While it is increasingly normal for people to have many jobs over the course of their careers, there is still a stigma attached to “job hopping.” Prospective employers may infer that you are not a loyal employee, or that you are difficult to work with. But that is not always the truth. Bryan Keppler, a passionate conservationist, had the bad luck of going from one habitat restoration company that collapsed a few months after he joined to another that failed to send his paycheck regularly. In spite of having done absolutely nothing wrong, Bryan was having a very difficult time finding a new job with these two experiences appearing front and center on his resume—and positioning him as a dreaded “job hopper.”
1.) Be Strategic With Your Dates
In Bryan’s case, one of the easiest and most basic strategies to downplay the appearance of job hopping was to remove the months from his experience dates. The original entry read:
Company 2, Toledo, OH July 2017 – Present
Company 1, Bowling Green, KY November 2016 – March 2017
The updated entry:
Company 2, Toledo, OH, 2017- Present
Company 1, Bowling Green, KY, 2016-2017
There were actually two key changes made here. The first was to push the dates together with the company name and location so as to call less attention to them. The second was to remove the months, which helps by not calling attention to the fact that he worked for both companies for less than six months. It also removes the four-month employment gap between March and July of 2017.
2.) Keep the Current Position Short and Sweet
Bryan knew very well that badmouthing his current employer on his resume would not play very well. Unfortunately, there is no way to effectively state on your resume that your employer is shady and failing to send a paycheck without casting yourself in a negative light as well. Even if it is true, it does not belong on the resume.
Instead, we crafted a short entry of no more than three lines playing up the role as a temporary position he took in order to help with several forest ecology projects.
3.) Use your Cover Letter Strategically
In Bryan’s case, we used the cover letter to address the appearance of job hopping by mentioning that while he had to relocate for family reasons from Bowling Green, Kentucky to Ohio and took a temporary position in the meantime, he is excited to take on a new challenge and become a loyal, long-term employee at a company where his passion for conservation and teamwork would add value.
4.) In Extreme Cases, Consider a Hybrid Functional/Chronological Resume
If you have spent less than a year at your last 3+ jobs or if you have several significant employment gaps on your resume, another option is to push the chronology to the end of the resume and keep the focus on relevant achievements rather than on your career chronology.
This looks similar to a standard resume, but rather than diving into the career chronology after the Career Summary or Introduction, it includes a section for relevant experience highlights. For a senior healthcare executive who wanted to downplay his employment gaps, this section took shape as follows:
Executive & Strategic Leadership Highlights
(Followed by several bulleted achievements related to his patient-retention metrics, operational leadership, budget management, and key role in implementing a new Medicaid ACO contract.)
Population Health Management & Financial Analysis Highlights
(Followed by several bulleted achievements across cost savings, patient-satisfaction scores, and Post-Acute Care process improvements.)
This information took up the entire first page and perfectly positioned him for the healthcare executive roles he was targeting. By the time the reader got the second page to see the Career Chronology and his employment gaps, they were already excited about his achievements and overall value proposition.
While no one should ever lie or be misleading on their resume (not only is it unethical, but it will almost certainly come back to haunt you) the purpose of marketing collateral is to cast your experience in the best possible light. If you are struggling with the appearance of job hopping or with employment gaps on your resume, feel free to contact us at Great Resumes Fast for help with your resume and make a new start in 2018.