Call it "The Job Hopper's Dilemma." It's the fear, uncertainty and doubt that overcomes IT professionals who've held multiple jobs during a short span of time when they need to apply for a new job. They worry that their job hopping will hamper their job searches, but they don't know how to mitigate the issue.
Job hoppers have good reason to be concerned, say career experts and professional résumé writers.
"Employers who are hiring these days are looking through a stack of résumés, and they're looking for any reason to trim down that stack, including job hopping," says Louise Kursmark, a professional résumé writer and principal of Best Impression, which provides career-related services to executives.
Indeed, 40 percent of the recruiters, hiring managers and HR professionals that Kursmark interviewed for a recent book listed job hopping as a reason for immediately discarding a résumé.
"If someone thinks you're a job hopper, you're never going to get an interview," says David Perry, author of Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0 (Wiley 2009).
Job seekers might think these snap judgments are unfair, especially if they believe they have valid reasons for leaving jobs after less than a year. But employers have their own valid concerns about job hoppers.
"Job hopping suggests instability," says Kursmark. "The concern is that you get fired a lot, which is not good; that you get bored a lot, which is not good; that you're not good at choosing jobs that are right for you; or that you misled an employer at the time of your hire."
Some employers worry that professionals hop from job to job to steal trade secrets, notes Nimish Thakkar, a certified career coach and professional résumé writer who runs ResumeCorner.com and SAICareers.com.
Because hiring is expensive, time consuming, and a drag on employers' resources, adds Kursmark, they don't want to risk hiring someone with a questionable employment record and having to go through the recruitment process all over again a few months later.
Given the many red flags job hopping raises for employers, it's no wonder it's a liability for job seekers.
"You can minimize the impact of job hopping, but you can't eliminate it," says Thakkar.
A job hopper's best defense, then, is to emphasize skills and accomplishments on the résumé rather than tenure with each job, the experts say. Here are seven tips for downplaying job hopping on your résumé. These tactics should increase your odds of getting called in for job interviews despite the appearance of job hopping in your past.