Job Hopper or Contractor?

by Brian Skory

Now and then, someone will send me a resume that shows a great skills match for a job, but also causes concern because of an unusually high number of job changes shown on the resume. Job hopper, uncommitted, or lack of stability are just a few of the things that may come to the mind of a hiring manager.

Although some candidates are guilty as charged, it certainly isn’t always the case. Unless a clear explanation is presented, my experience is that a hiring manager will often assume the job hopper case to be so—and may decline the candidate for that reason.

To prevent that from occurring unnecessarily, be sure to clearly call out the reasons for moving on from a job. Here are three possible examples you would want to be sure to highlight.

  1. Positions were contracts through an agency and the contracts were of finite length. If that is the case, be sure to display that clearly. "ABC Agency, 2010-2011, 1 year contract assignment at Such-and-Such Company. Contract was successfully completed."

If several of your contracts were through the same agency, list that agency as one employer with the different assignments as separate items underneath. That way it is clear that you had one employer with several different assignments.

  1. Perhaps several of the companies you joined had workforce reductions or even went out of business. Be sure to note that. If it was a workforce reduction, list the number of people laid off, if possible. "Department of seven developers laid off in a workforce reduction," leaves little doubt about the reason you left.
  2. Possibly you were married to a spouse whose education or job required several moves. If that was the case, call it out on your resume—and especially note if it is no longer a factor.

The idea here is that a resume creates a first impression in the mind of a hiring manager. Be sure to do everything you can to minimize those things on your resume which might not create the impression you desire.

As always, we're interested in hearing how your job search is going. Feel free to contact us.
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