How To Handle The Job Hopper Question

The Career Landscape Has Changed

As the economy changes and pink slips pop up, the once optional choice of changing jobs has become a mandatory step towards the top. Times change: 15 years ago employers may have easily rejected a good candidate who held five jobs in eight years. Today, in the wake of company mergers, corporate acquisitions, shutdowns, mass lay-offs and restructuring, hiring managers are more forgiving of job hoppers. They are realizing it is more of the norm.

While today’s employers may be less weary of job changers than their predecessors, some may still have misgivings. That is why you must come prepared with confident, reassuring answers to tricky questions like:

The Tough Interview Question: “Why have you switched jobs so often?”

What Is The Interviewer After?
When interviewers ask such an uncomfortable question, they are usually looking or one of the following:
A reason to choose you. Valid reason(s) for your jumping jobs.
A reason to eliminate you from the selection process. Any red flags that indicate you are the problem and will not last long at the company.

Popular Reasons For Switching Jobs Often
To receive the employer’s approval and acceptance of your reasons for changing careers, formulate an acceptable response to counter the job hopping issue. Some popular reasons for switching jobs include:
Taking care of domestic demands, death/extended illness in immediate family, etc.
Moving because of spouse’s job, desire to travel, climate, family, etc.
Continually seeking more satisfaction in the workplace
Experiencing different jobs to determine where true interests lay
Working in positions that were only temporary (internships, summer jobs, campaign work, etc.)
Wanting more responsibilities, more money, more respect, more prestige, more flexibility, etc.
Be Honest With Your Answers
Don’t try to leave employment skeletons in your closet because sooner or later, they will invariably come back to haunt you. Be bold. Take full responsibility for whatever leaps you made in your professional past and explain why you did what you did and how you’re a better candidate because of such actions.

In your answer, try to:
Tie Your Work Together. If you worked in different capacities, relate those duties to the position you’re applying for.

Answer Example:
“Since I worked in public relations, marketing and promotions, my communication skills continually improved in various mediums which would aid your advertising firm.”
Explain Why This Time Will Be Different.

If you always had to leave jobs because your husband was in the military, say how his retiring will change your pattern. If you jumped whenever another offer looked better, say how you have learned loyalty, stability and commitment take precedence over money.

Answer Example:
“After I graduated from college, I wanted to test my talents in many different fields but now I know that my true passion is for architecture.”

Reveal How Your Checkered Career Path Can Benefit The Company.
List how your skills, experience and education improved in each of your previous jobs and that such a varied background can bring a fresh perspective to the current position.

Answer Example:
“Since the film and music industries are so closely related, I feel my experience in the recording and commercial music business helped me acquire unique contacts and skills that will improve your film production company.”

Each counter to the job hopping question will vary based upon individuals and their unique experiences. Not everyone has a perfect career history but that doesn’t mean you are at a disadvantage. Use the above tips to better handle this situation during your next interview.


About The Author
Nathan Newberger is the job and career expert at Nathan has over 10 years experience in staffing and human resources. He has worked both as a recruiter and career counselor. Mr. Newberger has been the Managing Editor at for the past 5 years and his articles have helped thousands of job seekers.


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