8/13/23 - How To Address Frequent Job Changes During Interviews
Job-hopping is defined as moving from position to position often, typically staying in each role for fewer than two years. This is much shorter than the average employee’s tenure of 4.3 years for men and 3.8 years for women, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2022.
Hiring managers can view frequent job changes in two ways: as justified or as a signal of disloyalty or disengagement.
Of course, you want to convince them your job-hopping has been rational. If you’re a younger professional, perhaps you were searching for your perfect role or exploring your options. Whatever your age, you might end up job hopping if roles weren’t clearly explained to you, the company folded, or your position was eliminated. Maybe you had to leave a role to care for a sick family member.
You might never have intended to job-hop, but a series of unfortunate circumstances gave you no other choice.
Regardless of why you have frequent job changes in your work history, you will still need to account for them during the interview process.
“When handled well, explaining job hopping in an interview can be a way for the hiring manager to see the positive elements of your varied work experience while being assured that you don’t plan to ‘jump ship,'” explains Krista Brown for SHRM.
Here’s how to make your job hopping seem like an asset, not a red flag, in a job interview.
Make it clear you learned a new skill or about yourself during each job.
Job hopping can be framed negatively if it seems like you simply got bored with a role and moved on. But hiring managers can view frequent job changes more positively if you discuss shifting roles as a means to developing new skills, moving up in your career, or figuring out what you want.
So, articulate what you learned about yourself when you changed jobs.
For instance, if you changed career fields more than once, you should articulate what you didn’t like about those first two options before sharing what made the third one a better fit. Or you could talk about the skills you learned in one temporary role that allowed you to move quickly into a more advanced position at another company.
Articulate that you had varied professional experiences.
Because you want to suggest that you learned more about who you were professionally through each job change, you don’t want to suggest that you left similar positions multiple times, even if you did. Instead, modify the job titles and vary the responsibilities you performed, even if they were similar, to suggest that you intentionally made a lateral move.
This way, you can suggest that you’re moving forward, not just getting bored with one job and moving on to another without a clear purpose in mind.
Be honest about why you left.
There are plenty of valid reasons why someone might want to move on from a job. However, if you don’t tell the hiring manager what these reasons are, they might jump to the wrong conclusions.
So, don’t be afraid to tell your authentic story.
Perhaps you took a role that had you performing work that turned out to be quite different than what was advertised on the job posting. In the next position, then, maybe you didn’t feel like you could use your skills to their full potential.
Or maybe it’s the type of companies you’re drawn to that have been necessitating your career change.
“Professionals who gravitate toward work at startup companies, where there are no guarantees of stability, are expected to have a few job hops in their professional record. And, recruiters often question professionals who work in advertising and do not switch clients or companies every few years, as there’s a concern they’ll lose their edge,” says career expert Amanda Augustine.
You don’t want to badmouth other companies – that’s another red flag in hiring – but you don’t have to beat around the bush about why you decided to leave your past positions.
Don’t belabor the issue; address all of your jobs hopping in one fell swoop.
One thing you don’t want to do is have the hiring manager ask you questions about your job-hopping history again and again…and again.
Rather, you can nip questions like these in the bud by addressing your entire work history.
“Turn ‘several’ problems into one problem you can address quickly. That is, if you’ve had a handful of job hops, respond to all of them at once. Make it a universal issue you’ve now fixed. You can diffuse it all in one fell swoop,” suggests leadership coach Andrew LaCivita.
For instance, you could talk about how you weren’t sure about what you wanted to do in the past, but now that you’ve worked with a career coach, you’re more certain about the trajectory you’re seeking moving forward.
Or maybe your job hopped to advance more quickly through the steps of the career ladder, but now you want to commit to a company long-term.
What matters most to the hiring manager is if they hire you, you’re there to stay – for the long haul (or at least for around four years!).
The bottom line: you should articulate a reason you’ve changed jobs, whether it was to advance or to find the best role for you. Your interviewers want to be sure that if they offer you the job, you will stay at the company — and won’t be looking for a way out soon after you’re onboarded.
Still, concerned about how to address your job hopping in interviews? Connecting with one of Ivy Exec’s career coaches ensures that you’ll be able to describe the reasons behind your job changes smoothly and without hesitation.