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I have a close friend who has asked me to be her reference (she's a call center agent). Problem is, she's already been to 3 companies, with a 2 month time in each. She says she just doesn't fit with the workplace and she wants to keep on hunting until she finds one she would love.

I told her that at least she should stay at least for a year in this next company, to which she replies "But what if I can't stand it in here anymore?"

Is there a range of time (ie 7-8 months) before it's considered safe to switch companies? Was I correct in asking her to at least stay for a year (in fact, maybe more)?

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If your friend does quit, and choose to job search, as her friend I would suggest you urge her not to use her "feelings" about the company to be the reason she left (at least not in an interview). Rather she should give objective reasons. –  n00b Dec 5 '13 at 15:15
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Sounds to me like she doesn't like being a call center agent. I don't think she's going to find some call center agent utopia but it might take the sting out of a crappy job to spend more of her time after hours picking up a skill set that's a better fit for her. –  Erik Reppen Dec 5 '13 at 20:24
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6 Answers

up vote 29 down vote accepted

Is there a range of time (ie 7-8 months) before it's considered safe to switch companies? Was I correct in asking her to at least stay for a year (in fact, maybe more)?

There's no magic time range. It's less about the amount of time, and more about the pattern of behavior.

Few companies want to hire people who won't be around for the long haul (The exceptions might be minimum wage jobs, or jobs that hire temporary or transient workers. I suspect even they would like to hire people who could be expected to stay around for a few years, if they could find them.)

When I hire someone, I put a lot of time, effort, and money into finding them, paying them, training them, and integrating them into our workplace. Then only way that works out for my company, is if that person sticks around. I value a stable work team a lot.

Your friend is showing that she can be expected to leave after 2 months. There's no way I would hire someone like that.

But if your friend had been in 3 jobs for 1 year each, I'd still be extremely unlikely to hire her (particularly, if the reason she left each job was because she "couldn't stand it there"). Her work pattern would show that she would leave after 1 year - that's not what I'm looking for.

The pattern your friend has established shows that either she doesn't know what she wants in a job, doesn't know how to find a job that offers what she wants, or simply doesn't care to be at a job for any length of time. For many employers, that is a bad sign.

If she were my friend, I'd advise her to think long and hard about the kind of job that would satisfy her for a long time. And I'd help her learn how to interview better, so that she could determine if the company will meet her needs before she accepts a position.

Having her grit her teeth in a job she hates just to make it to 1 year, probably isn't going to change her behavior/hiring pattern, and thus probably won't help much.

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What about "jumping jobs" for greater pay? I've always felt that if you're looking for a pay bump (not small like a grand or 2 but in increments) then its acceptable to hop jobs. –  Howdy_McGee Dec 5 '13 at 20:53
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@Howdy_McGee - In that case, why wouldn't every job hopper just say "Well, I was looking for a pay bump"? –  Joe Strazzere Dec 5 '13 at 21:05
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@Howdy_McGee - it's hard to imagine someone getting large enough raises from new companies 2 months apart to make it worth switching - and in that case, you'd eventually end up at the company that was offering the most, and you'd stay there long enough for the "sting" of the previous 2-month stints to wear off. –  Adam V Dec 5 '13 at 21:31
    
@JoeStrazzere (In that case, why wouldn't every job hopper just say "Well, I was looking for a pay bump?") What would you think of that person sir? –  Malky.Kid Dec 6 '13 at 0:55
    
@Malky.Kid - Me? I don't hire people hopping from job to job looking for a few dollars more. I was just wondering about Howdy_McGee's comment. –  Joe Strazzere Dec 6 '13 at 14:21
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It can depend on the industry and type of work, but in your friend's case I'd say she very much looks like a job hopper. The issue is based on her past - the first issue/problem, she'll be out the door, and all my training/investment will have been wasted, or worse, many will assume she's been fired several times due to some social issue/problem or something more serious.

I'd suggest that what she wants from a job isn't anything like reality, she either needs to think of a different career (having worked for a few companies with call centres, they tend to be fairly consistent across companies, so I don't think it's what she wants), or else look at one where she can work from home (so fit is less of an issue).

It's a bit of a problem, staying 7 months or a year isn't going to change things as the pattern is already established, I'd be looking at a 2+ year stint next time, probably with some progression to show that she wasn't just marking time.

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No one else has mentioned this, but she is asking you to be a reference, and that will reflect on you. That pattern most definitely looks like a job hopper (even if there are legitimate reasons), and if you recommend her and it doesn't work out, it looks like you don't know what a good worker looks like. You should only be a reference to someone that you truly recommend, someone that you expect will provide a good beenfit to the company. If you recommend someone less than that, especially to a company that you work for, it will make you look bad to your management.

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Thanks, but she's a childhood friend(maybe we'll never be more than that..) and I just can't say no. –  Malky.Kid Dec 6 '13 at 0:37
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I don't think there is a magic number, but successive short-term jobs raises a red flag unless she has done temp work and/or consulting. What could you put on a resume that you accomplished in a few months?

Anyone who "job hops" is going to struggle with basic interview questions:

  1. Why did you leave your jobs? Making one bad job choice decision is one thing, but 3? She's going to end up getting caught in a lie.
  2. Why do you want to work here? Obviously, this person doesn't know how to evaluate a job, doesn't know what she wants, or has extremely unrealistic expectations. Maybe she just doesn't like to work?
  3. What is your greatest accomplishment at your last job? I'm guessing the answer will be nothing. How much can you accomplish in such a short amount of time.?
  4. What was your last evaluation like? Never worked anywhere long enough to receive one.

To a certain extent, it's like she has no positive experience at all. The only good thing is she's never been fired.

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Your friend basically has worse than no job expereince. The only way she can overcome this is to stay somewhere a logner time, probably a much longer time. I certainly would throw her resume in the trash right now. Call center employees typically spend some part of their first month just training and to quit several in succession tells me that she can't be relied on to be around long enough to contribute. So why would I bother with her unless my job was so bad I was having trouble attracting a decent worker?

She sounds immature. This might be OK for a teenager and a part-time job. It is simply unacceptable in the adult world if you want to work anywhere decent. The good places to work have no incentive to even look at this person: she is unreliable, she has no track record of success and she seems to have difficulty getting along in the professional world of work. If you can't make it in a lower level job, no one is going to hire you for a better one.

She needs to probably stay at the current place for at least 2-3 years to show that she can be relied on. She needs to have some professional experience under her belt and some professional accomplishments such as meeting or exceeding sales goals or resolving a higher number of customer complaints than her peers (depending on what type of call center employee she is). She needs some sort of employee of the month awards or outstanding appraisal or anything to show she is currently a valued emplyee where she works. She needs to do this even if she decides call center work is not for her and moves into another profession. Right now she would rank below an entry level applicant for any job. Each successive job she gets and quits in less than a year will make her prospects worse and worse. She may continue to find work (many call centers are desperate because the working conditions can be so bad), but each new job is likely to be even worse than the one before, because the better places have stopped even considering her.

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My answer would be 6 months to 1 year depending on the industry. If you leave before 6 months or 1 year frequently then you would be considered as job hopper. However, I understand if you leave in first two months i.e. in probation period then it makes kinda sense as it seems that company does not fit with your expectations. This may have several reasons:

a) company did not stick with what they promised or told in the interview
b) you misunderstood company's expectation or expressed your expectations wrongly
c) you did not even care what type of a company you are interviewing with just wanted a job

I all cases above it's clearly stating that if you leave the company in a very short period of time then you need better interviewing techniques and better understanding of you expectation from a work environment.

In your case first I would like to be clear on why she left past two jobs. Because she may have valid reasons and it may be a bad coincidence of valid reasons for both companies. But this time I would strongly suggest her to be careful about the new company and to be decisive what she want in her new role and what is she seeing this companies value in her career path and future plans.

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Well, here in the Philippines, we have two kinds of call center agents. Those who wait for calls and those who make the calls. She's the latter. I guess she's tired of being posted in that position especially since it's commission based. –  Malky.Kid Dec 6 '13 at 0:50
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