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I started a new position about 5 months ago. I do not like it and wish to start interviewing...the problem is that I could be seen as a job hopper since my last 4 stints lasted 2 years, 1.5 years*, 8 months, 1 year*. (*The same employer.)

My current company does some things that are in the ethical gray area, particularly price-scraping and bot-detection diversion. These clearly violate the terms of service for the sites we scrape. This is an increasingly common part of my job description. Even though it really doesn't bother me too much, I was thinking it could be an effective 'why do you want to leave your current employer' reason. The actual reasons are more about their work environment(nobody speaks to one another or even pretends to be friendly, on average 100 words are shared between my 5 team members a week).

I'm worried that if I bring the environment up as a reason for leaving, it does not play well with my "job hopper" history.

Is there a tactful way to present this during interviews without throwing my current company under the bus and making me look like I'm badmouthing them to a prospective employer? What should I keep in mind if I use this approach?

Additional note: the scraping was described as simply "webscraping" in my interview. I guess I was naive or just ignorant (all of my experience prior has been enterprise level, this is a small marketing firm), but it was not explicitly stated as "we are going to scrape prices from competitors against their ToS and sell that information"

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    @JoeStrazzere Yes, that's effectively it. – User9123 Jan 20 at 1:03
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    @JoeStrazzere like anyone else, I pick and choose what I do and do not say during an interview. If my boss is an abusive, moody scatterbrain, plus I've been forced into 70 hour workweeks, then I'll probably use the 70 hour workweek as a reason for looking when I interview. Even if it's ultimately the boss. I can see that you want to paint me as a liar here(I thought this might happen) but their practices do bother me, but for the sake of "playing the game" I could embellish that over some other issues. – User9123 Jan 20 at 1:16
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    If I'm understanding, your current employer was also a previous employer. If so, it seems tough to explain anything as ethical issues since you came back to the same employer so quickly. – Justin Cave Jan 20 at 1:25
  • @JustinCave The jobs listed were my 4 previous jobs, I've been at the one in question for 5 months. – User9123 Jan 20 at 1:28
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It's going to be hard to counter the impression that you're a job hopper. Even if you had a perfect explanation for the most recent 5 month stint, your last 4 positions are all pretty short term (if you happen to be a highly in demand developer in the middle of Silicon Valley where tenures tend to be shorter, you might get a bit more of a break). It's pretty unlikely that someone is going to believe that the issue in all those cases was with the employers.

I'd suggest doing some introspection on why you're moving on so quickly. Figure out what the common denominator is and figure out what a new position would need to have to cause you to stick around for a while. When you get asked about why you've changed jobs so frequently, explain what you learned about yourself and what you see in the new company that leads you to believe that the pattern isn't going to repeat itself.

If you keep leaving because the new company offers a promotion that the current company can't match, for example, look for employers that are growing and talk a lot about promoting from within. If you keep leaving because you need a more social workplace, look for employers that have open office plans and emphasize collaboration. Of course, that's going to involve doing a bit more legwork before applying to make sure that the new employer is a better fit but you're much better off doing that legwork now rather than looking to escape yet another position in a few months.

  • His work history is nothing unusual in Europe either. 1,5 to 2 years is a fairly normal stint per employer as a software developer. Only the old-fashioned companies would think twice, but then again one probably wouldn't want to work for them either. – Juha Untinen Jan 20 at 11:42
  • Agree. There's no good way to whitewash returning to a previous employer and then jumping ship again so soon – Eric Jan 20 at 19:28
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You do not have to give any reason for leaving a position. But bad mouthing your present employer is generally a bad idea and won't give any impression that you're not a job hopper.

It's best to give positive reasons such as the position you're applying for is more in line with your career goals etc,. and ignore the whole job hopper angle.

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