Anemone123 / Pixabay

In years past, it was not unusual for a person to spend their whole career at one or two companies. Families settled in one area and that is where they stayed. Employees climbed their way through the ranks. While employees today are also moving up the corporate ladder, they’re doing so with different companies. People change jobs for all kinds of reasons – a step up in management, better hours or benefits, a pay raise, relocation, layoffs, career change, the list goes on.

“Job hopping,” or switching from one job to the next in a short period of time, is often regarded as a red flag. It can make candidates seem like a risky investment. Hiring and training is not cheap; it takes time and resources. Employers want to know that their investment will pay off and the person won’t be bowing out a few months later. If your career is littered with short-term stints, you may worry that a hiring manager will pass you by. Here are a few ways to downplay transitions and highlight your potential:

Be selective. If you only held a job for a few months and didn’t achieve much of note, consider leaving it off of your resume. Focus on positions you held for at least a year or those where you made the strongest contributions. That six-month stint as a server doesn’t add much to your candidacy as an IT specialist aside from customer service.

Be strategic. Think about how you lay out your resume. Putting dates along the left-hand side automatically draws more attention to them. Place dates along the right-hand side or at the end of the company name or job title. Also, consider listing jobs only by year instead of month and year. This can help your job history to look more cohesive and smooth over short gaps in employment.

Choose words carefully. While there shouldn’t be a line on your resume stating why you left each position, you can convey this through how you present the content. For instance, saying you were recruited for a role shows that another company was actively seeking you for your talents. If the position was a contract or consulting role, say so; employers know that these types of gigs aren’t typically meant to be long-term. In your summary, mention that you have “6+ years of experience” in your field to highlight the bigger picture rather than the fact that those 6 years were at a few companies.

Note changes in the company. When a company goes through a merger or acquisition, this can make it appear as though you’ve jumped from one organization to the next. Note next to the company name that was “formerly ABC company” or “acquired by XYZ company.” This shows that you didn’t necessarily change jobs or employers, but that the company changed.

Show your contribution. Instead of focusing on the fact that you weren’t there long, or that you hated the job, highlight the impact you had while you were there. What did you achieve? What projects did you put in motion? How did you help the company to keep moving forward or running efficiently?

Leverage your cover letter. Use your cover letter to bring more personality and punch to your application. Demonstrate why you would be a great addition to the team and what you bring to the table. Drive home key reasons why you are worth the company’s time and investment.

Don’t let a shaky career history keep you from landing a new job. It’s all about how you present yourself and your abilities.