Should you hire someone with short spells on their CV?

Should you be hiring someone with less than two years on their CV? We explore the many reasons for this...

Andy Bristow
Andy Bristow
9 min read Reading Time
2 July 2023 Date Created

In the good old days, the average tenure for someone in a job in the UK was just under nine years. And now? It’s just 1.6 years, according to the CIPD Megatrends report

Moreover, according to the same report, analysts believe that young people are far more likely to change jobs than their older counterparts.

This is fascinating from both an employer and employee perspective. 

So what is it about the job market that stops many young people from sticking around for more than one Christmas party?

And, as an employer, is it something that you can afford to ignore?

In answer to our first question: it’s complicated. The reasons for leaving a job after a few months could be an extensive list.

For example: “The culture wasn’t what I expected.” “The processes are completely outdated.” “The firm has a presenteeism culture and is obsessed about getting people in the office.”

But should employers turn a blind eye? No way.

Gen Z comes in for a lot of stick. But, as an employer, simply making grimacing noises about ‘staying power’ (and the perceived lack of it) each time someone quits isn’t something you should ignore. It’s a big red flag.

Those Gen Zs currently make up 30 percent of the world’s population and are expected to account for 27 percent of the workforce by 2025. Ignore them, and you’re shutting the door to talent. 

Are the reasons for short tenure always ‘bad?’

No. Many younger switchers started their careers during the height of the pandemic and aren’t afraid to ask for flexible working. Some desire meaningful work; others simply recognise that switching jobs can be the fastest way to skyrocket their salary. 

This is particularly true in tech roles where their inherently digital DNA makes them hot property. Here are just some of the reasons why people might jump ship:

  • (Lack of) flexible working: a Gen Z might arrive at a company full of enthusiasm for the role – only to find that the company only paid lip service to hybrid working to get talent through the door.

  • Lack of interaction with management: younger people genuinely want, and expect, their leaders to engage in open dialogue with them, yet find themselves confronted with rigid processes and closed doors.

  • Outdated IT: Gen Z’s tech skills mean that most are capable of creating their own side hustle website if they want to – and many do. Yet they land at a company stuck with crappy hardware and reliance on old-school IT, where simple requests take weeks to be actioned. Talk about a turnoff.

  • Processes: Or maybe it’s a process thing. You didn’t mention at the interview that employees would be expected to fill out timesheets and plan their time to the Nth degree. If this is important to you, then make it clear. Equally, potential recruits need to savvy-up and ask these types of questions at early doors: but that’s a topic for How long should I stay in a job I don’t like?

Ultimately: this generation knows what it wants. And it’s not afraid to jump ship – not always because the going got tough, but when a genuinely better offer turned up on the table.

Employers – follow your instincts

Of course, this all comes with a disclaimer. There is a type of recruit that doesn’t stick, no matter how good the job and the working conditions are. And as an employer, you’ll have a gut instinct for sussing this out. And if you don’t, then that’s where a recruiter can help you navigate the way.

So, what can you do to bring down the huge cost of hire and replacement? 

Some tips for preventing ‘shift shock’ in your candidates

  1. Carry out your due diligence

Most of us wouldn’t marry after a one-hour date, so why do we expect people to commit to long-term relationships after a short Teams call and trip to the office?

How about offering shortlisted candidates an expenses-paid day (or two) in the office to get a feel of what the culture and processes are like, and to properly meet their managers and team members, before they sign on the dotted line?

  1. Scrutinise your onboarding process

Once a candidate has signed, a strong onboarding process is also key. This should start long before the employee turns up for the first day. Information about what to expect from day one, in terms of processes, documentation, progression and training, should all be clearly laid out, along with regular performance reviews so that employee and employer can engage in honest dialogue. An assigned buddy or mentor is always a good idea.

  1. Don’t be afraid to question

Those short stints on someone’s CV are there for a reason, but not all reasons are the same.

For example: those short stints – actually contracts and maternity covers, say – might actually reveal someone’s desire to keep their skills fresh while trying to juggle work with family demands. Good candidates have nothing to hide. And even those that leave after short periods should be able to supply a reference to testify to the quality of their work.

  1. And finally… don’t be too judgemental

Many of us in hiring roles are parents to those entering the workforce for the first (or second, or third) time. 

Yes, there’s nothing wrong with ‘sticking it out’. But as our children come home from their new job, already disillusioned with broken promises, we may find ourselves empathising, rather than criticising.

For advice on increasing tenure in your business, get in touch with out team.