How to Compensate for Job Hopping with the Right Resume


Job hopping has often gotten a bad rap. But recent economic and social trends indicate that job-hopping is not going away. You need to know how to improve your resume to overcome concerns.

The average tenure for a job has been getting shorter and shorter. Last year, employees quit their jobs with more frequency than ever before, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The BLS started calculating the so-called “quits rate” in 2000 and this rate has been steadily increasing. Millennials are the group most likely to leave a job voluntarily and many depart within the first 12 months of getting hired.

Money is often the reason that employees leave their job sooner and their resulting increase in salaries in a new job provides evidence that this decision can make sense.

Nevertheless, frequent moves from job to job do make hiring managers nervous. If you’re hired, with all the training and recruitment expenses that entails, will you stick? As a job seeker there are actions you can take to allay concerns. Here’s how:

  • If you had a short-term position that does nothing to improve your resume, here’s the good news: You don’t have to include it. You may not be able to omit a long-term position because it can turn into a troublesome gap, but, while you shouldn’t lie about it, your resume is not a sworn statement of every job you’ve ever held.

Application forms are a different matter, since some require you to list every one of those jobs, but a resume is a marketing piece, not an affidavit. You’re entitled to omit irrelevancies.

  • If you’ve held the same position with numerous employers, you may be able to organize your resume according to your continuing role: Chief Tiger-Groomer, Bronx Zoo, San Diego Zoo, and Columbus Zoo, 2008–2012.
  • You can use that same approach if you’ve been freelancing and working on short-term projects in one field. Focus on the job description, not the “employers,” and list multiple representative clients within a consolidated time period. Each client does not need individual dates, especially if, like many freelancers, you work for repeat customers in spurts, with time off between discrete projects for a given client.
  • Use your cover letter to explain diplomatically the (reasonable and very understandable) circumstances that led you to change jobs relatively quickly.

Don’t, however, base your explanation on a litany of your employers’ faults. Bad-mouthing and negativity never go over well, regardless of how bad things were. Stay positive. Emphasize your skills and accomplishments as you do on your resume.

If you need an experienced resume writer and career coach to help you advance to the next level, I can help you craft a game plan and a resume to get you to your goal.


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