For older generations, it was not uncommon to stay with the same company for 20 years or more. Employees found a career and company they liked and stuck with it. However, nowadays, it’s more common for employees to change jobs after just a few years. Job hopping used to be seen as a black mark on your resume showing that you may not be a reliable employee or are someone who is always looking for their next opportunity.
While this is still true to some extent, a lot of things have changed over the years. Recession, a fluctuating job market, improvements in automation and advanced technology, and more can all contribute to people switching jobs. It’s not always by choice either. Layoffs, reduction in force, reorganization, mergers and acquisitions, and business closings also play a big role. Employers understand the job market in their respective vertical and how this affects job seekers. Some industries have faced greater challenges than others. So while it’s still not a great idea to be changing jobs every year (or more often), having a few switches isn’t necessarily going to drop your resume into the ‘no’ pile immediately.
Here are a few ways you can support your candidacy and downplay job hopping:
- Focus on your contributions and results in each position. You may have only been there for two years, but demonstrate how you made a difference in the organization. Metrics are key if you have them.
- Show a progression in your career. Hopefully all of your moves were not lateral. Highlight increased responsibility and challenges you took on with each new role. Also, if you were recruited for a specific position, this can be good to mention as well as it shows that your skills and achievements made you a desirable candidate.
- Include locations with each company, especially if you were moving due to relocation. It doesn’t look as odd to switch jobs if you went from living in Philadelphia to living in Houston.
- If you were working a contract job, say so. Perhaps the position was only meant to last a year or two, therefore you had to find a different job or signed on with another company.
- Use your cover letter to provide more details if necessary and to really emphasize your strengths and interest in the position you are applying for.
- Leave off positions that you only held for a few months and focus on those where you were able to make positive contributions.
- Be prepared to answer questions regarding your job hopping or short-term employment stints in an interview. Be honest with an employer but also focus on the benefits of switching jobs and how it prepared you to settle down with this company. (Maybe you moved to be closer to family and now you’re here and ready to establish a solid career.)
Keep your attention on the positives and never talk badly about a previous employer even if it was the worst job you’ve ever had. Promote what you learned from it and the accomplishments you achieved and move on.