September 12, 2022

Maybe it’s time to rethink the short stint bias


Partner at Hirewell. #3 Ranked Sarcastic Commenter on LinkedIn.

Freelancing, side gigs, and generally shorter innings

We want someone with an entrepreneurial mindset.”

“We want someone with a long, consistent work history.”

Yeah ok. Now pick one.

This dichotomy always cracks me up. “Entrepreneurial” gets thrown around as a buzzword like “work hard play hard” used to.

I’m not sure I’ve seen a company who touts “an entrepreneurial environment” in their messaging that prefers candidates who started a business. Or freelanced. Or runs a side gig.

You know. Actual entrepreneurship.

Long, consistent work histories (as employees) are still the overwhelming preference. (Even after we thought COVID would eliminate bias against work history gaps or shorter stints. Nope.)

I’m not saying one is better than the other. But you can’t deny that people who have done their own thing picked up a ton of range.

You have to be your own marketer, salesperson, customer service and accountant. A bit of a value add, don’t you think?

Not to mention the exposure to more projects in more environments. The kind of experience that’s invaluable when they’re solving a brand new challenge on your team.

I get it in the old world. Turn the clock way, way back. When working 1-2 companies for your entire career was the norm. Switching jobs every year seemed very odd.

But that’s not where we are now. Employees stay because they’re happy with the pay, the environment, and the work itself. If that last dries up, no one wants to stagnate.

So instead of viewing people who run freelance work or bounced around as having something wrong with them, consider they’re just better at understanding when the real work is all done. 

Maybe they do have a long tenure with your team in them. You just gotta give them more challenges to do.

From The 10 Minute Talent Rant, Episode 50 “We’re Evaluating Talent Wrong” here.

Partner at Hirewell. #3 Ranked Sarcastic Commenter on LinkedIn.

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