Millennials and job hopping: two words that are beginning to form a natural association in a lot of people’s minds. Data from LinkedIn supports it, so it’s no wonder.
Even though we’ve written about the benefit of job hopping, ahem, career building, we know hiring managers make assumptions when they’re sitting across from a person who’s moved around a lot.
While the reason for leaving your company every few years can be absolutely valid—a big career advancement and a healthy bump in salary to boot—there are plenty of not-so-respected explanations as well. Whatever your reasons for moving from position to position, it’s essential that you be aware of the many things going through a hiring manager’s mind as she scans your resume.
Because if you’re equipped with this understanding in advance, you’ll not only be better able to face a skeptical interviewer, but also know just how to communicate the benefits of your choice more clearly.
1. The Hiring Manager Will Think You Have Commitment Issues
If the hiring manager is a Millennial, then he or she is likely to view your multiple-jobs-since-graduation four years ago as no big deal, but if the person looking at your resume has remained at one company for several years, she might find it challenging to comprehend how a person like you can possibly be relied on. She might be reluctant to bring you on board for fear you’ll just jump ship as soon as the next best thing pops up.
Focus on the Fact That You’re Adaptable
Starting a new job is never easy. There are systems to learn, names to remember, documents to absorb—it’s a lot to take in when you begin anew. A work history that indicates you’ve been around the block in a particular industry or even a range of industries suggests that you know how to adapt quickly. It says you’re a fast learner without you having to describe yourself in that tired fashion. Make sure to get that across.
Say: “When I jumped from Company A to Company B, I had to re-learn an entirely new database system. So, I set aside time during my first week to really get to know it from the inside-out. Then, when I moved again last year, anticipating my entire first week doing nothing but learning the unfamiliar system, I decided to take an online course to prepare and give myself a jump start.”
2. The Hiring Manager Will Think You Have No Patience
No position’s perfect. Experienced professionals know this and accept it. Unless the environment is toxic, sticking it out for at least a year is standard, even for the serial hopper. So, if your resume shows a lot of positions at a variety of organizations in not a lot of time, your patience may be questioned. No one wants to bring someone in who can’t roll with the changing workplace, who updates his LinkedIn profile each time a new policy is implemented or alternate software put into place.
Focus on the Fact That You Thrive When You’re Challenged
Staying in one job and only one job without a lot of upward movement may suggest that you’re complacent and lack ambition. Seeking out fresh opportunities, on the other hand, by refusing to stay in any one role or at any single company where things are comfortable and familiar but not the least bit challenging, says you’re a go-getter who knows what you want and how to get it. You know your worth and why you’re an asset and you won’t be happy unless you’re going after what you want.
Say: “I’ve generally found that I work best when I’m consistently challenged, in a role where there’s no chance I'll fall into a comfort zone. I’m currently looking for a position that not only provides a lot of difficult tasks in the beginning, but also one that will continue to be met with increasing job responsibilities and big problems to solve.”
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3. The Hiring Manager Will Think You Have Trouble Getting Along With People
You may have had perfectly valid reasons for three different jobs in as many years, but even with a credible story, it’s entirely possible that the person interviewing you may be skeptical about your multiple moves. He may wonder if you have an issue with management, if you have difficulty working well with others, even if you’re a reliable, hard-working person. If you’re lucky enough to get to the reference part of the process, great, but if not, you might find yourself struggling to explain your work history.
Focus on the Fact You’re Looking for Fulfilling Work
There’s a big difference between demonstrating patience and refusing to settle. If you’ve had the experience of working in an environment where you were promised greater responsibility, a raise, or a promotion, but nothing was ever delivered, then what choice did you have but to seek better opportunities elsewhere? Maybe your organization’s parental-leave policy was sub-standard or it didn’t understand the meaning of work-life balance. If you find greener pastures that offered you what you were looking for, good for you for seeking something more fulfilling. Now you just want to make sure that the person you’re speaking with gets that message.
Say: “Unfortunately, at my last job, due to some structural changes, the positon that I’d been working toward morphed into one that no longer matched my skill set and goals. While I really liked what I was doing and am in touch with several of my former colleagues, I felt that, in order to grow and keep learning, my best option was to find a new challenge that aligned more with my values.”
It’s just as important to be able to effectively explain your job-hopping tendencies as it is to discuss your loyalty to a single company. Either position’s acceptable. It’s up to you to know how to spin it so it works for your next career move.
Photo courtesy of Tom Merton/Getty Images
Stacey Lastoe is the Senior Editor/Writer of The Muse. She started writing short stories in the second grade and is immensely grateful to have the opportunity to write and edit professionally. Her work has appeared in YouBeauty, Refinery29, A Practical Wedding, Runner's World online, and The Billfold among other publications. She enjoys running and eating in equal measure and lives with her husband and dog in Brooklyn. All three of them are avid New York Mets fans. Say hello on @stacespeaks.More from this Author