While once considered detrimental, when played right, having many companies on your resume could boost desirability.

In years past, job hopping may have been considered detrimental to a job seeker, but these days, employers like to see a breadth of experience at different organizations. That said, many new companies over a short period of time, especially in varying positions, will raise red flags and could work against you. However, working for four or five companies over a 15 or 20 year career may actually increase your desirability to future employers.

Under what circumstances should you seek a position at another company? One strong reason is if you learn that your company is a candidate for acquiring another firm or is itself being bought out. When a company is merged or acquired, the new management will immediately evaluate employee ranks and decipher redundancies. Individuals who fill positions the new company needs will be retained; those who duplicate responsibilities already being handled by the acquiring company are likely to be discharged. Other reasons to reassess your current employment may be that you feel stagnate or desire new skill sets and experiences.

Evaluate the environment. Is business good?
If you know that your company’s business has been down for a period of time and your company is closing manufacturing plants, shutting distribution centers, and in general contracting its business, management is probably looking for places to cut. Your job could be next.

What are your coworkers doing?
Pay attention to those individuals who joined the firm around the same time you did, or possibly in the same position. Are they getting promotions faster than you? Are their responsibilities different or more significant than yours? If the answer is yes, then you should realistically look at what the future holds for you at that company.

Are you stuck?
Even if your job is not in jeopardy, you may feel that you are stagnating. Often companies that are looking hard at their bottom line may not be promoting as fast or giving significant salary increases. The only way to improve your position and the money you make may be by seeking out positions at other companies and in other industries.

Be careful about being too quick to leave your current job. In these days of ongoing mergers and downsizings, the company you are considering going to work for may be a merger candidate itself. Before you take another job, investigate as best you can the new firm’s financial situation and whether there are rumors of a buyout.

When talking with a potential employer, keep the following in mind: companies are most concerned with a candidate’s core skills and how they can be applied in their industry. An employer may, in fact, be seeking people from outside its industry in order to gain new perspective and new ways to approach old problems.

Consider many different industries because casting the widest net possible will greatly improve one’s chance of success. Job seekers should realize that they can take their base skills, whether it is in accounting, information technology, project management or marketing, and apply them to any number of industries. There is no reason a marketing manager for a manufacturer of brake parts cannot shift his or her skills to become a marketing manager for an tech company or a hospital, two areas which are hiring right now.

  • Relate your specific accomplishments for each of your past employers.

Do not just write down or name a list of companies for which you have worked. You do not want to appear to be a job hopper, which could reflect negatively on your job performance.

  • Tell the employer how each experience helped you in your next job.

Employers by and large understand and accept the concept that individuals make controlled changes as stepping stones to advancement.

  • Describe/explain how your past experiences will translate well to the position for which you are interviewing.

You do not want it to appear that you have had several disjointed jobs that have nothing to do with the job responsibilities for which you are currently interviewing.

The bottom line in changing jobs or careers either by moving up your company’s hierarchy or changing companies altogether is to take control of your own destiny. Competition is doing its job. It is forcing business to become more efficient, lower costs, and produce better products. In the process, business is eliminating antiquated ways of operating, including the blueprint for career advancement. Responsibilities and divisions of duty have become blurred. Many employers are seeking contract workers. Risk-takers are at a premium. To succeed in this climate, you need to take responsibility for your own career path and ultimately your success or failure.