"Job Hopping” – Are you making yourself unemployable?

06 May 2020 Michelle Alchian

Rr Job Hopping

With over a decade’s experience in reviewing job applications and shortlisting candidates, “job hopping” or too many short employment stints would have to be in my top 3 reasons to reject a CV.

We are about to enter an extremely competitive employment environment and with the increased number of applications we are receiving at the moment, a candidate showing a stable employment history will quickly rise to the top of our short list.

Whilst “job-hopping”, generally defined as spending less that 18 months in a position, might be your pathway to earning more in the short term, you may be adversely affecting your employability in the future. A stable employment history is highly prized by employers so “job-hopping” can represent a false economy.

I recently asked 5 clients I work closely with what their perception was around “job hopping” and the top responses were that it demonstrates:

  1. A lack passion for or commitment to the work
  2. A lack of loyalty to a company
  3. Unrealistic expectations (either financially or environmentally)
  4. You are an average employee companies don’t wish to retain

The fact is, employers spend a lot of time and money recruiting and if your CV indicates you are unlikely to stay for more than 18 months then they will want to keep looking for someone more stable.

Now, I am not suggesting you should stay in a job forever, especially if you are working within a toxic culture. I am suggesting that when you do make the decision to move, that decision should be a considered one which aligns with your passions and long-term career strategy vs one that only aligns with short-term gains.Some things to think about…

  1. Does the role align with my long-term career plans?
  2. Is this a career advancement or just a move around?
  3. What are the benefits of making the move? Does the role expose you to new technology? Help you expand your skillset? Increase your value?
  4. Is the opportunity something you can progress into with your current company?

If you have legitimate reasons to move after only a short time in a given role, here are some tips to avoid the stigma of being a job-hopper”:

  • Remember that recruiters spend on average about 1 minute reviewing your cv and will make a speedy assessment of your employment history, so don’t waffle.
  • Outline your areas of expertise and qualifications in the first 25% of your CV.
  • Incorporate a killer cover letter acknowledging any “elephants in the room”. 
  • If you have referees who will vouch for you, include these.
  • Take advantage of an interview. Explain the reasons for any past moves; explain any time-gaps in your employment history; highlight skills you developed and outline any quantifiable outcomes achieved along the way; and remember to always be honest and transparent. Recruiters can tell if you are embellishing.

Overall try to think strategically about your career progression. Only move when it is beneficial to do so and choose carefully where you work so as to ensure a good alignment with your employer and improve the likelihood of longevity in the role.