I Have Job Hopped A Lot. Is That Bad?
Longevity does still matter in certain industries. In our business of placing administrative and human resources professionals, a jumpy resume is the number one reason a client won't meet a candidate. Now, that said, it isn't all doom and gloom for job hoppers—even if your field doesn't look glowingly at it.
For instance, one IT worker we met was recently advised by a prominent venture capital firm to accumulate "more logos" on his resume, a license essentially to seek out shorter employment stints at high-profile companies. There's no magic number and, arguably, the standard for what's an acceptable tenure varies a lot across roles. There are also some double standards. For example, engineers and technical recruiters seem to change jobs much more frequently than do, say, administrative professionals who are often stigmatized by a similar degree of movement.
When it comes to addressing your bumpy career trajectory, keep the following in mind:
1. Own the Movement
You can't hide from it, so own it. Be prepared to address the movement on your resume because you may be asked point-blank about the numerous positions you've held in a brief period. Practicing your response to this curious question is crucial so that you don't come across as negative, phony, or a person making a bunch of excuses about why the various jobs didn't work out. Here's what your thoughtful and reflective response might sound like: "I understand my movement is less than ideal, but the lessons I've taken from these experiences aren't to be underestimated. I've been exposed to a number of systems and technologies, and I have a solid handle on how to navigate different managerial styles and company cultures. At this point in my career, I'm eager to find work with a company I can grow with and where I can lend my breadth of experience and knowledge."
2. Be Sincere
Let your interviewer know, in a genuine way, that you want a long-term home as much as they want a long-term hire. Maybe these past four years were your career sandbox, and you've used this time to discover truths about yourself and your craft. Be careful not to say anything negative about your past employers, but if there's a helpful anecdote or two you can share that'll help shed some light on your many jobs in not a lot of years, use it to explain your situation.
3. Get the Full Picture
Part of "adulting" means making better, more informed decisions. So ask yourself and your next potential company the tough questions to ensure you aren't going to take the job and want to leave in nine months. For example, is there stability in the company and its products? What is the organization's long-term plan? Do you believe you're a good culture fit? What about your future boss—what's their management style, and will it work for you? Is this a place you can advance your career?
Remember that each new role represents a juncture and an opportunity to reflect on what's contributed to your success or disillusionment. Take the time to ensure you're making measured choices. Do this, and you won't be hopping along indefinitely.
Employee Questions and Answers
I am over 40. How can I apply to younger hiring managers ?
Omitting your graduation date isn't "sketchy," in fact, it's a very effective technique for older job seekers. There are plenty of tips and tricks out there, but here are three techniques that'll propel you past the age-specific concerns that are getting in your way.
1. Get Ahead of Objections
Before you head into an interview (regardless of your age) you should ask yourself what in your background might be of concern to the hiring manager. Sometimes frequent relocation or short stints of employment raise eyebrows. For the older job seeker, they might be how your professional experience lines up with the role you're after and what kind of salary you require. For example, if you're interviewing for a more mid-level role that won't have you managing anyone, a younger hiring manager may wonder why you aren't after a lead or management position. They may also presume that they can't afford you based on your years of experience. You can get ahead of their worries in how you answer the "tell me about yourself" question. Providing examples that proactively address a hiring manager's age-based concerns is the way to eliminate them. Talking about your desire to remain hands-on can explain your disinterest in a management position.
2. Align With the Culture
This is possibly the most important thing that you can do. Having a thorough understanding of a company's core values, and being able to demonstrate your alignment with them is crucial to overcoming the unspoken concern that the rest of the team might be younger than you. Pay special attention to the office culture, and if possible, try to land an informational interview with someone from the company. Nothing quite compares to having an internal champion singing your praises before you even apply to the job.
3. Do Not (Directly) Comment on Your Age
If you're interviewing with a person several years younger than you, keeping the focus on your relevant skills is key. Avoid statements that shift the focus to your age. Saying things like "Oh, I'm probably aging myself" in reference to an industry tool or obsolete brand or "I've worked with this system—but not since 2004" isn't helpful. Instead, refer to your experience by the employer, not by year. Try, "I had a chance to use this system with JP Morgan," or "I've been playing with the most recent release"—both better options than unnecessarily dating yourself.
At the end of the day, a company that won't even look your way because of your age is not a place you want to be. When experience is viewed as a liability instead of a benefit, it's not a job you'll love or a place where you will succeed. Finding companies and roles that value employees for their skill sets is key to finding professional happiness.
If I had to narrow it down to three tips, here's what I'd suggest doing to impress your boss and get ahead.
1. Meet People You Wouldn't Normally Meet
Getting to know co-workers outside your core team will help you understand your organization and its culture more clearly. Ask someone out for coffee or literally go around the office introducing yourself to colleagues you haven't officially met. Be respectful of others' time, but be friendly and make a point to learn names. As you get to know people, you'll gain knowledge and insight about the firm, and you'll make progress in building your personal network. I'm a huge proponent of networking—and internal networking is just as important as out-of-office.
2. Become an Expert on Company
Processes can be tough to get up to speed when you're the new person, so you should be looking at this slow period as a bonus time. The absence of real work means you have time to learn systems, get your inbox in order, and prepare for what's surely to come. Now's the perfect opportunity to soak up company processes and protocol. See if there are research and reading you can do to better position yourself for when the first assignment lands on your desk.
3. Find a Useful Project and Try to Lead its Execution
One of the most direct ways that you can demonstrate ambition is by using what you've learned from the above tips to start an initiative that will improve an area that could use streamlining. In some roles, this will mean writing a proposal and seeking approval; in others, it might mean building a new report on your own. Can you, in your position, take a deep dive into past work the firm's focused on? Keep in mind that any project or initiative you choose should be one that you can set aside and return to at a later point for when the day arrives (and it will!) when you're suddenly up to your ears at work. This is an opportune period to focus on things that you're normally too busy for, but remember that these tips are just a start. It can feel awkward in a new role when you're learning the ropes and trying to make your mark but know that this is, indeed, a common conundrum.
Do your best not to overthink it: You were hired for a reason, and sooner or later you'll get your opportunity to show everyone what an asset you are to the team.
Work Is Slow. How Can I still prove my worth?
I am losing interest in my job. Is there a solution?
Identify the Problem
Losing interest in your job can happen when you’re no longer feeling challenged at what you do. While some employees like to stick to a certain routine, others need a regular change of pace. There are also numerous factors in the workplace that can cause you to feel unmotivated such as a deteriorating relationship with your coworkers or your boss, a toxic working environment, and a lack of appreciation for your efforts. Creating a list of what you don’t like about your job and ranking each item based on its importance is the first step in reviving your career interest.
Develop a New Skill
The day you stop learning is the day you are dead. Once your own learning curve starts going down, you need to start looking for a new learning experience. Don’t overcomplicate things by obsessing over every last detail and choose a skill that you think will work and give it a try. Even if you fail, take a lesson from this incident and move on to the next project. What you need to understand is that mistakes are not failures, they are simply the process of eliminating ways that won’t work in order to come closer to the ways that will.
Take Some Time Off
In order to maintain your productivity levels, you need to give your brain a break. You need to slow down so you can focus on the heavy tasks that need your undivided attention. Employees who take regular breaks from their work are much more creative and energetic than those who stay glued to their desks all day long. While giving your employees too much time to “play” might seem counter-intuitive, studies have revealed that taking regular breaks and vacations reduces stress, which can lead to better ideas and increased innovation. Take some time off during low seasons to unwind and rejuvenate. This will pay off when you get back into the game.
Revaluate your Career Path
It’s so easy to get stuck in your daily routine that you forget that there’s a world full of possibilities out there. If you’ve been feeling bored and miserable for such a long time, then perhaps it’s time you considered changing career paths. This can be a risky and scary step to take, but the key to a successful new career is to know yourself and how you work at your best. Career planning never stops and you will probably have to reassess your career plan several times during your life. In today’s business world the typical person joining the workforce will have as many as five to six different jobs by the time he or she retires. People continue to change and evolve throughout life, so does the job market. Once you’ve clearly identified what you’re looking for in a career, you will find that there are a number of paths that match your skills. Your goal at this point should be to take the next best step.
My boss and I are not getting along. What should I do?
Do: Empathize with your boss in order to get a clearer understanding of their priorities and the pressures they’re under.Build a personal relationship with your boss by engaging them in conversation topics beyond work. Ask your boss for their guidance and counsel; this shows you respect their judgment and intellect
Don’t: Assume your boss’s attitude toward you is personal. Figure out the extent to which your boss behaves differently with you than with other people. Harp on your boss’s annoying habits. Focus on his positive traits. Give up and look for a new job too soon. Working for a difficult personality helps you build resilience.
Job searching is hard. I am not getting any calls. What should I do to ge a job?
Being rejected is worse when it happens a few times. It gets you demotivated and depressed, and confused. You start questioning yourself. "Why is this happening to me? Not now. I need a job or at least an interview to prove myself. I know if I get at least one interview, I will get a job". Remember, almost everyone gets a job. Some are blessed to get an appointment letter and start immediately, while others have to wait, days if not months to land a decent job. Remember, you are probably very good at your work, and this thought must be consistent in your job application. The last thing an interviewer wants is a "dejected and depressed employee who cannot handle stress". Easy to say, but it is true. Rarely do the interviewers understand the situation, but they are not to blame. They are looking for the right candidate.
My salary has reduced. Should I quit?
Sometimes it's an economic cycle that forces your hand. Other times it's an opportunity where the career upsides outweigh the compensation package. Or maybe you've just had to move. No matter your reason, accepting a lower salary than the one you've earned previously isn't any fun. But there are actually some upsides to making less, and they can change your perspective on your career and even yourself in ways you might not expect.
Over the years, good employees had to take pay cuts, have their paychecks delayed, and still manage accordingly. Though it's really terrible each time that's happened, those were periods when a few lessons that later proved hugely valuable, maybe learned
1. You Get To Refocus On What Really Matters
When you take a pay cut, money is no longer the be-all-end-all of your work. You've got to budget more carefully, and that means worldly goods can't be as high a priority as they might have been before. You realize money isn't the root of your happiness.
Instead, you can change your perspective and refocus on the other aspects of your life that don't require money—like your health, family, and personal relationships. We really start to find out what was important in life. It's amazing how perspective changes.
2. It Helps You Reassess Your Market Value
Most of us are always trying to see how we can earn more money. Once we do, then it becomes how to make even more than that. But when you have to go the other way on the scale, money isn’t the driving force any longer. It finds its place as something necessary to live but not essential for thriving.
3. You Can Recalibrate Your Work-Life Balance
Accepting a lower salary can help evaluate your skills and pin down what amount of money I'm truly worth. It can cause you to focus on building up a more valuable skill set that people would be willing to pay more for.
A lower salary may mean a job that no longer requires a commute or one that entails fewer responsibilities. It could even involve flextime so you don't have to be at a physical job site as often. In return, you earn back the gift of time so you can rebalance your career and personal life.
Suddenly, you have time to socialize, stay in shape, and even return to hobbies (some of which might even earn you some side dough to top up that savings account). You may even find that you can do things that give back, like volunteering in the community, for another enriching experience.
4. You Learn To Do More With Less
When forced to do more with less, many people rise to the occasion. "Resource scarcity" has been linked with creativity, and it makes sense—when you have to stretch every dollar, you're forced to come up with novel ways to do that. You'll find new ways of actually using what you've got. That won't just make you more efficient, it will make you more resourceful.
In fact, the last recession may even have popularized a "less is more" mindset that may never have taken root otherwise—stimulating the sharing economy, inspiring the likes of Uber and Airbnb, as well as sparking wider interest in trading, recycled and homemade goods, and sustainability issues.
5. It Helps You Find Opportunities You Would Otherwise Overlook
Making less money can also incentivize you to take risks and seize opportunities you wouldn't in different circumstances. You may strike out as an entrepreneur and see if you have what it takes. Or maybe you've always dreamed of running your own business but were afraid to do it because the money was always there with your traditional job. Once that salary starts to decrease, it may push you to finally take the leap. Nothing increases ambition like discovering you'll need to make less.
If you're considering taking a pay cut, the first step is to assess its impact on your overall budget—especially if your income helps support a family—and weigh your options in terms of what expenses you can reduce. But don't lose sight of what you might gain. Sometimes it's the experience of dealing with less that helps you do more.
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