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5 Job Hops Can Kill Your Career

Brian O'Connell

NEW YORK (TheStreet) — It's no secret that frequent moves from employer to employer - known as "job-hopping" — doesn't look good on a resume, and that too much threatens your career path and may take you out of consideration for a dream job down the road.

New research from Robert Half UK shows the threat is worse than you might think.

Change jobs five times or more and you run a serious risk of stopping your career cold, according to Half's research of 200 U.K. companies. Job hops set off all kinds of alarm bells among hiring managers, "prompting worry amongst employers and possibly having you removed from consideration" for a job, Half says.

How serious are companies about denying job-hoppers access to good jobs?

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Robert half says that more than half of all companies surveyed said they would cut a job applicant loose if he or she had a serious track record of going from job to job. Small companies, in particular, feel this way, with 93% saying they would remove an applicant from consideration if he or she broke the "five job, 10-year rule." But even midsize and large companies feel largely the same, with 82% and 84% respectively saying they would block the hiring of a job hopper.

Hiring managers understand times have changed, and that job loyalty is a two-way street. But that outlook goes only so far.

"The job market has rebounded in recent years, and employers understand that job candidates may have had short stints in some positions," says Phil Sheridan, a senior managing director at Robert Half. "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."

How can you avoid falling victim to the dreaded job-hopper brand? Half's advice:

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Examine your goals - and stick to them. What do you want from a job? A big paycheck? A shorter commute? Good health care benefits? Only pursue job opportunities that cover those goals.

Look inside first. The default reflex among job-hoppers is to look outside the company for better opportunities. But that is shortsighted, Half says. "Don't assume you need to leave your company to find the job you want," the firm says. "There may be other jobs with your current employer that are a better fit."

Take the long view. Which company offers the best long-term prospects? That's the key question Half asks of employees. Answer it and you'll find a company you can call home for a long time. Don't answer it and you'll increase your chances of moving on sooner than you thought. "You don't want to make a move only to learn your career progression is stalled, or your new company is struggling," Half advises.

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