Should retailers hire job-hoppers?

May 29, 2014

According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, more than half of retail hiring managers and human resource professionals (54 percent) said they have hired a job-hopper and more than one-third (36 percent) said they have come to expect workers to job-hop.

The online survey of 182 hiring managers and human resource professionals at retail took place in February and early March.

Of those who have hired someone they categorize as a job-hopper, 47 percent said the employee left after a short period of time and 29 percent said the job-hopper stayed on for two or more years.

Some advantages are seen to hiring people who have worked for numerous companies. More than half (54 percent) of retail employers say job-hoppers tend to have a wide range of expertise and can adapt quickly (55 percent). However, 44 percent said they would dismiss a job-hopper’s application outright.

While 21 percent of retail employers who have hired a job-hopper find such employees to be above average performers, most said candidates were average (67 percent). Only 12 percent found job-hoppers to be poor performers.

Acceptance of the practice is influenced by the applicant’s age. Fifty-percent expect a new college graduate to stay two years or less. But 55 percent of retail employers said job-hopping becomes less acceptable when a worker reaches his/her early to mid-30s (ages 30 or 35). Twenty-seven percent find job-hopping less acceptable after the age of 40.

"Retailers are split on the issue of job-hopping," said Rob Morris, director of, CareerBuilder’s job site for retail management and associates, in a press release provided to RetailWire. "While there is some acknowledgement that job-hopping is an industry fact-of-life, most employers still want to hire workers who can commit for at least a couple of years."

Compared to other industries, retail is tied for fourth place as far as having the largest percentage of employers who expect workers to job-hop:

  • Information Technology – 42 percent
  • Leisure & Hospitality – 41 percent
  • Transportation – 37 percent
  • Retail – 36 percent
  • Sales representatives – 36 percent
  • Manufacturing – 32 percent


Should retailers welcome or avoid hiring job-hoppers? What other qualities must a job-hopper have to be acceptable? Has it become more acceptable to hire job-hoppers at retail in recent times?

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18 Comments on "Should retailers hire job-hoppers?"

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Paula Rosenblum

I am sort of confused about this article. Are the authors referring to in-store workers or home office employees?

Store associates job hop by definition. I no longer believe most retailers want that to change (it would require a bigger commitment on the part of the retailer to the employee).

As far as home office or management employees are concerned, I think there’s value to having people bring experience from other companies into otherwise insular retail companies. Our industry is filled with idiosyncratic processes that only exist because “this is how we’ve always done it.” It takes an outsider (who still understands retail) to say “Well, the same thing can be accomplished in a different way.”

The longest I ever worked anywhere is…where I work now. In my career in retail, I tended to stay at a job 3-5 years. There’s actually a fair amount of research that says tech people make their biggest impact in the first 2 years they work for a company. I believe that’s still true.

I don’t consider people who spend 3-5 years at a place “job-hoppers.” Every 18 months always sent up a red flag for me, though.

Tom Redd
The priority has to be find the best person for the job at hand. Retail is changing too fast to worry too far into the future. The careful space is the job itself. If the candidate is to be a leader of a key team of retail players, then try for a longer-range employee. In retail, many people get attached to their team leads and if the lead jumps, they may draw others away. For today, get the best player and if they are a hopper, ask why they left their last job. Maybe a retailer can avoid being like their last employer and keep them longer. People are the secret of the best retailers. Not high-tech and all the social stuff. People, products, and timing make retail a shopper memorable entertainment. e.g. I look forward to going to my Home Depot store because of Dr. John the Man of Doors (he knows all there is to know about doors) or Dr. Dave the Electrician (knows all about any electrical issue). I shop Fry’s in AZ because of Alice. She is 70 yrs old and knows how to make everything and find anything in the store. People are retail. Get… Read more »
Bob Phibbs

People hire job-hoppers because they “think” they won’t have to train them. Or the job-hopper from a competitor will know all the products and be immediately valuable. Unfortunately, its like going into a bar around closing time, finding the worst person to spend the night with and then marrying them.

Someone who job hops doesn’t come to your company culture, your culture has to come to them. When it doesn’t, they are out.

I feel that Millennials are hopping jobs more than Boomers did, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find wonderful employees out there, willing to help you build a brand, like this woman I met in Vancouver.

There are no shortcuts to hiring or training; when you do, you leave your brand vulnerable instead of making it venerable.

Max Goldberg

If you’re in retail, you should expect job hopping. Most retail associate positions are not treated with respect by management and typically there is no pathway to advancement. Job hopping has become part of the retail industry. So, as much as retail management would like to see a steadier workforce, job hopping has become the norm.

Al McClain
Al McClain
2 years 4 months ago

Here is a real-world example of why job hopping is bad for retailers. At the Panera near me, turnover is so frequent that employees wear badges with their names written on with a Sharpie. Most every week I see one or more new faces, and diners have to explain their preferences once again, as the staff looks as if they have never seen any of their customers before.

David Biernbaum

The answer depends on the reasons for the job-hopping. We don’t live in the 1950s anymore where job-hopping is necessarily a “negative.” In this day and age, many employees and managers lose jobs for reasons that were not their fault. In addition, people change jobs for any number of reasons that have to do with flexible hours, logistics, and other variables. Sometimes it’s actually beneficial to hire people with multiple-employer experience. That’s not to say that some job hoppers might not just be mal-contents or possibly even irresponsible. It’s impossible to know. But in any case, conduct your employee interviews with an open mind.

Lewis Olishansky
Lewis Olishansky
2 years 4 months ago

When Tom asks the question about retailers, I assume he is referring to store associates. Otherwise, I don’t see any difference between office workers in retail vs other industries.

Unless you are a high-end retailer, where sales associates have long-term relationships with their clients, then short-term employment is a fact of life. Retail tends to hire an above average number of students and part-time help. I don’t see the issue with job hoppers here.

As I said, for home office staff, the pros and cons are the same across all industries.

James Trompeter
James Trompeter
2 years 4 months ago

When we evaluate a candidate’s employment record we look at 3 things:

1) Did the candidate leave due to the financial condition of the company?
2) Was the next position a promotion, with increased responsibility?
3) Did the candidate leave for personal reasons, e.g. location?

How the candidate explains the above areas is one of the criteria we use in determining if the candidate is viable and if the job hopping is a liability.

Mel Kleiman

I would like to reverse this discussion by asking some different questions and taking a different look at the problem. Retailers need to be asking themselves these questions.

  1. Why should an employee who is good, wants to take responsibility, and has great skills stay with your organization?
  2. Why should a front-line employee have any loyalty to your organization?
  3. What is the quality of the manager they will be working for?
  4. What is the quality of the team they will be working with?
  5. Most people do not take jobs looking to leave them. Just think about how much pain you suffer when someone leaves. So how much pain do you inflict to get someone to go looking for a new job?

A simple statement from my blog of a couple of weeks ago. Retailers need to quit hiring the people they need and start hiring people they want.

Peter Charness

Today, a job is closer to a project than a career. When the project is over, if the next one up isn’t exciting, the person will hop. I think this is true at corporate offices more than in-store. While I agree with Paula’s perspective on some continuous feed of new ideas and insights, some proportion of employees need to be new and having that fresh insight, and some proportion needs to have that deep experience about the company that only longevity brings to the table.

Edward Chenard
Edward Chenard
2 years 4 months ago

So called job hopping is the way things will be for most and in some areas like IT, it is already the norm. Years ago, you were expected to stay in a role a long time, but now with things changing so fast, why would you? I’ve had people work for me for just a year and get picked up by a competitor who paid them double. I can’t fault someone wanting to double their salary. If you are in demand, by all means, take advantage of while you can.

And employers need to understand that people hop for many reasons, sometimes for fit, but sometimes they are good and you didn’t provide them with the culture that was right for them.

George-Marie Glover
George-Marie Glover
2 years 4 months ago

This is one of those “Catch 22” scenarios. Most retailers do little to engender employee loyalty. They spend very little effort training or coaching. Corporate offices impose company rules that make no sense to those who work at store level. Employees’ schedules are at the whim of the manager. Pay is low. It seems disingenuous to not expect retail workers to job-hop.

The biggest irony is some of the better workers leave because of unbearable work environments. Years ago, I left a position after three-months because I was being brutally harassed by a co-worker, but neither my supervisor nor human resources would do anything about it. I was by far the more productive worker, but wasn’t willing to stick around to be the brunt of someone’s verbal abuse. The fault doesn’t always lie with the job-hopper.

If high turnaround is a genuine concern of retailers, they should first look in the mirror.

Ralph Jacobson

It is misleading to lump all employees of one category or another into the same performance level. Obviously, based solely upon the split results of this survey, job-hoppers can be either good or poor performers… just like long-term employees. Job-hopping alone is no indicator of potential performance.

Shep Hyken

Finding long-term employees to work in retail is rare and valuable. Depending on the retailer, the opportunities for employees to grow is limited. Many employees are young and working part time.

Even if the employee does job hop, it is important to find people who have a good work ethic, understand how to work and service the public, and are able to pick up the skills (quickly) necessary to be successful. It makes the employee that much easier to train.

I don’t think that retailers can avoid job-hoppers. It’s just part of the industry.

Craig Sundstrom

I would think that this is largely dependent on the kind of retailer you are. If you’re Costco, or some other retailer that places a value on keeping people around – not that you would automatically exclude hoppers, since it could well be a sign of ambition – but you get to be choosy. If you want to pay poverty wages, have low morale, or are the type of company that always lands in RetailWire for all the wrong reasons, you take what you can get…and the hoppers will fit right in because they’ll likely hop away from you soon, too.

Cathy Hotka

In an era where a single income could fuel a reasonable middle-class lifestyle, job loyalty made sense for employees. But in the current environment, where many employers try to pay as little as possible, job loyalty makes less sense.

Retailers have an obvious way to invent valued employees to stay – mission-driven jobs with reasonable pay.

Naomi K. Shapiro
Naomi K. Shapiro
2 years 4 months ago

I agree with “notcom” so much: “If you want to pay poverty wages, have low morale, or are the type of company that always lands in RetailWire for all the wrong reasons, you take what you can get…and the hoppers will fit right in because they’ll likely hop away from you soon, too.” I think low wages and low expectations on the part of the retailer are the key to the turnover, and ditto for the employees. There’s got to be a price to be paid (by the retailer) for constant turnover and hiring, etc., etc., etc.

Alexander Rink
2 years 3 months ago

I think it all depends on the situation. During holiday periods, it is likely challenging to find the right people and if forced to decide between hiring a job-hopper or having insufficient staff during a critical sales period, I would say go for it. A retailer is likely to benefit from the job-hopper’s experience during that time, and if they do not work out for the long term, the retailer will at least have covered the critical period.

When engaging core full-time staff, however, I am always a proponent of looking for loyalty. Loyal employees will contribute much more over the longer term of the business, and create more stability both internally and externally.


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