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Are You Job Hopping Or Seeking Professional Development?

jobhoppingIf your resume or personal story leads potential employers to label you a “job hopper,” it’s not a good thing.

In 2014, a report was released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that between 1998-2011, individuals between the ages of 18-26 held an average of six jobs for men and 6.3 jobs for women. If these numbers are the average, then someone might reasonably assume that having more than six or seven jobs within a 13-year period could be job hopping.

Behind the negativity of the job-hopping label is a concern about your character, maturity and value. Maybe you lack the ability to follow through, or you do not know how to be a team player or commit to a purpose bigger than yourself. A potential employer might wonder whether there will be a reasonable return on the investment in you if, shortly after training, another opportunity entices you away.

As a job hopper, you are also a higher-maintenance employment candidate because your history places a greater burden on the potential employer when vetting you and checking your references. Some employers will just not want to spend the time having to verify any doubts since there are a lot of worthy candidates out there.

How self-aware are you?

As the fields of executive and team coaching grow, there is wide agreement that the most effective leaders take the time to develop a practice that enhances self-awareness. A job-hopping history raises curiosity about whether you know who you are, what you are good at, and where you can make a meaningful contribution. Smart companies know that self-aware employees are crucial: They are better at building relationships with others, they are better at managing themselves and creating positive impacts on their environments, and they often know how to adjust communication to optimize effectiveness.

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Ask yourself: Is a lack of self-awareness the reason you continue to search for the “right” fit, where you can make a long-term contribution?

But change is normal, isn’t it?

Experience and curiosity are invaluable assets in most industries. For most people, the path to finding a rewarding, long-term career is not a straight one. Many employers understand this, especially if you are re-entering the job market after a change in direction and trying to build experience.

The trick for you is to find a balance between curiosity and commitment. Take the time to think about what you do well and what you enjoy doing most. Being engaged and productive at work sometimes is the best way for new opportunities to find you. If you are self-aware, you will notice when these opportunities appear.

If your story of change is a coherent one that emerges from an engaged effort to develop and express your talents, then you are not job hopping, you are enjoying the lifelong commitment to your ongoing professional development and honing your skills.  Published in: Forbes Leadership