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ONLINE DOCUMENT: JOB HOPPING CAN HURT YOUR RESUME

Q: I have more than 32 years of sales experience yet am currently unemployed. I am finding it extremely difficult to land a position comparable to my last. I had lengthy periods of employment with three employers, but have also had several jobs where I stayed for a year or less. A friend mentioned to me that perhaps potential employers were viewing me as a "job-hopper."

I thought in today's workplace, spending brief periods of time with numerous employers was no longer a black mark on your work history. Could you provide me with some insight?A: The workplace has changed so dramatically over the past decade that employers are more open to accepting frequent job changes than they once were. However, they also have become more astute in determining when these issues are based on legitimate work-related reasons or instead are a result of poor personal performance or lack of motivation.

When frequent job changes are made simply because a person has unrealistic expectations or is unable to adapt, it is always a red-flag for a potential employer. If your resume reflects a history of frequent job changes with no explanation, you probably are being perceived as a "job-hopper". One suggestion would be to redesign your resume using a functional, rather than chronological, format. This emphasizes your accomplishments and, although previous employers must be outlined, the frequency of change becomes less prominent.

You may have a wealth of experience; however, sales and marketing strategies have changed. Conduct a self-assessment of your skills, both professional and interviewing, to make certain you have kept current and are marketable to employers.

If you feel your work history may present a negative image, remember that more than 50 percent of all jobs are found through the referrals of family or friends. Call upon those who know you best and can deliver resumes to their employers along with a personal reference. Good luck!

Q: I supervise an individual who is truly afraid of her computer. This is not a reluctance to learn or a rebellion against technology, but simply fear that without fully understanding everything about the equipment she is sure to press a button or execute a command which will destroy the entire system.

It has begun to affect her productivity because she automatically reverts to commands with which she is comfortable even though shortcuts or more efficient methods are available. What can I do?

A: We must continue to be patient with those who have "computer-phobia." It is important to separate those who are truly fearful from those who simply refuse to accept advancing technology. It is true that the more one learns about computers, the more one realizes that it would be difficult for one person to harm the system.

Would it be possible for your organization or you to conduct a workshop teaching interested employees how the system works, what backup is used, different kinds of software, etc.? Encourage the employee to "play" with her computer and allow her time to do so. Have her experiment with commands and function keys until she is convinced that she can do no harm.

Assist her in setting goals each week that will force her to learn new processes or functions expediting her workload. Make certain that she has opportunity to demonstrate her knowledge and confidence. Above all, continue to be patient as she learns.

(Donna Cobble, who operates an employment agency in Knoxville, writes this weekly column on careers. She is supported by an advisory committee of personnel directors from private companies, public institutions and the University of Tennessee. Letters should be addressed to Careers, Knoxville News-Sentinel, P.O. Box 59038, Knoxville, Tenn. 37950-9038.)