One of the worst labels an executive can get is “job hopper”. This is an executive who has had multiple employment changes in a short period of time.
In the eyes of the prospective employer this raises many red flags. Job hoppers are usually the first candidates to be ruled out by employers and search firms as there are so many good candidates who don’t carry this baggage.
There are many reasons for too many career changes. These can be:
-the idea that one should always be looking for the next job
-listening to a self-interested recruiter who wants the executive to move on to earn another fee.
We all make bad choices. Once is understandable. After that, it is a reflection upon the individual’s personal judgment or his/her inability to do good due diligence before accepting new employment.
Obviously, the executive who changes employment because of incompetence or malfeasance is always eliminated.
Just as importantly, the one who is always looking for his/her next job with another employer is also eliminated from candidate slates. The reason is simple. Employers are not simply looking to fill a position. They want someone in whom they can invest for future returns.
The tough issue is for those who ran into unfortunate circumstances.
-They had to leave an organization because of personal or family illness
-The family ended up not making the move or could not accept the new city
-The executive who followed a superior to a new company and accepted the superior’s due diligence on the new company which failed shortly afterwards.
-The new employer was acquired or new management was installed that terminated current employees.
-The economy tanked in 2009.
One of these events in a career is understandable. But two or three such events make it difficult to avoid the deadly job hopper label. Be honest and factual when you describe the circumstances to a prospective employer. Covering up your mistakes will only hurt you.
If you are labeled as a job hopper, it is very similar to having a low credit score. You can work your way out of it. You need to be dedicated to your new employer and committed to building your new career in that organization.
If you are tempted to make a jump simply to catch up with your peers, consider that you may be about to commit a fatal error.