Pursuing a new position or career path can be difficult – especially if you made frequent changes between companies previously in your career. Many job seekers prematurely count themselves out of the position of their dreams simply because their tenure has been a bit ‘hoppy.’
Though it is important to be strategic in how you frame your background, especially in the event of these job gaps or frequent changes, there are ways to deemphasize the focus from your job history to ensure that you are able to adequately highlight your strengths.
The Down Side
When discussing one’s career history, it is important to first acknowledge that one of the initial considerations a hiring manager will make is your past employment history.
Gina Curtis, Trainer/Coach and Executive Recruiting Manager at JMJ Phillip explains: “As a job seeker your work experience will be critiqued by hiring managers which will include your tenure. Hiring managers like to see good tenure with ideal candidates being with the same company for five to seven years before making a transition. If you have changed jobs every year, even if you had great reasons, you should be aware this is something that you will be up against when applying for jobs.”
In proactively considering this, you will give yourself an opportunity to carefully craft your response to tenure-related questions during an interview, preventing appearing ill-prepared.
“You will want to be able to articulate the job changes in an interview while staying positive and not speaking poorly about any of your former employers.” Hiring managers will undoubtedly assess your history, but eloquently speaking to it will mitigate the consequences.
The Up Side
Though it is important to understand the ways your career history may appear to hiring leaders, there aresteps you can take to leverage gaps as a strength and demonstrate what you learned through the experience.
Curtis explains that when discussing your career moves “you can speak to being adaptable and flexible as a strength.”In framing these job changes as an advantage rather than a hinderance, you will further display your ability to navigate difficult situations carefully in addition to effectively picking up new skills during onboarding and training.
When responding to questions in a creative way, it is still important to remain realistic about your career history, avoiding seeming ignorant to any weaknesses or the existing jumps in your history.
Though this can be a difficult nuance to balance, carefully crafting your responses will augment the time in an interview or application process that you have to further demonstrate your strengths. It will additionally (partially) steer the conversation away from your history and toward your skillset, allowing you to take more control of the conversation.
In addition to effectively handling interview questions, there are other strategies that are worth considering to further reduce the consequences of a ‘hoppy’ tenure. One such tactic is the format of your resume.
Though chronological resumes are more common and are often the ‘norm’, a functional resume may be worth considering. A functional resume focuses more on the themes of your expertise (project management, relationship management, training and development, etc.) rather than your career history, grouping content by subject matter rather than based on each company and role.