In my 8 years of being a Sales Recruiter for small to mid-size IT companies, I’ve never successfully placed a candidate who had more than 4 jobs in 10 years. I initially tried to coach a few job-hoppers through the interview process, but it never worked out. The reason it did not work out was either the company did not trust that the employee would stay at the company or the job-hopper’s reasons for leaving all of their companies raised concerns.
Your resume is your first introduction into the hiring company and it is something of which you should be very proud. While a cover letter is nice to have, without a resume highlighting stability, career success and progression, you most likely will not get the interview.
The good news is that if you do have more than 4 jobs in the past 10 years and you are a willing to make the effort, you can turn yourself into a Sought-After Candidate by doing the following:
Step 1: Build a stable job history.
If you’ve had more than 4 jobs in 10 years, you need to think about how you can correct your resume. The easiest way is to stay at your current job until your resume shows you have had 4 jobs in 10 years.
Avoid starting up a business as a consultant in the same industry unless that is truly what you want to do. If you are just being a consultant to hide a large gap in your resume, most often, Hiring Managers will see this as someone who cannot work well with others. Additionally, Hiring Managers may not trust that this person won’t leave the company in the immediate future to start up their business again.
If you don’t currently have a job and you’ve had more than 4 job in the past 10 years, take an hour each day to study Overachievers in your field by going into LinkedIn and entering a search string such as:
(“promotion” OR “award” OR “exceeded” OR “top” OR “within budget”)
You will see that there are many profiles of Overachievers in your field. These employees are your competition for all future jobs. Notice the smart career changes these Overachievers made, how long they stayed at each job and their career progression.
Since these Overachievers have similar educational and professional backgrounds to you, use this hour as a time of reflection to determine the top three items you need to change professionally to become a Sought-After Candidate. For additional help, see How to Hire A Career Coach.
Step 2: Build references
One problem with having more than 4 jobs in 10 years is that numerous bosses are familiar with your work. With social media, it seems we are all only a couple of degrees away from each other.
If you haven’t had a great reputation with your bosses or executive staff among your numerous jobs, start over with a new mantra today that consists of the following three questions as quoted by stand-up comedian Craig Ferguson :
- “Does this need to be said?”
- “Does this need to be said now?”
- “Does this need to be said by me?”
If you are currently employed, ask yourself these three questions each time before you communicate (i.e.: responding to an email, approaching management, sharing information with peers, speaking up at a team meeting, etc.) to improve your professional reputation.
If you are not employed, asking yourself these three questions before you answer an interview question should help you to project a better image throughout the interview process.
Step 3: Determine a Career Progression Path
Showing career progression on your resume (i.e.: Inside Sales Representative to Field Sales Representative to Manager) identifies you as a person with initiative, someone a Hiring Manager would want to meet.
Resumes that show career regression, on the other hand, raise a lot of red flags from Hiring Managers and normally the candidate will not get the interview.
If you find yourself with several one-year stints or going backwards in your career (i.e.: VP down to Manager down to Individual Contributor) either you may need help choosing job opportunities (Read Should I take this job?) or you may be in the wrong field (Read Finding the Right Career).
It might also be helpful to write out a goal of what you want to be doing in 5 years and then identify the steps that will help you achieve this goal (Read Personal Goal Setting).
Once you have a career progression path in mind, your current job’s income becomes a step to achieving your goal resulting in a more positive outlook on your current employment.
Step 4: Love your job starting on Monday (or the next job you get)
Next Monday and every day after, play the role of Star Employee by focusing only on your job, giving 100% effort to your job responsibilities, and being polite, professional and courteous in all communications. This will help to keep you employed while also building up references.
Step 5: Don’t quit unless you have another offer in hand
Avoid gaps in your resume by keeping your current job until you have a job offer in hand. It is much harder to find a job when you are unemployed than it is when you are employed.
The benefits of being a Sought-After Candidate are tremendous. Hiring Managers and Recruiters will keep you aware of all current opportunities, you will be treated well by your current company and your income level will increase. While it takes patience and time to change from Job-Hopper to Sought-After Candidate, it is possible to change and if you believe you can do it, you will succeed.