Should I Job Hop?

Question:

I am 25 and have had 3 jobs. I left the first after 1.5 years to get engaged. Let the 2nd because I wanted more responsibility and I am now wanting to get out of the 3rd. I am applying to grad school for fall 2009 and if I get in (in March) I would like to quit. I would have then spent a year in that position.

I would then be facing 6+ months of unemployment, but the current job is so horrid that I really need to get out. Should I stick it out?

I went to a good college, all companies are very reputable..its just not a good match. I don’t want to ruin my future.

Signed,

Go or Stay?


Answer:

DearĀ Go or Stay?:

This specific topic was being discussed at a job fair I attended last week! Thus, I can give you two or three perspectives that might be helpful.

The overall view was that the key to preventing brief and multiple employment from being viewed negatively, is how it is presented in the resume and the interview. The brevity or job hopping did not matter nearly as much as the nature of the jobs, why the employee left and how they presented it later.

Here is the general suggestion for that: Get quotable material from managers and supervisors in each job, either through a formal performance evaluation narrative, a letter of reference, or a response to a letter you send in which you ask for something you can use in resumes. (It is also possible to simply write a letter and ask some leading questions, the answers to which you can then quote.)

Then, you format your resume somewhat like this: January 2000-June 2000, Acme Widgets Parts assembly and packaging This job required me to use motor skills and to work with a team to ensure speed and productivity.

Supervisor, Herman. K. Smith (123) 456-7890 “….your attention to detail was phenomenal and you were a great member of the team!”

A similar format is used for each employment, short though the time might have been there.

One recruiting agent for a large company said he doesn’t worry about multiple jobs so much as the reason for leaving and reason for going to the next place. Since many companies will only verify employment it is hard to know about such things. So, well written references or quotes are very important to his HR section.

As for whether or not you should stay in your current job, I think the view of those who were discussing such things would be that that if the job can be used to build a strong resume it’s worth it to hang on as long as possible. You can use a job to show your ability to do exceptional work or to gain the opportunity to learn a new skill or participate in some important task.

But, if being in the job is so problematic that you end up not being viewed positively, it’s best to leave while everyone still feels good about you. If they have gotten over that already, stick around while you repair the damage through dependability, credibility and being considered of value to others and to the group. That assumes that there is nothing about the job that is punitive to you physically or emotionally.

Since you will be going to grad school, you hope, it may be that it will provide the break in the action that you need to rehabilitate your resume even if someone should view multiple jobs negatively. (But, of course, if you quit you may not have the money you need to accomplish your goals.)

The bottom line is, I don’t think, especially at your age, that your work history will have a bad impact on your future, unless you continue moving from job to job even after graduate school.

We all tend to have a time in which we are forgiven for flitting a bit, but at some point there is an expectation that we will decide at least in a general sense, what we want to do–then stick with it long enough to accomplish something positive.

I hope this has been helpful for you as you decide a plan of action about your work. Best wishes!

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.