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Covering up your job-hopping

By Amanda McCarthy

If you have a history of moving from one job to another within a relatively short period of time, recruiters may stereotype you as a job-hopper. Some of the most common reasons for job-hopping are

*The organisation closes down
*The firm acquires or merges with another company
*The company moves its operations to a new location
*The position or function within a department dissolves and is absorbed in the business elsewhere
*The owner of the business retires
*Temporary employment, contract or short-term project work
*A job incumbent returns to their permanent public sector role after a leave of absence, travel, maternity leave, or secondment to another department
*Relocation (interstate or overseas)
*Poor performance
*Limited career progression and development opportunities
*Personality conflicts with managers or staff
*Misconduct or dishonesty
*Health reasons

Job-hopping is considered the norm in some industries. If you’re a tradesperson or a contract engineer, for example, changing jobs and having short bursts of employment is common. In fact, most recruiters of staff in these industries will not be alarmed by the high job turnover.

In other industries, though, some recruiters will look negatively on your mish-mash of short-term jobs and you may be disadvantaged when compared to other candidates with equal qualifications but stable work histories. Unfortunately, job-hopping can conjure up images that you may be unstable, disloyal, unreliable, incompetent or a potential troublemaker.

Whether this is true or not true, you need to create the best impression and win over the recruiter right from the word go.

Here are a few tips and tricks to help you overcome a job-hopping image. 

*Demonstrate to the employer that you’re an excellent worker.
*Reduce recruiter anxiety and dispel any myths by advertising the fact you’re an achiever and a top performer. Display awards, highlight your promotions and litter your resume with achievements — written or verbal commendations from managers or clients always look good. Market the fact you’re flexible, you thrive on change, you’re adaptable to new working environments and have amassed a repertoire of skills they need. Show the recruiter you can make a difference.
*Display reasons for leaving jobs in your work history. This is helpful particularly in cases where you were the unfortunate victim of circumstance such as a company closure. This clarifies the job gap and shows the employer you didn’t leave on bad terms.

Whatever you do, don’t bombard a recruiter with negative reasons for leaving a job. Announcing you left an organisation due to poor performance, were sacked, or quit because of a personal conflict does little to inspire faith in your abilities and may brand you as a dud. As a general rule of thumb, if the reason is negative don’t mention it at all in your resume.

Excerpted with permission of the publisherJohn Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd from Australian Resumes for Dummies, Copyright 2008 by Amanda McCarthy. Avaliable from all good booksellers from RRP $39.95

Published: 27 March 2008

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