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Job Magician Job Hoppers Need to Use Different Job Hunting Techniques

  • If your career track makes you look like a job hopper, you should skip trying to get jobs through ads and direct mail. Concentrate on networking instead.

This one might hurt, but I’m going to tell it to you anyway.

If your work history makes you look like a job hopper, you have some major strikes against you. You’re going to have a tougher time finding a job in this economy.  You’re likely to get nowhere by applying to ads, contacting recruiters or with direct mail.

This recession has been very cruel to job hoppers.  Last year, a venture capitalist named Mark Suster wrote a pretty harsh entry in his blog entitled, Never Hire Job Hoppers. Never. They Make Terrible Employees. He may come across as fuming in this, but his blog entry will give you a pretty good idea of how employers view candidates.

What is a job hopper? Bear in mind, most job hoppers don’t think they are job hoppers, and feel they have a unique story to explain their career choppiness. Those on the hiring end have heard every possible story, every possible excuse. Executive jobs take a year before the person can figure out what is going on. And it takes five years (perhaps as few as three in some cases) to see the long-term effects of the changes that you make. If you have had a series of one-to-three year jobs, you are a job hopper. If you’ve had five jobs in the last fifteen years, you’re a job hopper. Sorry.

You probably have a great story about what has happened – why you changed jobs. No one who doesn’t know you is going to give you a chance to tell your story.

If you were laid off from a job in 2008 and were laid off again in 2010, most people will let that pass. This recession stinks.

Some people I speak to are furious because they are getting nowhere, despite applying to hundreds or thousands of ads. When I look at their resumes, the answer is obvious. They’ve had too many jobs. They don’t realize that their resume arrives in a pile with 100 to 1000 other resumes. They’re read by a bleary-eyed person who screens most out in 15 seconds. That screener culls out those with shaky job histories quickly.

Some try to cover up their backgrounds with a functional resume. My suspicion when you send me a functional resume is that you’re hiding something. Don’t try extending assorted job tenures to make job gaps and short jobs disappear. I, along with other employers, know how to find out when someone does that. Some resume books claim that a resume is an ad and not a legal document like a job application, so you only have to tell what you want to tell. Employers don’t view it that way, however. Get caught fudging on your resume, and they’ll wonder what else you’re fudging. You’ll be out.

Don’t send out one-page letters, teasing the employers to call you if they want to know more. I’ve gotten tons of those, and have never called one of them.

The solution is not to invest your time applying to ads, contacting recruiters that don’t know you, or sending direct mail.

When you’re coming in cold, you’re automatically suspect. I don’t know you. The employer doesn’t know you. You’re going to be held to a higher standard.

The only people likely to overlook your job hopping are people who know you, or who are close connections to your trusted connections.

Networking is the best job hunting tool. If you’re a job hopper, it’s really your only one, if you want to work for someone other than yourself. If you’ve had a lot of jobs, and you’re good, there are a lot of people who know you and love you. You’ll need to depend on them for your next job.

Getting to a point I just made in the above paragraph above, if you’ve changed jobs a lot in your career and are now looking for something else, maybe now is the time to consider working for yourself. Many people not suited for corporate careers job hop – they’re not tolerant with the bureaucracy, they can be charming but also rub people the wrong way, and if they can continue to get jobs, they are probably good at selling themselves. These are the classic attributes of an entrepreneur. If this is you, consider becoming a consultant, a contractor or starting a business.

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