Business Coach Column by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) from the Manila Bulletin
I recently received an email asking for an advice. The sender was having a hard time getting a job due to what he thinks is his job-hopping record. Here’s the letter below:
“Hello Coach. I saw your article (in) the Manila Bulletin (Classifieds) and (it’s) nice to have tips like how to determine (if you are about to receive) a successful job offer. I believe you also welcome giving out advice to some people having a hard time getting a job because of (reasons) like: a number of previous short work periods or, should we shall we call it “job-hopping” due to conflicts. And now, it will have a negative effect (on my) future applications. Sir, what can you say about it and can it be resolved?”
Rejected Due to Job Hopping
There are many people in the same situation. Often they are highly qualified for the position but unfortunately, their frequent job changes cast doubt on whatever worth s/he is capable of delivering.
While it is true that most companies frown upon job-hopping, it is only one of the factors they consider. They also check if the career moves were reasonable. Otherwise, there would no longer be a need for HR’s judgment and many ambitious and talented employees would slip through their fingers.
Here are my suggestions on how a job seeker should handle this situation:
• Emphasize your positive points. Highlight the advantages of having been with many companies. Elaborate on the various capabilities you had acquired by virtue of your extensive experience. Focus on your various skills, personality, achievements, and other factors that will make you an asset to the organization you’re applying for.
• Show your connections. Especially in sales jobs, you can modestly say that you can bring your old clients and contacts to your new company. This is a very good tactic to use, particularly in the case of applicants who have a large and loyal client base.
• Reveal that you know a lot of trade secrets. This presumes, of course, that you have not signed and re bound to an existing non-compete contract which is still in force, and that the kind of knowledge you have is the type which you can legally use or divulge. Such knowledge is priceless, and that is why companies try to prevent their personnel from applying to competitors.
• State that the reason for job switching no longer exists. Say this only if it is true. For example, if the company is offering a generous compensation then you can say that if accepted there is no longer a monetary need to seek other jobs. If the reason for your frequent career change is to take care of a sick child or parent then you say this issue has been resolved if this is in fact the truth.
• Conceal your employment history. HR people are experts at flushing out hidden histories. Leaving out a certain company in your resume will create an employment gap that will certainly raise questions. Doing this will only make your omission the focus of the interview. Even worse, if the fact is discovered later, it may be a basis for your termination, especially if you are still on probationary status, on the basis of misrepresentation.
• Malign your previous employer. Avoid the temptation to use your old company as a scapegoat to justify your leaving the company or to excuse your bad behavior. Any such comments will be thought of as self-serving and malicious. But what if indeed your previous employer was at fault? Sometimes you can be frank as when they are no longer paying your salaries but in most cases, it would be prudent to be tactful in your reply. Remember that it is highly probable that they will call your old company to hear their side.
• Accept a substandard job too soon. Experts are divided on this point, with one side advocating holding out until you get the job you desire, while the others state that you cannot be choosy and that a long layoff will look worse in your resume. I would say that it depends on your situation. If you have enough reserve resources (savings, etc.) to continue searching then you can be more picky. Accepting an unsatisfactory position may make you go job-hopping again!
The business environment has drastically changed and high paying jobs abroad, frequent restructurings, mergers, and the entrance of new players have made it less likely for a person to be in one company for a long period. These developments have tempered how employers view the character of “job hoppers”. They are no longer automatically branded as misfits. While frequent job changes still are considered a warning sign, they no longer are the career killers they once were. If done for the right reasons, being a job hopper is no longer to be feared.
One last advice though! Do a self-analysis. Perhaps your frequent job shifts is a sign of a more serious problem, either in performance or behavior. Ask yourself what the real reason is for the frequent changes, then get started by changing whatever traits are involved. If the trouble is in your performance, then get additional training to make you a better performer.
I hope I have helped you. Do email me again if you have other concerns.
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