Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dear CR: I Look Like A Job Hopper


What is the best way to address gaps in one's resume/perceived job hopping? Say a person fell into a particular field by chance and ended up holding multiple jobs in that field while in the process of figuring out that the field just wasn't for them, and that this meant that they ended up with a number of jobs of less than six months duration in a row. What would be the best way to finesse that in terms of both resume and interviews so as not to give the impression of simply being flaky and unreliable?





Job hopping doesn't look good, but that doesn't mean it isn't good. There's two parts to bucking the job hopping trend, feeling good and looking good.

Part 1. Feeling good. There's no shame in job hopping, unless you do it for sport. You tried sales, tried it again, and then tried it again. Now you know you don't like sales, and it's better to know now than 20 years later! So do whatever you have to do to feel good about it, or at least realize you don't need to feel guilty. You've got guts to try something that scares most people, and you've got brains to walk away when it's time.

Part 2. Every employer wants to put a label on you. Instead of getting the label "I'm in sales", put a label on your self (aka your resume) that says "I'm in (something)". It's not fair being labeled, but we humans judge each other all the time, so just go with the flow. By labeling yourself, you get more control over the process of how people try to define you. It also helps if your label is kind of accurate. Unless you're one of NASA's elite, the label "I'm an astronaut" won't get you a seat on the next space shuttle mission :)

Here's a really straight forward method for looking more focused:

  • A short summary of 3-5 points.

  • For experience that helps you say "I'm a (something)", say more.

  • For experience that doesn't help say less (or even leave it off altogether).

  • Use years only for the dates on your resume.

Below I've typed up an over simplified resume example to try and illustrate my point. Just remember that employers are short on time and creativity. The less information you give them about irrelevant experience, the less you can be judged for it. You don't actually need to say that much at all.

Good luck!



Over Simplified Resume Example:

Some City, CA


* 10+ years of freelance writing for music industry
* 2+ years of retail sales experience
* Social media savvy - Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn


Awesome Freelance Writing Job
Self employed
1999 - present

* Focused on the music industry - rock, pop, hip hop
* Published in :
-Publication A
-Publication B
-Web site C
* Something else I did #1
* Something else I did #2
* Something else I did #3

Crappy Job #1
Retail Sales Company A
* Operated cash register, handled inventory, tried not to complain
* Caught 4 shoplifters red handed!

Crappy Job #2
Retail Sales Company 2
* Pretty much the same as Crappy Job #1

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