Job-hoppers find going tough in lean market

Knight Ridder Newspapers

Workers who have changed jobs frequently in recent years are more likely to be the victims of job cuts than they were in the past.

Chicago outplacement firm Challenger, Gray &; Christmas Inc. found in its most recent Job Market Index that 39.1 percent of unemployed job seekers in the fourth quarter had worked for four or more companies.

That was up from 34.27 percent in the third quarter, suggesting companies are quicker to cut job-hoppers.

In addition, the percentage of job seekers who had worked for only one company in their careers dropped from 10.48 percent to 9.93 percent.


Ralph Stow, co-founder and senior vice president of the technology executive recruiting firm Whitehouse &; Pimms ( in Dallas, said job-hopping is a concern as companies have turned their focus in the last several months to employee ethics.

"Ethics are a very difficult thing to find on a resume or read in some kind of flat document," he said.

Job-hopping gets grouped under ethics, Stow said, because companies are often concerned that tech workers who jumped from job to job during the boom are interested in only money.

Furthermore, companies are relying on employees who have remained through tough times. They fear job-hoppers might abandon ship when they're needed most.

Some companies might be cutting job-hoppers as a pre-emptive strike, he said.

Still, experts say technology workers should refrain from hiding their wandering work history when they apply for jobs.

With tech executives in particular, hiring companies are scrutinizing work history more than in years past, said Mark Rich, vice president and co-founder of Whitehouse &; Pimms.

"One thing I've seen on our latest searches (is) everyone is going to more formal reference-checking and being asked to provide four, five, six references," he said.


"People are becoming more negative on the job-hopping than they were a couple of years ago. The reality is that we're certainly seeing some employers become much more unlikely to consider that candidate."

But all hope is not lost for candidates whose resumes read like a tech roadmap, Stow said.

"From a candidate's perspective, if you do have multiple jobs on your resume -- and particularly with technology companies, we see a lot of that -- I think you need to be able to weave a very logical story," he said.

"Why did you go from firm A to B to C? What did you provide to each one of those employers as you went along the way?"

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