As the global economy recovers, confidence is returning to the jobs market. The UK jobs market is currently growing at its fastest rate for 43 years, while the US reported record jobs growth in April.
But, just because there may be more opportunities out there than a few years ago, it is still important before you hand in your notice to think how a job move is going to look down the line on your CV or resumé.
There is a fine line between moving jobs regularly to maximise your career progression and suddenly finding yourself being tarred with the label “job hopper,” or someone who has hopped from job to job, appearing never to commit to any role or position.
Of course, in this day and age the fact your CV is marked by multiple job moves may be no fault of your own.
Indeed, as we move into a brighter economic climate, it is more than likely employers are going to be receiving more CVs from potential candidates who, to make ends meet in the tough times, have had little option but to move from role to role more frequently than they would have wished.
So, how can you avoid being branded a job hopper by a potential employer and, if you’re worried your CV is already looking that way, how can you “manage” this message at application? Here are four tips that should help.
1) Be honest (sort of)
It’s important to ensure there aren’t any gaps on your CV, as an employer will want to know why. But, at the same time, if you went through a period where, say, you were forced to move through a succession of short-term roles, it can make sense to try to downplay the “hopping” element.
So it might be a case of bundling up a variety of short-term positions into a single year, leaving out the specific months or even the actual positions (as long as you are still able to show what you’ve achieved in that period). Putting dates in parenthesis after the job title can also be a good idea, as this can allow you to focus more on the role and what you achieved.
2) Be honest (part two)
If there are specific reasons out of your control as to why you needed to move – redundancy or because it was simply a short-term contract, for example – again, be honest about it. Most reasonable employers will accept people have been buffeted by the economy in the past few years and, as such, may have been forced to make difficult choices.
But, at the same time, focus on what you gained or learned from the experiences, even the short-term roles. Even if you don’t feel you added a particular skill or competency to your “brand” it’s likely you developed useful attributes, such as resilience, independence or adapting quickly to a new environment or challenge.
3) Focus on your achievements
Try to move the focus of your CV away from the number of roles to what you’ve learned or achieved within and during them. The goal, if you can, is to show steady, consistent growth and development. So (as per above) emphasise any new skills or competencies you learned in these roles, show evidence of where you took on extra responsibility or achieved specific goals or targets.
In essence, you’re looking to move the debate away from a potential negative – the fact you’ve moved around a lot – to a definite positive: that by moving around you’ll be able to bring an added x, y and z to the employment you are applying for.
4) ‘Sweat’ your covering letter
This can be a tricky one if the application only allows you to use a standard form but if you’re able to submit a covering letter, use it. The covering letter is an opportunity to explain to your prospective employer in a simple, plausible, positive way that they’ve nothing to fear from your previous record of frequent job moves.
You can also use the covering letter to highlight the unique skills, outlook and attitude you’ve gained through all these diverse experiences. It is important to present your past as something positive, that you’re not ashamed of or are making excuses for.
Within this, it can also be a good idea to emphasise that you’re keen to commit yourself to the long term at the company. It’s all about tackling the fear factor an employer may have about you and reassuring them you’re not going to be “hopping” along in a matter of months.