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The Job-Hopper in Retail

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person changes jobs 10 to 15 times (with an average of 11 job changes) during his or her career.

A new study from CareerBuilder showed that more than 55% of retail employers surveyed said they have hired a job-hopper and nearly one-third of all employers said they have come to expect workers to job-hop.

“More workers are pursuing opportunities with various companies to expose themselves to a wider range of experiences, build their skill sets, or take a step up the ladder in pay or title,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of Human Resources at CareerBuilder. She emphasizes staying at a company long enough to make an impact and impression.

Reaction to job-hopping is mixed: 43% won’t consider a candidate whose time with an employer is short (under two years). However, others point to advantages in hiring people who have worked for numerous companies. But more than half of employers said job-hoppers tend to have a wide range of expertise, and can adapt quickly.

21% of retail employers who have hired a job-hopper said those employees were above average performers. 67% said the hires were “average.” Only 12% found job-hoppers to be poor performers.

A person’s age also influences retail employers: 50% expect a recent college graduate to stay two years or less. But 55% of retail employers think that job-hopping becomes less acceptable with employees aged 30 to 35. About 27% saw job-hopping less acceptable after 40 years of age.

Rob Morris, director of WorkinRetail.com, says, “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.”

Industry statistics for job-hopping in retail range from 36% to 50%.

There are many reasons people change jobs so quickly in retail. Numbers may determine bottom lines and operating costs, but people are often key to the retail experience. Company culture often determines the lifespan of employees.

Many retail associate positions are not treated with respect by management and the road to management training is not clear or non-existent. Also, in a time of mixed economic signals, 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.

Full-time jobs are being replaced by part-time positions offering diminishing hours, usually with no benefits and no paid time off. Roughly a third of U.S. retail workers typically work less than 20 hours a week, research shows, while 18 percent work less than 15.

As a result, with companies employing large numbers of part-timers and hours hard to come by, workers increasingly find themselves competing not with the store down the street, but with each other.

Hourly wages seem to be static, but also rationing hours while requiring workers to be available to work at all hours of the day or night, on weekends and during holidays has a negative effect on employees. This kind of scheduling, while saving on labor costs, can hurt retailers in other ways. Constant staffing changes are costly and can be a real problem for retailers who count on good customer service to drive sales.  Cutting part-timers’ hours and sudden scheduling changes can leave employees apathetic and ready to run for the exit.

With job-hopping seen as the norm for retailing, retail recruiting firms can cut through the clutter, whether you’re a job seeker or a retail employer, by saving you time and money, asking the right questions and finding the right fit for store and employee. 

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