Guest post by Ida Pettersson, Career Coach & Resume Expert at Resume Genius.
Job hopping has become an increasingly common phenomenon, particularly among young professionals. For many, it’s seen as a means to grow and level up, especially when internal opportunities are limited within their current company.
While job hopping can be considered a red flag by some employers, it doesn’t have to be a roadblock to advancing your career.
In this blog post, we will guide you through the process of reshaping your career narrative step-by-step. By the end of this guide, you’ll be equipped with the tools and strategies to showcase your adaptability, skills, and achievements, ultimately turning your job hopping into a valuable asset.
Choose the right resume format
Picking the right resume format is key to drawing hiring managers’ attention to your qualifications instead of your job hopping.
A chronological resume format is most likely going to be the best choice for you. It’s the format employers are most used to seeing, and it effectively emphasizes your relevant work experience, which is most job seekers’ most compelling selling point.
If your job changes are relatively few, go for the chronological format. If you’ve held several short-term positions but they show clear career progression and professional growth, a chronological resume is also the best option. In this case, job hopping can be a sign that you’re both ambitious and competent, having allowed you to take several steps in your career within a short period of time.
An added benefit of choosing a chronological resume is that most of the downloadable resume templates available online use a chronological format, so you won’t have to worry as much about formatting your resume correctly.
If you don’t think a chronological resume suits you and your professional background, another option is to write a functional resume. A functional resume can be a good option if you’ve had unrelated jobs in different industries because it places your skills front-and-center.
Group together your most relevant skills by skill type and place them where your work experience section would normally go, just below your resume introduction.
Leave out exact dates
If you’ve switched jobs often, chances are you have multiple employment gaps on your resume. Employment gaps are another resume red flag employers look for, but fortunately, they can often be disguised.
If your work history contains several shorter employment gaps, simply leave out exact dates on your resume. You should still include the year, but don’t add the month.
Omitting months will help reduce the visibility of the gaps in your resume and shift the focus of your resume away from the duration of each job and toward your skills and accomplishments. This is useful when your job history has a lot of short-term positions and you want to emphasize your capabilities rather than your work history.
It’s unlikely that employers will ask you in an interview why you haven’t included exact dates on your resume, but if they do, be honest about it. Say that you wanted to draw their attention to the reasons why you’re a qualified candidate, and reiterate that you’re committed to the job and that this company is where you want to be.
Remove positions you’ve only held for a few months
Removing short-term jobs from your resume to downplay your job hopping history is a strategy that can be effective under certain circumstances, but it needs to be done thoughtfully.
Consider removing a position if:
- You’re left with a gap of less than 6 months on your resume – Most employers consider employment gaps of six months or less to be acceptable, so it likely won’t raise any concerns
- It doesn’t align with your long-term career goals – If the position doesn’t contribute significantly to your future plans, it may be a candidate for removal.
- You don’t have any particularly notable achievements from your time at the company – If there are valuable achievements, it might be worth keeping the entry even if you only held the job for a short period of time.
- You have other similar roles on your resume – Removing redundant entries can enhance the clarity and focus of your resume.
However, exercise discretion when removing positions. If you had a very short-term role with a well-known company, it might still be worth including.
Write a compelling resume summary
Your summary is a part of your resume that shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s your first chance to convince hiring managers to hire you, which is why it should include your most impressive qualifications and achievements.
And as someone with a job hopping background it’s even more important to make a positive first impression, so it’s worth spending a few extra minutes perfecting your resume summary.
Take a look at the job posting to identify the qualities, education, or experience each employer values most. Then, write a tailored resume introduction for each application you submit. This way you’re best able to present yourself as the ideal candidate for every role you apply for.
It can also be helpful to address your job hopping head-on, as it gives you the chance to frame it positively.
If you decide to go down this route, add a brief sentence to your resume introduction that says something along the lines of “I’m excited to leverage my diverse professional experiences and the unique perspective and strong ability to adapt to new changes they have given me to benefit your company.”
Another option is to mention your career aspirations. Specifically, talk about how the role you’re applying for aligns with your goals. This way, employers will see that you’ve thought about your career progression and that this job fits into your plan, instead of being just another short-term gig.
Focus on relevant skills you’ve picked up at each job
One of the concerns employers have when it comes to candidates with a history of job hopping is that they have no clear idea of where their career is heading. If you can’t create a coherent narrative and convince them that every job you’ve held has taught you something that you can apply in your new role, you’re much less likely to be offered the job.
So, to weave your story together, start by making a list of skills you developed at your previous jobs. Then, cross out any that won’t be valuable to your new employer.
For example, food and beverage knowledge gained from working in a restaurant won’t help you if your new job is in education. But, if you have a knack for handling different types of people due to experience serving customers, it could give you an edge over other applicants.
Try to include a variety of skills as well instead of repeating the same ones for every job on your resume. This will show employers that you’re a well-rounded candidate with a wealth of expertise that will allow you to contribute to the success of their business.
Group together short-term freelance work
Freelance work is a type of job hopping, but it won’t necessarily reflect poorly on you. You just need to know how to include it correctly on your resume.
Instead of listing each job one after the other in chronological order, group your freelance work together under a single listing. This approach not only streamlines your resume but also minimizes the impression of frequent job changes.
For instance, if you’ve undertaken freelance writing for multiple different employers, you can create a single entry with the title “Freelance Writer.” Then, use bullet points to describe the type of work you performed for your various clients, just like you would for any other job.
Additionally, if you’ve had the opportunity to work with well-known publications or organizations, be sure to mention them by name.
Explain your job hopping in your cover letter
Because of how it’s structured, a resume doesn’t leave much room for explaining your job hopping. A cover letter, on the other hand, provides an opportunity to alleviate any concerns potential employers might have regarding your work history.
When done effectively, using your cover letter to mitigate employers’ concerns can help you explain that your career moves are actually an advantage, not a drawback.
Emphasize how each job change contributed to your personal and professional growth, describing how each job provided you with valuable skills, experiences, and perspectives that have made you a stronger candidate.
Don’t forget to also highlight specific relevant accomplishments you achieved. This signals to employers that you’re goal-oriented and able to see projects through to the end.
By drawing a clear connection between your past experiences and the role advertised, you’re giving employers a better understanding of why your unique background is an asset. Additionally, it shows that you’ve seriously thought about why you’re applying to this specific position, making it less likely that you’ll leave after just a few months.
To close your cover letter, connect your skills and experiences with one of the company’s goals or challenges. This will leave hiring managers interested in finding out more about how you, with your unique background, can contribute to the success of their company.
Ida Pettersson is a Career Coach and Resume Expert at Resume Genius. Committed to empowering job seekers of all experience levels to take the next step in their careers, Ida helps professionals navigate the job hunt from start to finish. After graduating from New College of Florida with a B.A. in Philosophy and Chinese Language and Culture, Ida moved to Hong Kong to begin her own career journey and finally settled in Taiwan.
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