Leverage Your Added Value as a “Job Hopper”

I was recently coaching a job seeker who was lamenting the fact that she has had multiple job changes over a course of five years. She attempted to minimize attention to this fact by combining positions on her résumé, not revealing that she had recently ended one job and begun another. She attempted to direct the employer’s attention to what she labeled “Summary of Qualifications”, although nowhere on the résumé did she answer the question, “Qualifications for what?”

Her situation was not unique. In fact, the norm is for people to change jobs as many as nine times during their career: many by choice; others by circumstance. Companies merge, restructure, are acquired or shut their doors, and talented, hard working employees loose their jobs. A shaky economy results in fewer direct hires and companies turn to employment agencies to fill vacant positions with short-term, contract professionals.

My client realized this, yet she felt somewhat ashamed of her many job changes. When she was successful with her résumé disguise and landed an interview, she quickly turned things around by responding to the hiring manager’s innocent inquiry about her job changes with a defensive stance, stating a version of, “It’s not me, it’s the economy.”

Trying to disguise the facts or hoping the employment market would “go back to the way it use to be” was getting her nowhere. There is no question, the employment market HAS changed, many of these changes are permanent, and many more changes are on the horizon. Before she could successfully secure employment, she first needed to accept this new reality and then work on putting a positive spin on her experience.

“Acceptance” is an internal change and it takes time. Putting a positive spin on her experience was something she and I could begin doing right away.

“Acceptance” is an internal change and it takes time. Putting a positive spin on her experience was something she and I could begin doing right away.

My client is a senior accountant and has worked for three staffing agencies since 2006. During that time she held contract positions with a globally recognized Fortune 500 manufacturing firm, a multimillion-dollar leader in the publishing industry, the world’s most famous arena located in the heart of NYC and is currently on assignment with one of the leading arts schools in the United States.

Sadly, she decided not to include this information on her résumé and robbed herself of an opportunity to share her experience managing financial applications for multiple business models. Instead, she merely listed accounting duties she performed during specific time periods.

I pointed this out to her and asked her what else she gained through her experiences and what added value she could offer a prospective employer. She told me she demonstrated ability to quickly respond to change and adapt to new environments and was sensitive to cultural differences in companies and people. She has learned and used multiple accounting software applications. She has grown a large and diverse network of professional contacts and brings a more global perspective of what is happening in the industry than she would have had she only worked for one employer. In each of her assignments she leveraged lessons learned from previous assignments to improve processes and create efficiencies.

Managing change – being culturally sensitive learning and using new technology keeping pace with industry evolution improving processes and cutting costs.

These are skills that are in high demand by companies and for which they are willing to pay a premium salary to the candidate who possess them. My client had never looked at it this way before, but suddenly the light came on. She had nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, she had things to offer that eluded many competing job candidates.

She had created a false barrier that was holding her back. Once she realized that she was the one who had put it there in the first place, it was easy to remove and begin using as a key to open new doors.

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