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Job search tips: Addressing job hopping on a resume

Meridith Levinson | Aug. 7, 2009
Job hoppers have good reason to be concerned, say career experts and professional résumé writers.

If you're writing a two or three page résumé, Thakkar says to use half or more of the first page to summarize your value proposition to the prospective employer and your relevant accomplishments.

"Doing so will allow the hiring manager to judge the candiate based on her merit and promise as opposed to just the employment chronology," he says.

For the same reason, David Perry recommends a one page résumé that focuses on your skills, abilities, and specific projects you've completed. "You'll get interviewed based on your skills and the projects you've done," says Perry. "It completely takes the emphasis off of where you were and when you did it."

Whether you use a one or two page résumé, you must demonstrate that you're not irresponsible and that your job hopping isn't a result of repeatedly being fired. You want to show that you've made important contributions to each of your employers regardless of the length of your tenure, says Thakkar.

2. Group all of your contract or project-based work together on your résumé.

It's not uncommon for IT professionals to take on contract work during their careers, especially when they're between full-time jobs. It's also not uncommon for the projects they take on as contractors to be short-term.

Kursmark recommends grouping all of one's contract engagements under one heading, such as "Contract Work" or "IT Consultant and Contractor," and listing all of that work under one time period-the period during which the professional did all that work. It could be "January 2007 - Present."

Grouping all of that work under one umbrella makes several short-term projects look more like long-term employment. What's more, if, during the same period, you had a full-time job for only a few months because the job didn't work out, you could easily leave that job off your résumé without it looking like a gap in your employment history.

3. De-emphasize dates of employment on your résumé.

Don't draw attention to dates of employment on your résumé by setting them off on the page, putting them in bold text, on a separate line, or as headings above each position you've held. Instead, Kursmark suggests tucking them at the end of a title or job description.

Another way to de-emphasize dates, says Kursmark, is to use only years rather than months and years. Some people might argue that this tactic is misleading, and Kursmark notes that a job seeker will have to explain a short tenure in a job interview, but ultimately their goal is to get the interview. If an employer sees that a job seeker held a position for just a few months, from December 2008 through March 2009, for example, the job seeker might not get called in for an interview. But if you just use years, you draw less attention to a short tenure.


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