June 22, 2018

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Job Hopping On Your Resume

Why do companies ask you why you left your previous jobs? Why are they concerned if you’ve had few in a short time?

They want to make sure if they invest in you that you will stay and not split for the next passing ship, for whatever reason seems to make sense to you at the time.

They ask because previous behavior, unless given a plausible reason to believe differently, is an indicator of current and future behavior.

How do you convince them you’re going to stick around? How do you know you’re going to stick around?

The operative phrase is “unless given a plausible reason to believe differently.” That means if you made many earlier changes for random reasons, you better know what you want so you can tell the hiring authority.

On the other hand, if that company isn’t it, you’ve just wiped them out of consideration, or vice versa, or both. But wait… closing down your options a bad thing?

The “any job” mindset is characteristic of what I call a Job Chameleon. It’s not impressive. Even in mild form, it leads to being the bridesmaid and never the bride. If you’ve had a few interviews but no offers, the problem is with your interviewing skills and here’s a prime piece of that.

You may think you know what you want, but most seem not to, at least not on the level of detail to necessary. You need to be looking for the company that’s looking for you. That’s “the company” not “a company.”

Who has given thought to the profile of the company in which they work best? Let’s start with size. What’s small? 20 people? 2,000 people? A branch of a world wide organization? What’s huge? National? Regional? Depends on what you’re comparing it to.

What about growth? Do you get bored easily and need mental growth and daily challenges? Or are you comfortable with routine, but you want to move up the ladder in a solid, steadily growing company? Or perhaps it’s both and most important to you perhaps are new challenges and a title that shows increasing responsibility?

Many job seekers look for a “people oriented” company. Most companies consider themselves people oriented. Most people consider themselves “people oriented”!

In any company there’s likely to be a significant difference of opinion on what “people oriented” means, depending on who you ask: senior management, staff, customers, or other businesses with whom they interact. It depends on whether they like their job, what kind of day they’re having…..or if they have to put on a face to interview you.

Some look for the “right opportunity.” How is that defined? That’s usually clarified by something you didn’t like. But it needs to be defined by the positive – not the negative. Too far to commute? Not “the right opportunity.” Base salary too low? Not “the right opportunity.” Too much travel? Not “the right opportunity.”

When you’ve examined all your previous jobs and identified – in depth – these points (at a minimum) you ask sensible questions that provide you with specific information. You stop jumping automatically through every hoop. You, as an interviewee, get respect.

You’re able to say to the company with whom you’re interviewing, “Yes, I’ve had a lot of jobs, that’s why I’ve given so much thought to my next one.” You’re able to communicate what kind of company you want; what kind of company will benefit from employing you.

You’re less likely to end up in a place where 3 months later, you hate what you’re doing and have to stick it out. More than that, the company knows that when they fit that profile, you’ll be sticking around.

- Judi Perkins

Judi Perkins, the How-To Career Coach and owner of Bethel-based Find the Perfect Job, was a search consultant for 22 years. She now operates the Web site

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