It used to be, long ago, that being employed at one company for the majority, if not all, of your career was the norm. Well, not anymore. What was once the standard is now almost unheard of. Very rarely does someone retire from the first company that hired them. More often, the first job is a stepping stone into a career, the doorway to bigger and better things, if you will.
The tendency to hold several different positions throughout your career has never been truer than during the recent economic crisis. Even if you subscribed to long term company loyalty you may have been the victim of job loss due to company closures or downsizing. This has forced many job seekers to move from one position to another and sometimes another. Don’t despair, you’re not alone.
With more and more job seekers having short term employment, holding numerous positions, or having job gaps on their resume, hiring managers have been forced to rethink their views on applicants that would have once been viewed as job hoppers. Several jobs in a short period of time use to be viewed as a red flag, but with this being the case for more job seekers, it has become less of a negative attribute.
Hiring managers have become more understanding of applicants who have held numerous positions. The mentality of job loyalty has changed dramatically over the years and was compounded even more by the record high unemployment of late. Many job seekers will take a job knowing they are only doing so until they find a better position. I mean, let’s be honest, if you need to pay the bills you aren’t going to be concerned about how this position or others will look on your resume. Be prepared however to discuss the reasons for leaving a position. Potential employers want to know that your departure was for a legitimate reason.
Serial job hoppers are another matter entirely. If you find yourself moving from job to job by choice rather than force you may have a more difficult time making yourself appealing to hiring managers. Regardless of widespread acceptance of multiple jobs on a resume, companies still like the idea of loyal employees. They will not want to invest their time and effort on an employee that won’t even be there for the short-haul. If your natural tendency is to seek out change then you may want to consider temporary employment or a staffing agency in order to fulfill your need for frequent change.
If you have too many jobs on your resume because you are including every position you’ve ever held for the last thirty years there is an easy fix. Eliminate your earliest positions. Anyone reading your resume is not going to be concerned with what you did 20 or more years ago. They will want to know what you can do now. Instead of taking up space on your resume with your old positions use that space to market yourself.
Don’t be tempted to hide positions or be dishonest in any way to make it appear as if you haven’t held as many positions as you have. There are certain things you can do to minimize the fact that you’ve held several positions. One thing you can do is use a functional resume format to highlight your experience without tying it to a specific position. Another thing you can do is highlight the positions you’ve held that best align with the position you are applying for and then have a separate section for other positions you’ve held.
When you are in an interview, be honest about the reasons why you left your past positions. You can be assured that you are not the only one in that situation. Hiring managers are more receptive and the best thing you can do is be confident and show a potential employer that you are looking for a position in which you can devote yourself to for the long haul.
by Megan Koehler