The Two-Year Dilemma: Assessing Candidate Reliability in Recruitment

Posted on 08 November 2023

In the ever-evolving landscape of recruitment and human resources, one question has continually puzzled HR professionals: Should we view candidates with a history of leaving roles before two years of continuous service as potential risks or as individuals who have encountered professional setbacks? This conundrum has been a topic of extensive discussion within the HR community, with varying viewpoints. In this op-ed piece, we will explore the arguments for and against this viewpoint, aiming to foster conversation and encourage a more nuanced perspective in the world of recruitment.

For: The Risk Perspective

Many HR professionals and organizations tend to lean toward the idea that candidates with a history of leaving roles before two years of continuous service should be viewed with caution. This viewpoint is based on the belief that frequent job changes can be indicative of a lack of commitment or an inability to adapt and succeed in a given role. Here are some key points in favour of this perspective:

  • Consistency Matters: Staying in a role for an extended period typically indicates an employee's dedication and stability, which can be invaluable in an organization. A history of short-term positions may raise concerns about the candidate's commitment.

  • Learning and Adaptation: It is generally expected that employees will take some time to adjust to a new role and contribute effectively. Leaving before two years may suggest that the candidate did not invest enough time to learn and grow within the position.

  • Cost Considerations: Frequent turnover can result in significant financial costs for an organization, from recruitment and onboarding expenses to lost productivity. It is only reasonable for employers to prioritize candidates with a history of longer tenures.

Supporters of this viewpoint argue that assessing candidates based on their length of service can help mitigate hiring risks, reduce turnover, and promote organizational stability.

Against: The Compassionate Perspective

On the flip side, some HR professionals believe that immediately labelling candidates with short tenures as "risky" is overly simplistic and unfair. They argue that assessing candidates solely on this criterion neglects essential aspects of their professional journey and personal development. Here are some key points against this perspective:

  • Learning Opportunities: In today's fast-paced job market, professionals often switch roles to gain diverse experiences and learn rapidly. A candidate's history of short tenures might indicate a thirst for knowledge and adaptability, rather than failure.

  • Industry Trends: Certain industries, such as technology and startups, commonly have shorter job tenures due to the nature of the work. Judging candidates based on a universal two-year rule may overlook the nuances of specific sectors.

  • Transferable Skills: Candidates who have held multiple roles can bring a broad range of skills and perspectives to a new organization. Their adaptability and ability to navigate different work environments may be an asset.

Leading HR and recruitment experts like Laszlo Bock, former Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, and Lou Adler, CEO of The Adler Group, have emphasized the importance of assessing skills, competencies, and potential over the length of service when making hiring decisions. In a world where agility and continuous learning are highly valued, this viewpoint argues that candidates should not be penalized for their professional curiosity and exploration.

In conclusion, the debate over whether candidates with a history of leaving roles before two years of continuous service should be viewed as risks or failures is far from settled. The field of HR and recruitment is evolving, and traditional approaches are increasingly being challenged by new paradigms of talent acquisition.

To foster a more productive conversation, HR professionals should consider a balanced approach. Rather than relying solely on the length of service, a comprehensive evaluation that assesses skills, competencies, cultural fit, and the candidate's potential contribution to the organization may provide a more accurate picture of their suitability for a role. It's essential to remember that a candidate's professional journey is not solely defined by the sum of their previous roles; instead, it is a dynamic narrative that encompasses growth, learning, and adaptability.

The world of HR and recruitment is continually evolving, and it's important to adapt to these changes by reevaluating long-held beliefs and embracing more holistic approaches. By engaging in thoughtful and nuanced discussions about issues like the two-year dilemma, we can collectively advance the field of human resources and make more informed hiring decisions. After all, in a dynamic job market, it's adaptability and potential that often shine the brightest.

Share this article