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IT career tips to avoid the job hopper label

Rich Hein | April 3, 2013
Is being considered a job hopper the kiss of death for job seekers or is it the new norm? It all depends on the underlying reasons and how it's presented.

Job Hopping Exceptions

In many situations, according to Jalali, IT pros could be job hopping through no fault of their own. It could be a case of outsourcing, downsizing or a failed startup. These are situations prospective employees have no control over. "We definitely don't screen them out for that reason. When we look at resumes we spend a lot less time looking at how long they spent at a job. We definitely look at it and if it's questionable we'll bring it up in the interview."

"What we typically find is that companies are hiring tech guys or developers to come in and work on some big projects that may last 18 months or so, but after that they have to move on. You can't treat that the same way you would other positions at a company," says Jalali.

Handling Interview Questions

What Mattson, in her role as a career coach, tells clients to do in interview situations is to answer this question before it's asked. "When you take control over telling your story, you're not as apprehensive about waiting to be asked. Sometimes people get nervous, but I encourage them to take control, give the business reason as to why they are no longer there," says Mattson.

She also encourages clients to admit what they would have done differently. She offers this as an example, "As I look at the last five years of my career, early on I made great career decisions staying longer and working my way up through the ranks, but the past few years I perhaps didn't do enough due diligence to make sure it was the right fit to do my best work. What I'm doing moving forward is to make sure I ask the right questions to make sure it's a good fit for you and a good fit for me."

What Interviewers Don't Want to Hear

There are a few reasons an employer definitely doesn't want to hear, according to experts.

Boredom is seldom a compelling reason for leaving, for example. Another bad reason is financial gain, employers don't like to see someone who is simply job-hopping to get more money. "It is frowned upon when someone is clearly doing it for financial or monetary reasons," says Jalali. He goes on to point out, however, that it happens regularly and many times people are able to increase their salary by as much as 10-15 percent.

They also don't want to hear that an employee has left more than one position because they didn't get along with their boss or coworkers. It's never a good idea to bad mouth your boss or your last employer In the end, they'll likely think that you are the common denominator in those situations.


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