify the job hoppers and how to get them to thrive and stay in your company.

Who’s Hopping?

“According to LinkedIn Economic Graph data, ‘the number of companies people worked for in the five years after they graduated has nearly doubled,’ but the uptick hasn’t been uniform across all demographics. The data found that people ‘who graduated between 1986 and 1990 averaged more than 1.6 jobs,’ while ‘people who graduated between 2006 and 2010 averaged nearly 2.85 jobs.’ The researchers noted potential reasons for the disparity as residual impacts from the Great Recession and millennials being more interested in trying careers before settling.” (Dickinson, Big Think, 2018)

From the data, it appears Millennials are more prone to job hopping than their generational cohorts due to a multitude of factors, whether it be their influences growing up, the economy, or just how they’re wired mentally and spiritually. However, while Millennials may be the main hoppers, they’re slowly gaining more company in this practice:

“Millennials may hop more than previous generations and view the practice more favorably, but they are hardly alone. A Namely survey of more than 125,000 U.S. employees showed that today’s boomers job-hop almost as much as their younger cohorts. The survey found that the median tenure at a job for workers was:

  • 1.42 years for 25- to 35-year-olds;

  • just under 2 years for 35- to 55-year-olds;

  • 2.53 years for 55- to 65-year-olds.” (Dickinson, Big Think, 2018)

There are other demographics besides generations that show increases in job hopping. Most notably, higher education levels see more job hopping than others.

“[LiveCareer] found that job seekers holding only a high school degree stayed with their employers an average of 4.4 years before leaving. That’s almost 25 percent longer than job seekers with an associate’s degree (4.1 years), and 33 percent longer than those with a bachelor’s degree (3.3 years). Interestingly, job seekers who did not provide their education level on their resumes also held their jobs on average of 3.3 years before leaving.

But the effect seems to break down after that, as jobseekers with master’s degrees stayed an average of 3.7 years per job.” (LiveCareer, 2018)

LiveCareer also notes that certain industries are vulnerable to job hopping just from their inherent nature.

Software developers and food/beverage servers were the two occupations with the most job hopping (average of only 2.4 and 2.8 years on the job respectively), while store managers and administrative assistants were the two with the least (4.9 and 4.7 years per job respectively).

Overall, the study suggested that workers tend to stay longer in roles requiring more employer-specific knowledge, and where it takes longer time to become proficient.” (LiveCareer, 2018)

How to “Ground” Them

Over the past few years, it seems that the discussion has shifted a little away from discovery of top talent and more towards the retention of top talent. Jennifer Post from Business News Daily gives a few examples of how to help boost talent retention:

Transparency. According to [Amanda] Augustine, the more transparent you can be about company culture, the better. She added that there is nothing worse than spending time and money to recruit someone who is either a poor cultural fit or has different expectations for the company and the role.

Take your employees' temperature. No, not to see if they're sick, but to get a pulse on what's working for your company and what isn't. Augustine suggests employee-engagement surveys and annual reviews to keep the lines of communication open.

Pay your employees fairly. It seems unnecessary to even put this on the list, but you would be surprised. [Steve] Hartert agreed that a lot of companies miss this one. People need to feed their families and keep a roof over their head. Money isn't the only motivator, but it definitely ranks high.

Give people valuable work. Hartert quoted Steve Jobs, who once said that he only hired smart people so they could tell management what to do; it makes no sense to hire smart people and then bark orders. If people feel their contributions and opinions are valuable, they'll want to work for you.” (Post, Business News Daily, 2019)

These ideas are a good start, but there’s definitely more ways to help retain good employees, including providing more work/life balance, quality benefits such as health insurance, and remote work capabilities.

Hire a Hopper? contributor Liz Ryan once penned a letter to an HR manager explaining why it’s beneficial to hire a job hopper.

“They learned how to find a new job when they needed one. People who stick around in the same organization don't learn how to deal with the ups and downs life throws at them as well as people who have faced career shakes and shocks.

That should be obvious to any hiring manager, but unfortunately too many people in hiring capacities are out of touch.

In the real world, things are constantly changing. Wouldn't you rather hire someone who has dealt with numerous changes and new environments than someone who hasn't?” (Ryan,, 2018)

She provides several additional reasons why a job hopper can provide a breath of fresh air to your team and company (which can be accessed below).


Job hopping has become less taboo, less detrimental to a candidate’s career, and more prevalent over the years. Does your company avoid hoppers? Do they need to embrace them more? Should more energy and focus be placed in retaining hoppers to stop them from continuing their hopping? That is something to have a serious discussion about with your hiring decision makers because it has become an adaptation companies must at least be cognizant of in these difficult hiring times.

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