Job hopping used to be a huge red flag for hiring managers. While it’s still a big issue, it’s not uncommon to have several jobs lasting only a year or two, especially in this weak economy.
Contributors to Job Hopping
The job market’s evolved. Decades ago, companies offered career-long job security. However, as we transitioned from manufacturing to service-oriented industries, job requirements changed and retraining became a factor in maintaining employment (similar to today’s technology evolution).
With the late ‘90s dot-com surge, startups scrambled to hire the best and brightest from established firms. Buoyed by having an upper hand in the job market, workers with stable employment jumped at big salary offers. Job-hopping became the ‘thing to do’ taking ever-better offers and moving on.
Similar to the dot-com crash, layoffs skyrocketed during the Great Recession; people relied on unemployment benefits while looking for the ‘right jobs’. Only the jobs weren’t coming. People started taking positions outside of their fields of expertise.
There’s a point to this job-landscape history. Job hopping happens, and interviewers know this. But, it really does help your chances of landing interviews if you craft your resume to minimize short-term gigs and job gaps.
Use the Time Between Jobs Wisely
If you’re unemployed, fill that job gap with professional-development activities to include in your resume.
Do some industry-related volunteering, join local networking groups, and/or take some continuing education courses. There are many free web course/certificate program sources, including Open Culture and Kutztown University Small Business Development Center.
If you’ve run a small business, become a mentor or seek guidance from other professionals. The Small Business Administration, for example, has several mentor/mentee programs.
Omit What You Can
Look at your resume. You should only use years to explain employment history (e.g., 2008–Present). If you’ve had short-term jobs, simply omit some (especially positions you may have taken to put food on the table vs. career-related jobs). This helps tremendously when ‘hiding’ job hopping.
Eliminate Older Jobs
A resume should only go back about 10 years, 15 years maximum. Eliminating older positions may help with the job-hopping perception. For example, don’t include internships if you have more than seven years of professional experience (unless you’re in a medical or similar field).
The caveat: If long-ago entry-level positions were all with the same company, you want to show progression up the career ladder.
Group Contract Jobs/Projects
If you’re a freelancer, or work contract positions (common for IT, project managers, etc.), lump these together under one job title within your full-time job history. For example, if you work for yourself periodically (in between part- or full-time jobs for employers), when listing employment, group jobs from the earliest contract/project-work date to the most current.
Freelance Writer, 2006–Present
Develop content for multiple small business websites, brochures and other marketing materials. Clients include ABC Company, XYZ Agency, and THY Firm Name.
ABC COMPANY, 2007–2011
Bullet points about your achievements…
Do you see how lumping freelance work together eliminated the 2011–Present gap in full-time work for an employer?
For temp-agency project work, name the agency as the employer (under which you detail related projects/assignments). This shows your longevity with the agency, versus having a zillion projects on your resume.
Create a Combination Resume
If none of the previous methods are possible, camouflage job hopping by using the combination format: a resume that is part functional and part reverse-chronological. You would group your skills, knowledge, and expertise in a functional manner above your professional experience. Then, you would list your professional experience in a reverse chronological order. You can divide it into two sections—“Related Experience” and “Other Experience”. This format tends to minimize job hopping by showcasing your skills rather than your chronological work history.