News & Blogs

18 September-2019

Job Hopping! How to Navigate this Tricky Resume Topic

Almost no one stays in one job for 30 years anymore. The days of “Years of Service” plaques and pension plans are almost entirely gone. That sort of tenure is nearly unachievable. Here in 2019, the pendulum has swung the other way. Now, when recruiters are scanning resumes, and they see someone with a year or more at the last few positions, it’s time to rejoice! 

In all seriousness, the dynamics of employment have changed dramatically over the last several years. Present-day employees are more likely to have a “free agent” mentality about changing jobs and their associated personal career ascension. Meanwhile, employers seem to be more frequently tackling challenging business dynamics like acquisitions, offshoring, reorganizations, and the like. 

Where can all of this change and turmoil lead? Movement and turnover. And turnover impacts resumes. And sometimes – maybe many times – candidates are unfairly labeled “job hoppers” when resumes have what could be perceived as a few too many short-term stays on them.

Is “job hopping” a thing?

Yes. If you’ve had 10 jobs in 10 years, there’s probably a pattern and a theme there, and a potential employer is going to shoot up red flags galore. However, most of the time, there are legitimate and reasonable stories behind your more run-of-the-mill resume movement.

How can you counteract a resume that looks “job hoppy?”

Be open and honest on your resume. Answer questions with written explanations before they are asked. We all know that companies lay people off. Startups lose funding. Contract positions end abruptly. People follow their spouses’ careers. Family members in poor health need care. A dream job pops up when you least expect it. A million things can impact a career track, and the majority of them are not because someone has performance issues or cannot get along with management.

Include on your resume the reasons for movement and employment gaps. Be transparent. If a potential hiring manager encounters a resume with a smattering (or more) of shorter work periods, she or he is going to assume the worst first and ask questions later. Therefore, you should:

Add a line to experience sections where appropriate to address the reasons for turnover:

  • “Laid off due to merger.”
  • “Six-month contract position through a staffing agency.”

During a period of unemployment, format this section just as you would any other job experience, and address the reason for the gap:

  • “Personal sabbatical for family reasons.”
  • “Moved to a new city and consulted part-time.”

Without helpful explanations like these, your resume may get eliminated from consideration. In the absence of explanatory details, it’s just easier to assume someone is a “job hopper.”

Do employers “get it?”

Truth be told, the modern employment marketplace is becoming more comfortable with shorter-term stays. Aside from all of the turnover factors we’ve noted above, employees just tend to change jobs more frequently. A year here, two there, three here, six months there – that is the new normal. Resumes with those sorts of interruptions are not going to raise many eyebrows amongst savvy recruiters and hiring managers. But if you have a collection of consecutive positions where you worked less than a year, or if you have a noticeable employment gap along with a handful of brief tenures, you can very easily get labeled as a “job hopper.”

Don’t let that happen. Troubleshoot the resume first so that you actually will get a chance to tell the full story in your interview.

If you have questions about building a better resume or finding a revenue-related job in the Triangle and beyond, please contact us.