Job-Hopping to Success

A term that I find to be equal parts degrading & misleading, and which is created by assumption and causes undue speculation, is “job-hopping”.

A person glancing at my resume could easily say, “This person is a job hopper,” & dismiss my candidacy altogether. But without even providing further insight into my own personal experience, let me explain my perspective on the term “job-hopper.”

First and foremost, a one- to two-page resume is not enough room to really even convey the job responsibilities carried out in each given position. However, within that limited space, each applicant has to find a way to best represent both themselves as an employee, as well as an adequate description of their job experience.

Aside from the fact that it’s increasingly difficult to really convey one’s entire breadth of responsibilities, the fact that a person’s tenure was short does not mean that they did not perform or learn a substantial amount in that role. Especially when it concerns people who work hard, learn quickly, and persistently grow both personally and professionally, it’s hard for anyone to put a limit on the growth a person can undergo and the experience a person can gain in a given time frame.

From what I’ve found, a person is considered to be a job-hopper if their tenure at a job is less than two years. Amongst many other things, I don’t necessarily believe in judging people based on black-and-white facts. I think that a wiser approach is to try to truly understand a person. That being said, knowing the number and extent of things that can happen in this life in just a week, and a month, and a year, a two-year time frame of a person’s life can pass quickly or extremely slowly.

There is no way to know what has occurred throughout the course of a person’s career timeline to cause the changes in their occupancy or industry.

  • What things happened in their personal life that may have affected their career or decisions? Family? School? Illness? Tragedy?
  • What happened on a real level at their previous job(s) that may have led to a change in company or industry?
  • Should an employee who is miserable at work force themselves to stay there for the sole reason that longevity looks good on a resume?
  • What if the company was run extremely poorly, or the management or working conditions were severely flawed?

Before the unpredictable nature of life and the workforce even come into play, how often does a person immediately know what it is that they want to do in their professional career? How are we supposed to figure that out without having different experiences?

  • Many companies require X years of experience before they’ll even interview you for a position. Sometimes you meet the requirements and aren’t even considered, without ever knowing why. What if a person thinks they’re suited for a career path, then work their way up from the bottom of the totem pole, as is required, only to find something they’re better at or more passionate about?
  • Students are not adequately introduced to the various fields/industries that they can work in before they graduate high school, let alone the specific job routes they can take. Even college students aren’t prepared in this real-world application that they are supposedly being trained for! For “ASSUMED job-hopping” to be so detrimental to a person’s consideration for a position, I would think that the preparation before entering the workforce would have to be something substantial. However, having entered the workforce less than 10 years ago, having attended high school and college within the last decade, I know firsthand that the preparation for the workforce simply isn’t there. Students are taught about and tested on various subjects which they have to pass until they get a diploma or degree. If the school systems would show the parallels between the skills that are required to be successful in specific subjects and how they could relate to real-world applications in careers, that could be immensely helpful. But with such little (to non-existent) preparation before new adults are expected to join the workforce, how can a person be expected to know what they will excel in and what they will enjoy?
  • What if you start down one career path while you’re also going to school, but your focus at school changes direction a few times?
  • In theory, you should always be learning and growing and therefore you’re constantly evolving. If you’re evolving and your skills are being honed and perfected, then wouldn’t it be natural that your interests and career aspirations would evolve as well? If you’re not growing and learning, then wouldn’t that be a point of concern, especially for an employer? In my opinion, growing and learning are invaluable.

What could be considered “job-hopping” could also be a natural course of growth for some people. In my experience, my tenure at any given position has absolutely nothing to do with my stability or loyalty. In fact, I am extremely loyal and hard-working, driven to help to the full extent and in any way that I can.

Beyond that, what about the benefits that can be brought about only by acquiring this varied experience? Personally, my decade of real job experience has been a true adventure, with some amazing opportunities and some difficult lessons. I have learned SO MUCH. Most importantly, I have learned what I am capable of, what I can overcome, what drives me. I’ve learned about my strengths, what I will and won’t tolerate, and what I deserve. I have a much better idea of the things I want out of life and my career, the things I want to do, and the kind of person and professional I want to be.

I don’t believe that the term of a job position should be the determining factor in whether a person is considered.  If a candidate has presented themselves and their skills and experience well in their resume, if their skills and knowledge would be beneficial to the position and company, if they provide verifiable references and if the only concern is that they could be perceived as a job-hopper I believe they are worth getting to know a bit more; at the very least, they deserve an introductory conversation!