Job Hopping Revisited

Subject: Job Hopping Revisited
From: Moshe Koenig <alsacien -at- NETVISION -dot- NET -dot- IL>
Date: Mon, 7 Oct 1996 22:19:22 PDT

With all the arguments I've heard against people who move around,
there's one argument I've yet to hear anyone bring up: how an
employer treats employees. That issue rarely comes up.

Since 1992, I've been rather mobile, but the reasons were objective.
Two employers I left because they treated me very badly and paid me
less than less-qualified personnel. Another employer had to let me
go as a salaried employee because of a drop in profits but kept
giving me work as a contractor. Still another, the ubiquitous Intel,
closed the site where I was working because of managerial problems.
The interim period I filled in with non-stop freelance work. A
person reading a resume might be alarmed to see a person who had
covered that much ground, but the question that came to my mind was
how the employer intended to treat me.

I know of many quality technical writers who have been sitting for
many years in companies who give them respectable salaries but treat
them like galley slaves. They hate their jobs and radiate extreme
burnout, but they are paid too much to ask the same salary from
another company. When I interviewed in places where I caught that
kind of atmosphere in the department, I usually said, "No thanks,"
because I'd never be able to forgive myself if I ended up buried
in a job that I hated. A job doesn't have to be something you hate.

I know that whenever I get the icy stare and hear the question about
"instability" from an employer, I know that I'm about to enter a
concentration camp and I run. I also will not stay in a job where
the manager chooses to snipe at me personally in front of the staff,
which is what happened at the job I left in 1993, slamming the door
behind me. What salary would compensate me for the insults, made on
the most personal level, from a department manager who was also doing
his best to credit someone else with my work? If that makes me
unstable, so be it, but I can't see justifying staying in such hell
for any longer than necessary.

The financial end may look like the reason for it all -- and it's a
strong reason (I've more than quadrupled my income since 1992) --
but it's not the only reason. Here in Israel, employers don't think
twice about asking a candidate to disclose salaries paid in former
jobs. When they see the massive increases I've gotten with each new
job, they then ask, "What's to prevent you from leaving a job with
us if someone offers you more?" I reply, "So offer me a lot to start
with. It's your best insurance policy!" The employers who back off
weren't serious to start with; I had employers offer what I was

Ultimately, I went for the job that regarded the qualities that other
employers had seen as negative qualities as positive qualities:
creativity, independence, self-reliance, orientation towards results,
and a record of happy customers. The other employers disliked the
attractiveness these qualities might have in the eyes of others; the
company that welcomed these qualities was the one I chose. Thus far,
I'm feeling comfortable; that's the difference between taking a job
whose description matches the actual job and taking a job whose
description is a fabrication designed to lure a candidate into a trap.

- Moshe

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