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U.S., Canadian employers put off by 'job-hopping' applicants

A history of job hopping raises more concerns among employers in North America than in other parts of the world.

Despite a trend away from the concept of a job for life, 57 per cent of Canadian and American recruiters and managers said they have reservations when making decisions about whether to hire job candidates who have multiple employers or a number of short job tenures on their résumé, a poll by staffing service Right Management found.

That compared to 50 per cent of managers in Asia, and 38 per cent of those in Europe, in the poll of more than 2,000 internal and external recruiters and hiring managers in 17 countries.

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"We found statistically significant differences, with Canada and the U.S. most resistant to candidates that come across as job hoppers," said Monika Morrow, senior vice-president of career management for Right Management, a division of Manpower. "This was a surprise, since we figured American and Canadian managers were more aware than most of the job market turmoil of the past decade or more,"

Ms. Morrow said she believes that having numerous former positions should not by itself disqualify a job candidate. "Certainly many job changes would have to be explained if the individual gets to the interview." But in most cases, there are legitimate reasons for making a job switch.

In fact, 41 per cent of the respondents globally said they would not regard multiple jobs negatively if the overall experience the candidate gained in the jobs was relevant to the position they were trying to fill. Other respondents would take into account whether the candidate was in an early or middle career stage, in which case frequent job changes are more common.

In other areas of hiring decision making, the poll showed only marginal differences among North American, European or Asian respondents.

The study found that one in three survey respondents expect an increase in contract, project and temporary staff in the next five years. "This will heighten the frequency of jobs noted on resumes, adding to the reality that job-hopping when contracting is completely normal," Ms. Morrow noted.

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Wallace Immen is an award-winning staff writer for The Globe and Mail whose stories about workplace trends and career advice, as well as about cruising and travel destinations around the world appear regularly in print and on-line. He has worn many hats in his career with the Globe, including science writer, medical writer and columnist, urban affairs reporter and travel writer. More

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