Career Strategies: Is Job Hopping Still A Big Negative?

You got a great job but the money was miniscule.  Three months later you took a job at double the salary.  In six months you were out after a reorganization.  You got six months severance and COBRA.  Now you’re left to dance those two jobs on your resume for the next ten years.  Doesn’t this make you a pariah to hirers?

Not so fast.  Twenty years ago, it would have.  In those bygone days all candidates had to profess no greater ambition than to be CEO of the company one day.  Anyone under 40 who talked about someday being CEO today would be identified as a first generation immigrant or naive.  “Moving up the ladder” has become as quaint a phrase as, “I’ll call you.”  But how many short-term jobs are too many?

Until the Great Recession becomes a boom economy even perfectionists  are apt to cut an attractive candidate some slack.  We talked to a Fortune 500 head of talent who said he’d presented two candidates for six figure jobs who’d been fired from companies!  “They were a perfect fix in skills and experience with jobs I needed to fill.  Besides, we are most anxious to weed out employees who might stay too long.”

Like obsolete electronic equipment there’s little market for loyalty and less this year than last for longevity.   What sells are near-perfect matches between job needs and skills and experience sauced with enthusiasm and energy.  Nothing is less attractive than the candidate who apologizes for his job choices.  If you didn’t make reasonable choices for yourself why should we believe you’ll make better choices for the organization?

It’s all in the explanation of why you took/left a job.  If what you said makes sense, has no whiff of hidden explanations, it works.  Of course, there is the HR type or hirer who believes he needs “more information.”  Perhaps he or she was a social worker in a previous life.  Explain why your choice made sense at the time.  Anyone can second guess themselves pointless as that process is.  Don’t do it for anyone but your therapist.

Put your short-term jobs on your resume.  Don’t even consider leaving them off in the hope that long-term unemployment would look better.  The odds are six months into a new job someone will arrive who knew you in a previous incarnation.  If the company finds out you lied on your resume or written application you are toast.  Why take the chance.  Besides, do you want to work for a boss or organization that thinks quitting a job or two is a felony?

Contact Marilyn for Help With Career Strategies

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