I've made a lot of quick moves in my career, each for greater responsibility, and now that the economy has slowed, I'm concerned about how this "job-hopping" will be perceived by potential employers. Do you have any advice on how these moves can be best presented during my next search?
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To some degree this is a generational issue as older executives are more likely to raise an eyebrow at quick job changes. On the other hand, frequent job changes became more common during the late 90s as companies aggressively pursued candidates to help fuel their growth. This trend helped to erase some of the stigma attached to job-hopping - but it doesn't mean that a history of quick moves will be acceptable to all employers.
If you suspect your job history may be considered negatively by potential employers, then you should assume it will and take the initiative in addressing the issue during a search. In taking a proactive approach to confronting this potential problem, you will have greater control over the direction of the discussion, which will help you present the issue in the most favorable light possible. This approach should also be applied to other potential "objections" that may exist, such as age, lack of industry specific experience, etc.
When discussing your frequent moves it's important to demonstrate the increased responsibility you took on while helping the interviewer understand that another sudden change is not likely to happen again.
In a tight employment market, quick career moves are often the result of unexpected opportunities that can't be passed up - even at the risk of creating a perception of job-hopping. If this accurately describes your situation, highlight the challenges presented by each new job in detail, then emphasize how they helped you become better prepared to succeed in the position under consideration.
Your ability to explain this rationale effectively will be vital to your job search success. Therefore, it would be wise to spend some time creating a few key messages that can be used to discuss your work history during an interview. In addition to these messages, compile a list of questions you anticipate about your career moves then carefully craft positive answers that can be used in a discussion. This sort of preparation will prove invaluable as you move forward.
Hope this is helpful.
Dave Opton is CEO and Founder of ExecuNet, an online career services center for executives. For more information on executive career management visit www.execunet.com. Questions can be sent to Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org, he can't answer each individually but look for yours in an upcoming column.