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Too Many Jobs on Your Resume?

September 18, 2008 5:12 PM

Is it possible to have had too many jobs? Speaking for myself, the answer is no. But then, I’ve changed careers and jobs probably more than most people I know. I never found it to be detrimental to my professional life. In fact, I ended up making more money and gaining more experience. However, there’s still this belief that changing jobs too often makes one a “job hopper.” I just read that in the careers section of my local newspaper. No wonder when I critique resumes, my clients are often concerned about having too many jobs listed.

When I got my first corporate IT job, longevity was very important. You showed that you were a stable employee by staying 10, 15 or more years with the company. I’d planned to stay with that company for five years, but got so comfortable that I ended up staying for almost ten. Then when I was considering leaving, it took me almost a year to prepare myself mentally to go back out into the world. I was afraid to leave a place that had become a sanctuary. I probably wouldn’t have left if the company hadn’t had major layoffs.

On the other end of the spectrum, a cousin of mine has worked at a major financial company for over 20 years. One of her younger coworkers was surprised that she would stay in one place that long. The coworker then went on to say that she had no intention of staying in any company for more than a couple of years. My cousin feels that to her younger coworkers, she’s a leftover from bygone days.

From what I’ve heard from recruiters and people involved in career management, the “job hopper” characterization is sadly out of date. Things are moving faster and faster, and if opportunity is knocking from outside of your current company, you might as well answer. Though you may not want your resume to show a lot of turnover (jobs you’ve held for less than a year) it’s no longer a bad thing to show movement. As one of my managers so eloquently stated during the company layoffs, “nobody promised you lifetime employment.” It sounded very harsh to hear that at the time, but I thank him for stating it so plainly. That became one more motivator for me to go out and follow my own path.

Comments (6)

Inspirational, I'm unemployed currently, registered with about a dozen agencies & "you've had too many jobs in the last ten years" is all I hear, day after day. I've bookmarked this page so I can quote "verbatum" so of your rhetoric next time I hear it!

My name is Leslie and I am a single mother of a 7 month old son. I am currently working on my PhD in human services with the hopes of starting my own nonprofit organization. I have the desire to change jobs and find a new one in the nonprofit arena but I am slightly afraid. The fear I have comes from a few of the reasons mentioned earlier. One is the instability of the economy. The second is the fear of how another career move would look on my resume. It is good to know that other people have the same fears. I keep telling myself that I will make a move after I finish school but then I feel stagnate. I feel like I should be doing something 'productive'. I may just have to take a chance and see what happens.

My name is Leslie and I am a single mother of a 7 month old son. I am currently working on my PhD in human services with the hopes of starting my own nonprofit organization. I have the desire to change jobs and find a new one in the nonprofit arena but I am slightly afraid. The fear I have comes from a few of the reasons mentioned earlier. One is the instability of the economy. The second is the fear of how another career move would look on my resume. It is good to know that other people have the same fears. I keep telling myself that I will make a move after I finish school but then I feel stagnate. I feel like I should be doing something 'productive'. I may just have to take a chance and see what happens.

I really enjoyed your comments. I am a career coach in Northern California and you are absolutely right about the times have changed and moving around every couple of years is not a black mark against you. It's not like when our parents were working and they had to stay in the same job and same industry for 49 years. It's different today.

It's very important to show a work history that represents who you are so when you walk into the interview and you are 40 years of age or older but you have only put the last 10 years of work experience on your resume, the hiring manager, recruiter, or human resource professional (depending on which one you are interviewing with) will make the assumption that you were worried about being discrimanated against.

Please communicate your entire story on the resume so we know exactly who is walking in the door. Plus, we who are working today in the workforce are selling our core competencies, transferrable skills, our personality, education, and experience. So if you only put the last 10 years and you have left out 10 previous years with transferrable skills that might be helpful in your new job, it might prevent you from getting that perfect job.

Also, with the multigenerational workforce in full swing, you are right, the younger generation 18-30 don't have the same outlook on staying at a job for 10-20 years like most of us over 40 do or did.

Hi My name is Carol Ann Young and I have just written my autobiography and I have recorded a song of the same title. It is based on my "Journey of Awareness" through life. I was a single mother of two boys which are both grown. I have written about my heartaches and dreams that were once shattered because of rejection and those who did not believe it me. I have had abuse and an abortion that caused emotional and spiritual trauma.

I have two college degrees which I achieved during the years my children were growing up. Raising children caused me to put my hopes and dreams aside. I feel that now that they are out of the house and grown, this is the time to utilize my skills and start a home-based business. I love to read and write and I was thinking about proofreading and editing books or helping students with reports. I love poetry and I have thought of producing an "Inspirational Greeting Card Line" dealing with sensitive issues that many people do not like to talk about, especially women. Forgiveness, loss of a child, sometimes by our choice and other times by the Hand of God, but there is grief associated with it. I know firsthand.

I commend all of you women who have become successful at various ages and stages of life. I find now that I'm heading toward the "Golden Years" that I am more comfortable with myself and my husband. This is my third marriage. There is hope, ladies. I found him in Church and he is a jewel. He is also l3 years younger than I am.

He supports me in whatever I choose to do and that is a blessing in and of itself.

I would like some comments as to what you may think a good on-line business would look like and what is truly needed.

Thank you and God Bless You. Carol Ann.

P.S. I hope you will read the book. It is available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.

It's great to hear this. I have had the misfortune of working with small companies that have gone through layoffs of which "being in the last group hired" I'm a part of the group to be laid-off. However, over the past 6 years my salary increased over $24K, I have great references and received handsome severance upon my exit.

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