The job hopper dilemma

Too often, perfectly qualified, talented candidates fail to make it through the initial resume screening stage.

In many instances, resume typos or an overwhelming amount of competition is to blame. However, there’s another, often overlooked, culprit that prevents job seekers from scoring interviews. It’s their history as a job hopper.

The term “job hopper” describes an individual who has been employed in a series of short-term stints with a handful of employers, according to Louise Kursmark, author of Sales & Marketing Resumes for $100,000 Careers, Third Edition.

Instances of job hopping tend to make employers doubt everything from the candidate’s behaviour on the job to their ability to make a long-haul commitment to an employer. These doubts are all it takes to prompt an employer to reject a job seeker before he or she has ever scored an interview.

In fact, 40% of the recruiters, hiring managers and HR representatives interviewed for Kursmark’s book listed “job hopping” as a reason for immediately discarding a resume.

Kursmark suggests these tips for job hoppers.

Consider eliminating one or more of your jobs, provided that doing so does not leave a gap that will provoke immediate questioning, thereby spotlighting the very thing you want to downplay.

If circumstances beyond your control contributed to your short tenure, consider adding a brief explanation along the lines of “Merger with Megacorp eliminated all regional sales offices in spring 2009” or “Sales unit dissolved when software was discovered to be unready for market.” Generally, Kursmark advises against explaining or excusing in a resume, but says that sometimes brief statements such as these can immediately overcome a negative reaction.

Concentrate on finding job opportunities through networking, where a personal referral can get you in the door and you can then wow the interviewer with your capabilities and provide a rationale for the short tenure of your recent jobs.

Kursmark adds, “Be as certain as you can that your next position gives you several-year stability, so that you don’t face the same situation again in the near future.”