EDITORIAL: Job Hoppers Beware

For a lot of steady-Eddie managerial types who for the most part held the same jobs during the late 1990s, signs of an economic slowdown are good news — especially for those with vindictive streaks.

One of the side effects of the boom and its resultant low-single-digit unemployment rates has been that the dregs of the employment market can job-hop at will.

And with good help being so hard to find, the following hypothetical post-job-interview assessment is familiar to most managers:

“Hmmm, she chewed gum the whole time, but with her mouth open for only half of it, and never cracked it once. What do you say, Susan?”

“I say in this market, she's potential chief marketing officer material, Bob. And as for that felony, she has paid her debt to society. Let's start her out as a marketing manager. After all, no one's entry-level anymore.”

Of course, gum-chewing felon sticks around for about eight months. And though it's just long enough to get college-intern-level skills, she is nonetheless trained enough to squeeze a fat raise and some equity from Acme Competitor. After all, Acme's also having a tough time finding employees who don't refuse to sort faxes or demand perks such as bringing their half-housebroken, sexually frustrated male dogs to work.

All this will end soon, however. And with the looming slowdown in mind, here's an idea for a new Web site: JobHopper.com. The URL is taken, but certainly its owner will part with it for a reasonable amount of money once he or she understands its noble purpose.

Under this plan, JobHopper.com will be a place where middle and upper-level managers can upload the resumes of employees who have left them in the lurch during the past three years.

This way, once things are tight enough for employers to get a little picky, those who receive a resume with, say, a series of four or five eight-month stints on it can log in at JobHopper.com and see exactly what kind of cutthroat jerk they are dealing with.

The site could rate these job hoppers inversely to the way restaurants get stars.

The JobHopper symbol would be the kangaroo. One kangaroo could mean the person is a run-of-the-mill job hopper, maybe someone who gave notice in the middle of a huge project and asked that the typical two weeks' notice — a laughably short transition time for anything but the most menial of jobs — be shaved by a couple of days.

Every manager knows the type: “I'd really like to get started right away [at a supposed noncompetitor, which is really Acme]. OK? I'll make sure my work is done first, though.” And since this would be a dramatic change from the morale and productivity black hole this person has been for the last year, the manager agrees — anything to get the slug on his way.

Five kangaroos would be saved for employees who committed should-be crimes such as accepting fat raises and vowing to stick around, only to leave with little or no notice and take key employees in the process. Extra kangaroos would be awarded for resumes uploaded from multiple companies.

JobHopper.com could offer managers a free peek at a prospective hire's kangaroo rating and could charge for more in-depth looks.

And imagine the fun JobHopper.com's database would offer. The site's privacy policy would certainly be simple:

“We will funnel your so-called 'personal' data free to anyone who can make your professional life miserable. In fact, we'll even throw in a couple of bucks to the first one who uses this list somehow to send you into therapy.”

Meanwhile, fees to the site could be used for co-op revenge campaigns. For instance, JobHopper.com could send geographical mailings advertising nonexistent employment fairs in abandoned downtown warehouses known for crack traffic.

Another possibility would be a direct mailing on which the teaser envelope copy would read: “Unemployed? Looking for a new start?”

The inside card could read: “Why don't you apply for a job at one of the companies you've screwed during the past three years? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!”

Marketing managers, PR managers, vice presidents and CEOs … hang tough. The days of getting jerked around by half-assed employees are almost over. Torturing these people will be fun.

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