Changing jobs too often can get you labeled as a “job hopper.” When potential employers scan a resume that tells a story of frequent moves from job to job, it can eliminate that applicant quickly. Why? Because jumping around tells an employer you aren’t willing to commit, and if they are going to invest in onboarding and training you, they will be expecting you to stick around for the long haul. Worse yet, hiring managers could conclude you are a poor worker and companies didn’t want to keep you around very long.
Whatever the reason for your job hopping, employers rarely look upon it favorably. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to explain why you’ve had so many short-term stays. There are some techniques for drawing a hiring manager’s attention away from your overactive employment history and refocusing it on your strengths. Use these tips to explain your job hopping in an interview.
Switch to a Functional Resume
If you don’t want to call attention to your frequent job changes, change the format of your resume. A functional resume focuses on your skills and experience, instead of on your chronological work history. It is typically used by job seekers who have gaps in their job history or whose work history indicates many short-term jobs.
With this format, specific skills and achievements are emphasized to highlight the job seeker’s abilities. This changes the focus from job titles and the amount of time at each employer to the actual skills that will benefit the company.
Be Honest During the Interview
When you draw attention to your abilities, and away from your job history, you are not lying or hiding information. You’re only changing the focus. If the interviewer asks about your many job changes, be honest, tactful, and transparent. If you get caught lying, there is no doubt you will be eliminated from consideration.
If you left a job through no fault of yours — the company downsized, when out of business, or moved overseas — that’s easy to explain. If the decision to leave was yours, tell them you didn’t feel you were the right fit, there was no room for growth, or whatever the reason happened to be. Don’t be defensive or attempt to blame others. Just be truthful.
Bring the Interview Back to Your Professional Development and Skills
It’s important you explain why you left a job, but make it short and concise. Steer the conversation back to your abilities as quickly as possible. If you left because your skills weren’t utilized fully, describe those skills and how you would use them to help their company. Talk about the skills and experience you gained from working with other organizations and how they will benefit the next company that hires you. Focus on the value you will bring.
Assure the Interviewer You Intend to Stay
Let the hiring manager know you are serious about finding long-term employment and give several reasons you believe their company is a good fit. Your job history may have scared them, so you will need to be sincere to convince them you are committed.
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