How to Have an Amazing Profile After Jobhopping

I want to clear a very common misconception about job-hopping. It’s a bit of an unkindly term describing those who change their jobs a bit too often. And people who changed their jobs a few times often worry they had committed a sin and put a good career to an end. There’s often a belief that recruiters will tag them as “jobhoppers” and trash their resume.

As an ex-recruiter I actually have placed quite a few of “Jobhoppers” by that definition. But they had very good reasons for moving or changing job though more often than they wanted to. On the other hand, there are jobhoppers who cannot offer good reasons and did not know where they were going.

Good vs. Bad Jobhoppers

What differentiates a good jobhopper and a bad jobhopper is actually logic in the story. “Logic” here means:

if we put anyone, namely the hiring manager or recruiter in the same situation, given the same personality and desire in life, they would have made exactly the same choice.

This is what I mean by having good “logic”.

How I Apply Fiction-Writing Techniques to Resume Writing and Interview Preparation

Logic is what we often look for in stories. In my other life, I write fiction and study how to write a good story. A good story is exactly that: for a character with a certain desire and a certain personality, when a situation arises, he or she will make a certain decision. And if that decision is logical, the story becomes real and relatable.

Similarly, you can deploy the same technique to resume writing and interviews:

  • Who you are (or were at that point of time)
  • What you wanted
  • What was the situation

Among these three elements, you should focus on “Who You Are/Were”. Because it is the element most likely going to last throughout your entire career history, and into the future. And this is the single important thing your prospective employer is looking for.

As for “What You Wanted”, your desire at that point of time would not be that important because this thing constantly evolves. What you wanted that time is likely not relevant in the future. Say when I was a junior software engineer, and my desire was to move into the business domain. This desire is not so important because later when I was already in the business domain, I didn’t want the same thing any more.

But what’s important is that, I being who I was, did not take no for an answer, although everyone was saying it’s impossible for a junior programmer with 2 years experience to move into sales role or project management. So I think this spirit of not taking no for an answer and continuously finding ways to change for the better, is also showing up in my later moves.

We can identify this as a key personality trait which will benefit my future career. And these things ultimately decide what the right career will be for me. And this is definitely a message I want to deliver with my story to any prospective employers.

As for “What the Situation Was”, it’s really not that important. We should leave it out as much as possible. What’s the point spending 5 minutes talking about why that company couldn’t offer me such an opportunity and I anyway didn’t like it for other reasons too. The employers are not interested in that company you worked for, they are interested in you. Besides, usually such information is in a negative note.

In Summary: focus on who you were, who you still are, and a little bit of what you desired back then.

And then what? How do I use these stuff?

Link Your Past Stories to Demonstrate a Pattern with Consistency

Let me share with you a favourite quote from a book I read recently, “Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance” by Robert M. Pirsig.

“You look where you are going, and where you are. And it never makes sense. But then you look back at where you’ve been, and the pattern starts to emerge.”

And this “pattern” is exactly what we want to demonstrate through telling our life stories to the prospective employers.

If by now we have all the good logics sorted out for every decision point in the past, now is the time for us the chain these pearls together. To make it into a beautiful necklace or jewelry, there needs to be a pattern, a certain consistency such as color, size, texture, for these stories as an entirety to make sense together. And if you do that right and you are able to bring out the identifiable pattern and personality traits to your prospective employers, then, congratulations, you belong to the group of the good jobhoppers.

Be Selective, Not Wholesome

Being a good jobhopper brings many benefits. Although you may be lacking of certain depth comparing to those who stays in the same field, you do bring along other knowledge, from the different industries, functions, and understanding of businesses in general. You also worked with different cultures and different people, which are all intangible assets for your next employer.

But do you want to bring ALL that you have in one big bag and just offer them as is?

Obviously, you don’t want to. Because, if the employer is looking for sales, and I have 8 years in HR, and a few years in marketing, it’s not going to help much. I’d better focus on my experience in sales, and the sales element in other jobs.

Of course, for whatever is transferable, we want to bring that up as well. For example, if they are looking for someone to start a team in sales, then I will bring my start-up experience onto the table.

Here’s my other article on how to write amazing resumes.

Also see my article on How to take stock of your career capital. It will help you to identify which pointers come up the strongest in your past experience.

Summary

In summary, for someone who “Jobhopped”, it’s not the end of your career. In writing your resume and preparing for interview, remember the following:

  • At each of your decision points, your decision should be logical given who you were, what you wanted, and what the situation was
  • Make sure there is a pattern/consistency from your past that will stand out as a story, of telling your personality traits
  • Lastly, be selective to focus on your past experience which are relevant to the job

The last point takes us to a new territory, till now we have been talking about our understanding of ourselves, but now we are talking about what the employer wants. Will put link to respective articles here in the future.

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MEET YOUR COACH

 Yolanda is a certified transformational coach, entrepreneur, and multi-award-winning writer. She holds an MBA from INSEAD, served director/VP level BD roles in Fortune 500 MNCs and tech unicorns. 

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