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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.

4. Explain a short tenure.

If circumstances beyond your control, such as a merger or global reorganization, contributed to your short tenure, Kursmark says a brief explanation of the event on your résumé can show hiring managers that you weren't job hopping. Just don't explain your reason for leaving every job listed on your résumé, says Kursmark. It can look like you're making excuses. You also don't want to give the impression that you're always in the first wave of downsizing at every company.

5. When in doubt, leave it out.

"It's perfectly o.k. to omit a job from your résumé that is irrelevant to the position you're applying for, that was short-term, or didn't work out," says Kursmark. "You don't have to include everything you've ever done." After all, she adds, the purpose of a résumé is to summarize a job seeker's qualifications and experience.

Thakkar agrees that leaving a job that lasted a year or less off your résumé shouldn't impact you too much. But if you leave off a job where you worked for two or more years, you must find a way to fill in that gap in your work history, he adds.

If a prospective employer finds out about a position you left off your résumé through a background or reference check, you'll obviously need to explain it. Kursmark advises job seekers to tell employers that they only included the professional experience that was most relevant to the prospective employer on their résumé.

6. Network your way to job opportunities.

If your résumé shows evidence of job hopping and you're applying for jobs you find online, your résumé is going to get screened out, says Thakkar. Networking is a more effective job search strategy for professionals concerned about the appearance of job hopping. If you can talk your way into a new job, "you're not just a résumé but a person with some value, skills and talent you can bring to an organization," says Kursmark. What's more, prospective employers will be less concerned with your employment history if you've already impressed them with your experience.

7. Diffuse employers' concerns about your job hopping.

If you're able to score a job interview despite job hopping in your past, you'll have to address your employment history during the interview, says Kursmark. So you need to be prepared to explain your short tenures in a positive and credible manner.

You could say that you spent a few years trying to discover what you wanted to do professionally, and as a result, you were willing to take jobs that weren't a perfect fit because you wanted to explore different fields, says Kursmark. If you offer that explanation, she adds, you will have to explain how you learned what you love to do and why the position for which you're interviewing is a perfect match.


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