7 Resume Tips for Job Hoppers

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Not too long ago, it was common for people to work for one company for a lifetime. (The lucky ones would retire after thirty years with a gold watch and a pension. Obviously, times have changed!) That kind of commitment is difficult to imagine these days; today's workers switch jobs frequently.

And while that's totally acceptable, if your resume is dominated by short-term stints exclusively, and you have a pattern of leaving positions regularly, hiring managers may see you as a job hopper.

That's a label you want to avoid — companies generally don't like to hire job hoppers.

If you have moved from company to company frequently, staying only a short time in each job, here is how to make sure your resume looks strong, and how you can avoid the dreaded job hopper label.

Why Do Companies Want to Avoid Hiring Job Hoppers?

One thing hiring managers look for is patterns. A good pattern is someone who's been promoted at every company. Not so great? Regularly departing jobs yearly, or even more frequently. (Here are guidelines for how long employees should stay at a job.) For hiring managers, this type of a pattern indicates that a candidate won't stick around, and they'll need to re-hire for the position quickly.

That's something companies want to avoid, because hiring new employees isn't cheap. From time spent interviewing to training and onboarding, adding a new employee takes up a significant amount of time and company money.

Why go through all that effort to replace someone in six months or a year? Hiring managers are eager for candidates who have the necessary skills and background, and will stay in positions for a significant amount of time.

7 Resume Strategies to Downplay Job Hopping  

Your resume is your best opportunity to tell a story about your career — so make sure you're telling a good story, one that makes you look like a loyal, dependable candidate.

Here are some ideas for ways to have your resume deemphasize frequent job switches:

Have a strong summary statement: At the top of the page, your summary or objective is a great — and prominent — way to tell your story. You can say things like "X years of experience as a marketer" or "looking for a long-term position where I can grow" to emphasize your length of experience and desire to stay in a position for a long time.  

Don't include everything: If you worked for two years at one job, two months at the next, and then two years at the next job, it's totally acceptable — and definitely advantageous — to leave off the position where you only worked for a few months. That way, you won't have to discuss it during interviews, and hiring managers won't see the potential red flag while reviewing your resume. As well, consider omitting jobs that aren't relevant to the title you want next or positions held many years ago. (See more about leaving jobs off your resume.)

Look for opportunities to combine jobs: Did you work as a contractor for a period, employed in short-term blocks for a few different companies? Group these position together. This strategy is helpful for freelancers or folks that work in fields that have ebb and flow to the work rhythm, such as TV producers.

Make it clear when the hopping was involuntary: An employer may look upon job hoppers who leave positions for more money or a better title negatively. That's not generally true for people who leave involuntarily because of layoffs, restructuring, or a company that goes out of business.

Leave off the months: Often, resumes make dates very prominent. But it doesn't have to be that way. The eye sees what's called out — so rather than emphasizing dates by aligning them in an easily scannable column, move them to the end of the job description. Consider using the years worked only, which can make it seem as though you've had longer stints. Get more tips for formatting your resume.

Make contributions clear: One of the main concerns about job hoppers is that they leave before they make the company's investment worth it.

Hiring a new person — from interview time to background checks to training — isn't cheap. But, if you were at a job for only a year, but were able to do something transformative, play that up. You can even consider formatting your resume to include an accomplishments section; this will put the focus on your achievements, and off of the time you spent at positions.

Try a functional or hybrid resume: Probably the most commonly used resume format is chronological. But it's not the only option — you can also create a functional resume, which emphasizes your skills and accomplishments. A combination resume (also sometimes called a hybrid resume) marries the two formats, so that employment history is listed chronologically, but accomplishments and qualifications are also prominently highlighted. (Find out more about the different types of resumes candidates can create.) 

Sample Resume for a Frequent Job Changer

Check out this example of a resume that deemphasizes the candidate's frequent job shifts by grouping together a series of temp positions, explaining that one position ended when the company shuttered, and deploys objective and qualification sections. 

Derrick Burns

300 5th Avenue * Middletown, CT * 555-555-5555 * derrick@burns.me 

Objective:

To obtain a position as an administrative assistant or office manager and help shape and stabilize a company's operations.

Qualifications:

  • Strong communications and problem-solving abilities
  • 5+ years of experience in support, coordination, and scheduling for busy companies
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office, content management systems, Adobe Photoshop

Administrative and Office Manager Experience

Office Manager
ABC Company, 2015-Present

  • Oversee onboarding for new employees, including welcome lunch, training, and introduction to staff benefits.
  • Supervise administrative assistants, order supplies, and coordinate all in-office meetings and staff training sessions.

Office Manager
XYZ Company, 2015; XYZ Company went out of business in 2015

  • Organized monthly town hall meetings, including ordering food, coordinating guests and speakers, and ensuring that A/V equipment was functional.
  • Entered monthly payroll; established system for contractors to submit timesheets.
  • Designed and wrote staff newsletter, which was sent out weekly.

Administrative Assistant
Smith Company, 2014

  • Answered phones at reception desk in lobby; oversaw the meeting room schedule.
  • Primary customer-facing representative, responsible for resolving or escalating problems and concerns.

Temp Administrative Assistant
2014

Worked with various temp agencies to fill in as an administrative assistant. Had several long-term placements, including as a maternity leave fill-in. Quickly adapted to office systems, making improvements as necessary.

Other Experience

Seasonal salesperson

XYZ Clothing Store

2013-2014

Assisted customers; worked at the cash register and helped with inventory and stocking new merchandise.

Education

Boston University, B.A. in English and American literature.

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