A job candidate recently expressed concerns about the way his employment history looked to employers. After 15 years of experience with five different employers — two of them being in the last three years — he wondered if his past was a stumbling block towards his future.
Yet every circumstance involved a layoff, something beyond his control, but when interviewers inquired about multiple employers, he went on the defensive sending a perception that something was wrong.
When you have a work history full of multiple jobs in a short time frame, you can develop a mindset that every employment opportunity is one based on luck. That’s the attitude he was forming, comparing his situation to those who seem to have a stable work history and doubting his employability. The trap of doubt often leads to self-defeating hurdles.
When you have a good job search strategy, you’ll recognize that luck is often created by your approach and tenacity. In today’s job market it’s not unusual to have multiple employers with various lengths of employment regardless of your title or experience.
Decision makers have experienced the same ups and downs of their career and understand that some things are out of your control, but when you have a consistent history of numerous turnovers it does give hiring managers a pause for a second look.
Having a background of multiple jobs is not the career staller that it could have been in the past, but not having plan to address them can be. One way to approach talking about job changes is to take an offensive stance and address the perception by stating the obvious.
Acknowledging your employment history of short-term stays helps the interviewer address sensitive concerns and squelch negative perceptions.
Even though layoffs can be tiresome and take their toll emotionally from a job search perspective, they are easier to explain than being terminated for cause. If you were laid off as part of a department downsizing, consider adding context by stating your department was affected.
The greatest fear surrounding a hiring decision maker is choosing the wrong hire. Keep in mind, that positive answers to questions in a non-defensive way opens the door for rapport building.
Another strategy to consider is how your information is formatted on your resume: A chronological resume is more apt to point out dates of employment. You might experiment with a different layout such as a functional format that emphasis skills first while adding your employment history last.
Regardless of the format you choose, always make sure your resume reflects your value and contributions. Your ability to market your skills through strong accomplishments and key words can be a factor in the hiring process.
Employers most likely will receive resumes that resemble one another, and if your employment history is just a listing of employers, titles and responsibilities without defining your contributions you could be sending the wrong message.
In moving your career forward, keep in mind what you learned from each employment situation, especially when deciding to accept an offer. It’s not uncommon to grow weary in conducting a job search and can be tempting to accept the first job offer to end your fatigue.
Asking thoughtful questions during the interview process can also help you make a good decision regarding a long-term career path.
At this point in the job candidate’s career, staying with one employer for several years would help break a cycle of turnover and would be to his advantage.
How have you address a multiple job work history? Do you think it’s a barrier in a job search?