It is tough to tell these days whether “job hopping” is a good or bad thing. Some say it’s a sign of indecision or a flaky employee. Others point to a generation of workers that want more opportunity and satisfaction in their careers.
Last weekend, Sam Gagner, an NHL player was traded twice – in one day – from the Edmonton Oilers to the Tampa Bay Lightning, and then to the Phoenix Coyotes.
During an interview, actress Patricia Heaton described the “survival jobs” that she held while she was starting out as an actress. These positions offered her the opportunity to audition and take acting classes, building the foundation of her career.
Could Gagner and Heaton be considered “job hoppers?”
Should candidates looking for a new, different, better job opportunity be blamed? A recent article in Forbes stated that the average raise an employee can expect in 2014 is 3%. However, if an employee leaves a company, they can look forward to a 10-20% increase in salary. Some have even seen a 50% increase.
What other factors could attribute to a resume that at a glance looks as if it belongs to a “job hopper?”
- A logical shift: not just financial, but location, environment, a step up in your career.
- A layoff: budget cuts, mergers, your employer relocated.
- Jobs during college: lining up temporary employment, or a job that will work with a class schedule.
- The industry: in some industries, it is common place – IT (42%), Leisure/Hospitality (41%), Transportation (37%), Retail (36%), and Manufacturing (32%).
If your resume is populated by different jobs, and you run into a hiring manager who is stuck in the “job hopping is bad” point of view, what can you do?
- Be able to explain – and be honest.
- Frame the conversation in your favor: you weren’t ‘bored’, you were looking for a challenge. List your accomplishments the experience you gained. Was it time to take the next step in your career?
- If you’ve had a lot of similar short-term gigs, list them under one heading, especially if you’ve worked as a contractor. Each position can be listed as a bullet point under that heading with only the most crucial points or accomplishments in each role.
- Keep irrelevant work off your resume. So you had a “survival job” while you were looking for a position in your field after a layoff or just after you graduated? That bill-paying job doesn’t define your career, leave it off.
- Have a great cover letter, and demonstrate your interest in securing a long-term position. Yes, easier said than done, but be able to sell who you are and what you have to offer. Illustrate how your previous work experiences fit within the job description and make you a desirable candidate.
There’s no magic pill or definitive answer. But maybe it’s time to retire the term and mentality associated with “job hopping” and look at the candidate and their body of experience – no matter where it was gained.