Job Hopping: When to Stop Moving

When I started a career in journalism after college, three jobs in the first five years seemed like a lot of moving around at the time. It pales to today’s generation as many are searching for that right opportunity and proper work-life balance.

But when do company representatives start to view too much mobility as a negative? Robert Half has some perspective, in an informal survey.

Leaving one job for a better one can be a smart career move, but too many employment changes in a short time span can give human resources (HR) managers cause for concern. In a Robert Half survey, HR managers interviewed said an average of five job changes in 10 years can prompt worries you’re a job hopper.

The survey was developed by Robert Half, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm, and conducted by an independent research firm. It is based on interviews with more than 300 HR managers at companies with 20 or more employees in the United States.

“The job market has been unpredictable in recent years, and employers understand job candidates may have had short stints in some positions,” said Paul McDonald, Robert Half senior executive director. “However, businesses look for people who will be committed to the organization, can contribute to the company, and help it reach its short- and long-term goals. Too much voluntary job hopping can be a red flag.”

Robert Half offers questions to consider when determining if you should stay at your current job or look for a new one:

  • Why do you want a new opportunity? Are you looking for greater challenge or more money? A shorter commute or more flexible hours? A better relationship with your manager? Be sure to keep the job factors that are most important to you at the forefront of your decision and pursue a new opportunity only if it helps address those issues.
  • Have you looked within? Don’t assume you need to leave your company to find the job you want. There may be other jobs with your current employer that are a better fit.
  • Where is the greatest long-term potential and stability? Is your best chance to build your skills and advance your career with your existing firm or another one? Which business is on the most solid footing? You don’t want to make a move only to learn your career progression is stalled, or your new company is struggling.

‘Suit Up’ for IT Job Interviews

Sometimes it’s best not to imitate what you see on TV and the Internet (great advice, I know), especially when it comes to fashion choices for the workplace.

Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg is well-known for promoting his social media juggernaut while sporting hoodies or dark grey t-shirts. And those young technology creators in the new Samsung commercials are dressed down in jeans and t-shirts while discussing their “Unicorn Apocalypse” phone application.

While Facebook has been wildly successful and those creative geniuses look like they are having a blast deciding whether or not the unicorn zombies should have glitter in their manes (I couldn’t even make this stuff up if I wanted to) – it’s best not to expect a relaxed atmosphere when interviewing for IT jobs.

In fact, a recent survey from Robert Half Technology says IT professionals seeking a new job in Indianapolis should interview in a suit if they expect to be taken seriously. Almost half of Indianapolis chief information officers (49%, over the national average of 46%) cited a formal business suit as the appropriate interview attire.

If you don’t have a suit, khakis and a collared shirt were preferred with 34% of respondents; tailored separates were then preferred by 14% of the CIOs interviewed nationally. Only 4% of CIOs expected anyone to show up wearing jeans and a polo shirt.

Of course, the point is to let your skills and experience shine – so don’t overdo or try to be ironic by showing up in a tuxedo with tails or ball gown, either.

Wanted: More Legal Assistance

Recent news from the legal profession has focused on the difficulty of new lawyers in finding jobs. Is that changing? A third of law firms and corporations participating in a quarterly survey indicated they are seeking to hire full-time legal staff.

The Robert Half Legal Hiring Index noted that just 2% anticipate staff reductions. The net 30% of respondents projecting an increase in hiring activity is up eight points from the previous quarter’s forecast. Law firms are expected to do the majority of the hiring in the upcoming quarter.

Business optimism also is improving. Eighty-four percent of lawyers polled are at least somewhat confident in their organizations’ growth prospects for the third quarter, up 16 points from the second-quarter survey.

Among other findings:

  • The three most in-demand positions are lawyers, paralegals and legal secretaries.
  • The practice areas expected to see the most growth in the third quarter are general business/commercial law, labor, and employment and litigation.
  • For the first time since Robert Half Legal began conducting the quarterly hiring survey in early 2010, bankruptcy/foreclosure was not among the top three practice areas.
  • Finding the right talent remains challenging, according to 51% of lawyers, although this number is down eight points from the second-quarter survey. 

Revitalize that Job Search

Still looking for a job at a reputable Indiana business? While job searching can be painful and frustrating, there are ways to optimize your ability to land work. Staffing firm Robert Half offers five tips for revitalizing a lengthy job search:

  • Reconsider the chronological resume. A new format, such as one that highlights skills versus work history, may be more productive.
  • Invest in new packaging.  If an extended search in a particular industry or field isn’t yielding results, focus on how you could repackage your transferable skills for a different industry or type of role.
  • Switch up your networking. People tend to focus on certain groups or techniques (e.g., using LinkedIn to make connections or attending regular trade association meetings).  Look for different groups to join, and new ways to meet people outside of your usual circle.
  • Get a second opinion. Do you get lots of interviews, but no second calls? Ask a friend with good professionals judgment to give you feedback on your interview performance. Or perhaps your resume hasn’t landed you any interviews. Have a recruiter or trusted friend give you their ideas.
  • Expand your reach.  Some parts of the country are recovering faster than others. If your search isn’t working in a particular area, could you look at a move to a different city? Large staffing firms who have offices nationwide can connect you with jobs outside of your immediate locale.

Keep it Lean

It seems EFFICIENCY may be the name of the game in 2011. Businesses are running lean at the moment, and looking to get the most out of their new structures. An e-mail release from Robert Half Technology explains the top IT jobs in the coming year will be geared around streamlining efforts.

Finding a job may be high on many professionals’ list of New Year’s Resolutions. To narrow the search for those in the IT industry, Robert Half Technology has identified the hottest IT positions for 2011.  Among them:

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Technical Developer – Base compensation for these professionals is projected to increase 5.2 percent next year. ERP enables organizations of all sizes to improve efficiency and cut costs. Since no two companies are alike, developers are in steady demand to customize software according to specific organizational needs.
Business Intelligence Analyst – Average starting salaries for business intelligence analysts will rise 5 percent. Companies need analysts who can guide decision-making processes in a constantly changing business environment, and help reduce costs and better evaluate internal and external clients.
Data Modeler – As firms analyze more complex data and create custom applications, they require skilled modelers who can design methods for handling, processing and evaluating material. Data modelers can expect base compensation to rise 4.5 percent over 2010 levels.

The common thread among these jobs is that they help businesses improve efficiency and profits, and foster a more positive customer experience.