Job Hopper or Rising Star?

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A client of mine called the other day and was worried about listing all his previous jobs on his resume.  He had only been working four years, but already had five jobs and was looking for another.  He’s not in a sought after line of work and still lives in the same apartment since college.  The reason he’s had so many jobs is he’s good at what he does, and keeps getting recruited for more money and better opportunities.


While that’s great for him, it’s a problem when applying for jobs.  Companies have gotten very rigid by requiring an online application before being considered for a job.  The cold, hard facts-- dates and all—displayed on an online application uploaded to a computer screen don’t tell the whole story.   Depending on how the online application system is programmed to interpret information and compare it to the company’s requirements, a series of short job assignments alone can disqualify a talented candidate.  Does a work history with lots of jobs in a short time span reveal  a job hopper or a rising star?


Job Hopper?

If this was 1960, the answer would be “yes.”  The Senior and Baby Boomer generations valued long-term employment.  They may have been just as unhappy in a job as the younger generations, but their work ethic and loyalty to the company made them think long and hard about making a move.   Five years at a job was considered minimum on a resume.  Less made you a risky hire.


There were other considerations as well.  Companies did have retirement programs with pension plans, employee recognition and reward programs.  A company my husband worked for gave gold Rolex watches to employees after 25 years of service.  The employee could get a solid gold Rolex for himself, or “his and hers“ 10-diamond gold and silver models.    Retirement packages paid a generous pension with free or reduced cost medical benefits as well.  A relative of mine who retired from a major automobile manufacturer can still purchase vehicles at employee discounts.  Those generous perks were often enough to stay the course.


Rising Star?

Things have changed in today’s job market.  Long-term employment, in the same company and/or job isn’t necessarily an asset.  Employers are looking for people willing to learn, grow and adjust to changing work environments and challenges.  A person who’s only had one job in 10 or 15 years may be considered set in his ways, not interested in growing, or not promotable or trainable.  In my experience it was easier to train someone who was used to change than one who had been doing things the same way for years.  Also, frequent job changes expose a person to new technologies, working methods, work environments and the opportunity to learn to work with a diverse group of individuals.  A steady job progression with more responsibility in a variety of companies or industries is an indication of a rising star.  The fact that they become a job hopper is part of the process. 



What do you think?  Is it better to stick with one job or company or take opportunities as they come?  Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.



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