A Series of Unfortunate Events

woman jumping between rocks for job hopping

Can job hopping hurt your chances of landing jobs in the future? Sometimes in our working lives, things just don’t work out. Maybe the job turned out to be something other than what it seemed. Sometimes there’s a personality conflict with someone that just can’t be overcome. Other times, the company switches gears at a bad time for you – making a change that means your job no longer exists.

How can job hopping hurt your chances?

From my seat, seeing a series of these kinds of jobs on a resume can be a red flag. Is it unfair, when I don’t know the circumstances? Sure, it might be. But when I’m trying to screen out as many applicants as I can to make my interviews as worthwhile as possible, it can make sense to pass over someone who – on paper – appears to have issues committing to an employer in the long-term, or who can’t hang on to any one job for long. This may be tough to hear if your resume reads like this, but it’s the truth.

The reason you need to hear that truth is this: if you don’t want to be perceived in that way, you have to get to the heart of why your jobs have been short-lived. This demands some really honest self-reflection. If the jobs ended because of a decision you made, why? Is there something you’re overlooking about your working preferences? Are you not doing enough during your job search and interviews to really assess whether the job and company are a good fit? Personality assessments can be a very helpful tool in this period of reflection. If the companies ended your employment, why? Are you misrepresenting your background and experience when you’re applying to jobs? Are there personality characteristics that come out after the ‘honeymoon period’ is over, which are creating issues for you in the workplace?

I cannot stress this enough: whatever you can control or influence to change this trend, do it. The only way to ‘fix’ having a string of short-term jobs on your resume is to understand why it’s happening, change what you can, and stay at a job for a longer time.

Addressing job hopping in an interview

This brings me to the interview. If you’re sitting across from me with a resume like this, it means that your job-hopping isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but know that I’m probably still wary. There are several things I need to hear when we’re talking about your work history.

The first, of course, is the facts about what happened in each case. I’ll remind you again here that lying – either outright, or by hiding part of the truth – is never okay in an interview. That said, you also need to avoid blaming former employers – the companies or the people. You can let me know that you had a personality conflict with someone that couldn’t be resolved, without calling them names. You can tell me that the company had to make the decision after only a short time to eliminate your job, while sounding more disappointed than resentful.

The second thing I want to hear is that you’ve learned something along the way. This is the other reason why self-reflection is so important. If you’ve just made some errors along the way, misjudging a job or a company, tell me what they were so we can make sure that you’re not making another one now. If you’ve realized that a certain kind of workplace, or a certain kind of work, isn’t really right for you, tell me what and why. This shows me that you’re self-aware, and that you really want to commit to your next employer. It also means that you could be an even better fit for the job I’m trying to fill, as long as it’s not the kind of job you’re now trying to avoid.

If you’ve had a series of short-term jobs, you can’t undo what’s already been done. But you can start today on the path to landing your next job, and being happy and successful there for a good long time.



Photo by Sammie Chaffin on Unsplash