Why ‘Job Hoppers’ Might Be the Best Hire for Your Next Construction Project

Spring is in the air and hiring in the construction field is in full swing. Yet, there’s an aspect of this process that needs a fresh perspective: the emphasis hiring managers place on the duration of a candidate’s previous employment. Traditionally, candidates with long tenures at their companies have been favored, while those with shorter stints are often labeled as “job hoppers.” However, this view may be outdated and could lead to missed opportunities in identifying the right talent.

The Changing Dynamics of the Workforce

Industry-Specific Trends and Statistics
In the civil engineering and construction sectors, project-based employment is common, leading to shorter job tenures. According to Zippia, the average civil engineer stays at their job for 1-2 years, based on an analysis of 9,819 civil engineers’ resumes. Additionally, Mindforge reported in February 2023 that the construction workforce is aging, and younger employees have the highest turnover risk. On average, the turnover rate in the construction industry hovers around 21.4%, with employees 24 or younger reaching about 64%. This high turnover rate is linked to increased injuries, low team engagement, reduced quality, and the inability to execute on jobs, resulting in construction defect claims, actual injuries on the job, and the reputational risk of not being hired by the owner again. These statistics underscore the importance of understanding the nuances of job tenure in the construction industry.

Shift in Career Longevity
The modern workforce is experiencing a significant shift. Generations X and Y, in particular, view career longevity differently than their predecessors. Unlike the Baby Boomers, these newer generations are more inclined to change jobs if it means advancing their skills or achieving better work-life balance. This shift is not a sign of instability, but rather a reflection of the evolving professional landscape where diverse experiences are becoming increasingly valuable.

The Need for Flexibility
In the fast-paced and project-driven world of construction, adaptability and flexibility are more valuable than long-term tenure in a single role. Candidates who have worked in various types of projects and roles bring a wealth of experience and are often well-equipped to handle the unique challenges of this industry. They offer diverse perspectives that can lead to more innovative problem-solving and efficient project management.

Rethinking “Job Hopping”

The term “job hopping” often carries a negative connotation, suggesting a lack of commitment or reliability. However, in the context of civil engineering and construction, frequent job changes can also indicate a proactive approach to career development. Far from indicating unreliability, frequent job changes among construction professionals often signal a proactive pursuit of diverse experiences to refine their skill set.

Benefits of Diverse Experiences
Candidates who have worked in different types of construction projects or civil engineering roles often possess a broad range of skills. Their exposure to various company cultures, technologies, and methodologies fosters innovative thinking. This is particularly beneficial in civil engineering and construction, where the complexity of projects demands a multifaceted skill set and creative approaches.

Delving Deeper into Career Transitions
When encountering candidates with frequent job changes, managers should ask about the underlying reasons. Here are some questions to try:

  • “What motivated your transition from Company A to Company B?”
  • “How did joining company B enhance your skill set?”
  • “What were you seeking in each new role that you felt was missing in your previous positions?”
  • “How have the challenges and opportunities you encountered in your various roles prepared you for the position you’re applying for with us?”

The candidate’s answers can reveal their drive for personal and professional growth, their adaptability, and their potential to contribute in the new role. This approach shifts the focus from the duration of job tenures to the quality of experiences and achievements.

Prioritizing Talent Over Tenure

Moreover, it’s crucial for managers to champion the notion that the value of hiring well-qualified talented individuals outweighs concerns over the length of their stay. The dynamic nature of the civil engineering and construction industry, withal of its unique challenges and opportunities, requires a workforce that is not only skilled but also diverse in experiences and perspectives. Embracing this mindset ensures that hiring practices are aligned with the strategic objectives of innovation, quality, and adaptability, rather than being constrained by traditional tenure-based metrics.

The Risks of Overemphasis on Tenure

Missing Out on Talent
By dismissing candidates based on short employment stints, hiring managers in civil engineering and construction risk overlooking highly qualified individuals. These professionals often bring fresh, innovative ideas that could be instrumental in driving a project or solving complex engineering challenges.

Company Growth and Adaptability
Companies focusing too heavily on tenure might miss out on the growth and adaptability that comes with diverse experiences. In an industry like civil engineering, where projects and technologies are constantly evolving, embracing candidates with varied backgrounds can help companies stay adaptable and competitive.


For the construction industry, it’s time to reevaluate the stigma attached to job hopping. This shift in perspective is not just about being fair to candidates; it’s about securing the future of businesses in a field that thrives on diversity, innovation, and adaptability.