Over at Business Insider, Mark Suster laid down a rant: Never Hire Job Hoppers. Never. They Make Terrible Employees. A buddy of mine sent it along and said she thinks it’s entirely one-sided from the employer’s perspective.

I don’t endorse everything Suster says in his posting (he says a lot), but I think he’s generally right.

Any job hopper who’s fool enough to be one of 1,000 resumes on some manager’s desk deserves to be dumped into the trash can. Gimme a break — your work history shows you bounce around like a ping pong ball and you expect a manager to overlook it until she gets to meet you in person to see what a wonderful, unique individual you are and that your job hopping was due to extenuating circumstances that you can explain, given the opportunity?

Just stick a fork in your butt — trust me, you’re done. You not only job hopped, you’re advertising it to the world by applying for jobs with a resume. Do you really expect a manager is gonna “understand” when she doesn’t even know you? You are revealing that, on top of being a job hopper, your judgment sucks.

(If you try to hide your job hopping on your resume, you’re gonna get busted. Those clever techniques for obscuring when and where you worked — they make you look like you’re hiding something. Which you are. So cut it out.)

Does this mean your career is over? Of course not. I write this blog to help people deal with in-your-face problems, and this is one of them. But that fork sticking out of your butt — it’s real, and it hurts, and pulling it out is gonna hurt even more. There is no easy fix.

I’ve never known a job hopper who was not in pain. And I’ve never known a successful professional who wished he had five jobs in a six-year career. The fix is not to sell a little career crack to job hoppers and tell them that we envy their exciting lives. The fix is to help them become more stable and to build a healthy reputation.

Two suggestions:

  • First, toss out your resume. Trash it yourself, before an employer trashes it for you. And I don’t mean you should get a better resume. I mean, Stop using a flyer that says KICK ME on it. Period. No resume. Search for a job strictly through personal referrals and face-to-face contacts which enable you to make your case before your butt is kicked into the can.
  • Second, find a place to work where you can stay put. Penelope Trunk — who tells you loyalty doesn’t matter and job hopping is good — is sticking a needle in your vein, pumping you full of happy juice, and leaving your career to die while she drives off to the bank to deposit the GoogleAds checks she collects for advertising career crack to confused GenY’s. Stay off the juice. Stay put. Establish a reputation. Then trade on it.

You don’t have time to do all that hard work to be successful? That’s your problem, not an employer’s.

Now, here’s the coda: You don’t have to be loyal, and the reason might be that employers haven’t been loyal to you. You might have doubled your salary in each of the six hops you made in ten years. You might be the guru of whatever it is you do, free to wander anywhere you like. Good for you. Congratulations.

But when you can’t find your next job because you’re viewed as a job hopper, hop along. Remember that your career record is your own choice.

When Lazy Careerist Penelope Trunk offers you the needle, just say no. Kudos to Mark Suster for delivering tough love to job hoppers who want to get straight, and to savvy professionals who want to stay clean.

(If the distinction between job hoppers and consultants, and between temporary and full-time employees suddenly makes you nervous, check out Journeyman Or Partner?)


  1. Hi Nick – I completely agree with your thoughts on not only Gen Y, but any job hoppers. This issue is one I most often hear clients concerned over.

    They get caught up early on in the excitement being recruited or finding a job that pays just a little more. Before they realize it 10 years has gone by and they have nothing substantial to show for it.

    A couple moves are understandable to get your career started but in order to prove you have value to offer you have to stay someplace long enough to create that value.

    Great post!
    Kris Plantrich

  2. I agree with this post, whole-heartedly. I agree that I’ll be able to give great value to the company I join if I stay long enough to deeply understand and solve their problems. And that trust takes time.

    BUT, Where is the reciprocal relationship from the employer? How does the employer commit to giving a person a set of business problems that are do-able, within line of their business? And then where is the employer’s committment to the employee as a human being?

  3. Nick,

    I agree with you on job-hopping, however, in today’s economy it can be difficult to distinguish job-hopping from being in the wrong place in the wrong time. For example, I went through a stretch starting with the Internet dot-bomb where one company closed the office, the second folded after a year and the third moved my group overseas after 3 years.

    The other thing that causes people to job-hop is losing a job then jumping at the first thing that comes along. That strategy rarely works out because the fit just isn’t there, and the job doesn’t work out. But the temptation is huge when you are out of work, and there are lots of people in that situation.

    What advice would you have for someone who has job-hopped for legitimate reasons. For example, would you place the reason for leaving each job on the resume?

  4. You might want to take a look at Penelope Trunk’s blog Why Job Hoppers Make the Best Employees: http://blogs.bnet.com/career-advice/?p=811&tag=nl.e713

    I think moving around a bit makes you more valuable and varies your tool kit. With companies turning people out at a steady rate, many are ‘job hoppers’ through no fault of their own. Look at how someone can do the job and help the company make money. Don’t knock them out of the box through false perceptions.

  5. I agree with your comments, but I also would like to make a point that some jobs and careers require you to job hop. For example, I am in the broadcast journalism business and it is expected and encouraged by those who work behind and in front of the camera to job hop after 2-3 years in one station, to move up to a better and bigger market station so to speak. Now there are those who are mainstays at their TV markets and stay there for a long time, but the mentality goes that if you want a bigger paycheck, you will job hop to the next bigger TV market where after several jobs, you finally are able to reach the desired TV market you want to stay at.

  6. As a GenYer (27) just starting his career after completing grad school in the fall of 2009, I have two points. My resume might look like job hopping but that is entirely due to having _contract_ based jobs that only lasted a year or a summer.

    Avoiding a resume altogether sounds great (and Seth Godin makes a case for doing that in his new book “Linchpin”), but I don’t think this strategy works for people at the start of their profession or in certain sectors (i.e. anything public sector like government, cities, provinces/states etc) where a very specific hiring process is used, a resume is impossible to avoid.

  7. @Art: My advice is the same – see my posting. I think the point is to break out of the resume-based approach and establish your value without “leading” with that list of short gigs.

  8. @Dan: Thanks, but I’ve read enough of Trunk’s palaver. Penelope Trunk is an entertainer. And she’s as GenY as my Aunt Mary.

    But you misunderstand me. I’m not knocking job hoppers out of the box. I’m trying to pop them on the head because I feel sorry for them. Whatever the reason for hopping (assuming they are not consultant or in the media biz like S.C. or at the very start of their careers like Bruce, where a few hops are natural), if they want to build some stability, they’re not going to do it via traditional means. Their resumes are the wrong approach. Talking to people one on one and developing credible contacts is the best way to go.

  9. @Bruce: Sorry, but I believe “no resume” works for anyone, anywhere, any time. Please stop and ask yourself (and I’m not trying to be rude or confrontational), do you believe it’s not do-able, or do you just feel it’s too much work and too much of a shift from what you’re comfortable with? Even in government, who you know makes a tremendous difference. (Unfortunately, this also sometimes breeds nepotism and worse.)

  10. @Nick
    Thanks for the clarification. I agree that you should not be hopping with no plan. My concern was that many are being stigmatized because the companies that they work for are collapsing or throwing away their brain trust in spasms of layoffs and outsourcing.

    I agree that a no resume approach is the way to go and have adopted this myself. I have been on both sides of the hiring equation and developing trusted connections is the way to go. I would take someone that can learn and adapt to the changing business environment before anyone that only matches a specific list.

  11. Employers have a massive obligation in all this. When they dump people after a year or so, it sometimes triggers a chain of hopping. This puts even more pressure on people to choose carefully… check their (employers’) teeth if you have to. Interview depts connected to the one you will work in, before you accept an offer. Does it all click together? Is the “story” consistent and solid?

    Some people wind up with hops through no fault of their own. The problem is, it’s in the eye of the beholder. You must not encourage rejection by using tools and methods that highlight the hopping problem. Unfortunately, in this situation a resume is like that sticker on your back that says KICK ME.

  12. @Lucille I would like to add my take on this but frankly you nailed everything I would have said myself right here, “BUT, Where is the reciprocal relationship from the employer? How does the employer commit to giving a person a set of business problems that are do-able, within line of their business? And then where is the employer’s commitment to the employee as a human being?” Much of this circumstance occurs due to the employer’s incompetence, and in such circumstances, it takes the employee’s savvy judgment to know when to get the hell out, only a fool would hang around in such a situation.

  13. Job seekers looking for stability and challenges also need to be aware that sometimes they need to give something up for those characteristics. And by something, I mean salary. I’m fortunate to be in an organization which is committed to its people and hasn’t laid off any professionals because of financial pressures in over ten years.

    With that, there is a trade — salaries are below industry average. Not a lot below average, but below average. I’ve had plenty of job seekers complain and reject offers because of the salary without looking at the full value proposition. I say good riddance because if salary is their key issue, they won’t be a good fit for the organization and that was missed during the interview.

    Look at the whole picture with any job and understand that most of the time, you can’t get everything.

  14. @Nic: You say “it takes the employee’s savvy judgment to know when to get the hell out.”

    I agree! But if we step back, it’s far more important to learn how to know when to avoiding “joining up” to begin with. There’s no way to avoid all bad situations, but I wish job hunters would step back when they get an offer, and investigate the employer carefully before accepting.

  15. I agree Nic, but I have encountered employers or project employers who may initially ‘talk a good big talk,’ but once you get in their situation, it turns out to be living nightmare. My main point is that sometimes it is nearly impossible to judge ahead of time what you may be getting into. Do not misunderstand me, although I have made such mistakes a few times myself, and they have been far and few in-between, nonetheless it does happen to he best of us. At this point I get everything out in the open up front and in writing, with an exit strategy in place from day one, prepare from day one for all situations that may occur.

  16. Penelope’s article was one of the more ludicrous posts that I’ve read. Rather than citing any actual data or studies, the post basically reads like “Okay, everyone thinks that is disloyal, but its actually super loyal! Everyone thinks that this is emotionally immature, but its actually incredibly mature! Why? Because I say so!”.

  17. Neither Nick nor Penelope actually defines how many jobs held over what period of time constitutes ‘job-hopping’: Penelope mentions leaving a job after 2 years (when you’ve got nothing more to learn there) and Nick mention 5 jobs in 6 years. I’d agree that 5 jobs in 6 years would definitely send up some red flags, but 3 jobs in 6 years… not so much.

    I think they are both guilty of making broad generalizations about people based on nothing more than how many jobs they’ve held. Yes, some of those people are undoubtedly lazy, entitled brats. Yes, some of those people are undoubtedly hard-working, loyal people.

    I’m at my 7th job in 15 years (all the same field). I started out making $6.50 an hour (no college degree), and now make around 65K per year. At each job, when I’d learned everything I could from that employer, I’d move on to a new job where I was offered a step up in position and pay. (By the way, it took an awful lot of hard work on my part to do that successfully – I’ve worked my butt off to gain the knowledge and skills that I currently possess).

    I’ve been at my current job for a little over 3 years now, and I have no plans to leave any time soon. I’m working for a great company that has cultivated a good working environment, and on top of that I’m paid well and receive excellent benefits. Thanks to my job-hopping, I am well aware of just how good I have it. I appreciate how well I am treated, and in return I am completely loyal, both in my attitude and in my work performance.

    You can’t paint all ‘job-hoppers’ with the same brush – especially in this economy. If you view all job-hoppers as entitled, lazy slobs then you will be overlooking someone who would otherwise be a fantastic employee. If you view all job-hoppers as hard-working, creative geniuses then you’re going to end up with some problem employees that you wish you’d never hired.

  18. @Adrienne: You are misreading me. I’m not criticizing job hoppers per se; I’m criticizing the suggestion that (a) job hopping is good for you and, (b) hiding the fact on your resume is the solution.

    I am more concerned with helping job hoppers set their careers straight. Yah, hiring job hoppers is a risk. But job hunting by relying on employers to “understand” your job hopping is a waste of time.

  19. I’m in IT. I’m a former job hopper. When you’re first starting out, it’s hard to know how to find the kind of company that’s worth sticking with for the long haul. My first company was fantastic. Unfortunately, it was small enough that there was no room for advancement. Three people in the IT shop. I was #3. The other two with more seniority weren’t going to be leaving. 15 years and 4 jobs for me later, IT employees #1 and #2 are still there. IT has now expanded to four people. :)

    I stayed there for 3 years. Then had a job for 6 months with a startup that went under. Then a job for three months. Then had a job for a year with a company with horrible management. Then had a job for 3 years. I bailed when the company filed Chapter 11. When I was interviewing for that job, a few people pointed out that it looked like I was a job hopper. Not much I could say other than I had made some poor choices. At least, that was during the dot com boom. More jobs than qualified people.

    I’ve now been with my current company for eight years. I’m not looking, and I’m happy here. I’m glad for my experience with the not-so-good companies. That makes me appreciate my current company even when the idiots win the occasional battle. :)

    If my first company had been big enough so that I wouldn’t always be the low man on the pole, I’d probably still be working for them. My experience with the others has contributed to my overall knowledge base, and that’s made me a better employee.

  20. Here’s the thing. Something about this post bugged me when I first read it, so for a little while I thought it through, “People who job hop are less loyal, people who job hop aren’t going to stick it out, consultants’ aren’t interested in steady employment…” And I can’t necessarily disagree with that. Maybe it’s true.

    However, NOWHERE in this post does the author acknowledge that there are more people than there are jobs. His entire argument depends on there being work available for anyone who wants it. Maybe not the greatest work, but pay-the-bills work. And THAT is a relic from an unfortunately bygone era.

    There have been three to six unemployed persons for EVERY open position for at least a decade. Real employment has been falling. Wages have been falling. Temporary jobs without benefits have replaced jobs shipped overseas, and then unpaid internships have replaced temporary jobs.

    The author is writing a post from a time capsule. I would agree with him if his world still existed – if we lived in a country where everyone who wants a job that will allow for rent, a phone, and maybe some dry cleaning costs. But we don’t. We haven’t for a while.

    Everyone who wants a job will not get one. People will struggle with under-employment and temporary employment and jobs that don’t pay enough to cover student loan bills.

    If you want to blame the people stuck with bad options for the choices they made, well fine, that’s your right. But on a second reading, the article just comes off as after-the-fact justification for leaving nothing to the next generation. It’s people like the author who should be embarrassed by their legacy, not the people left to clean up the mess.

  21. Hi, Just a point I agree with, it is an employer’s market and people who are struggling are taking jobs that are not their field to just get some income. Are they going to change jobs if a higher paid job comes along? or develop “loyalty” to a entry-level, temporary stop-gap job? I think doing something is always better than a long gap in employment. It is not job-hopping, just reality right now and any employer who can’t show empathy is not going to show loyalty either.

  22. …and one must consider that today is a different playing field, regardless of field. Personal branding is also a very valid and relevant issue that cannot be ignored today. It has changed the playing field and will forever separate talent. Yet, that stated most today are still hiding terrified to have their name online, that is a major problem for many, and is one which is separating the wheat from the chaff.

    This is an entire new thread issue but one that certainly relates to the topic to a degree. There are just too many people lost in the cracks, which has much to do with their own level of initiative and confidence in their own abilities, in other words their personal singlehanded ability to PR and brand themselves; no one is going to seek you out today, unless you have put yourself out there. It just is not going to happen, it isn’t.

  23. @Liz: I’m not blaming anyone. I’m pointing out that if you have job hopped (for whatever reason), the best way to get your next job is not a resume that highlights your job hopping. The best way is to talk to people who do the work you want to do, and to get into their circle.

    As for employers dismissing job hoppers when they review resumes: It’s what they do. Arguing about it doesn’t change how employers behave. Finding another route to the job is what’s called for.

    As for there being fewer jobs than people looking for jobs, check this interesting website run by my buddy Brooke Allen: http://www.noshortageofwork.com

    Think about it: What’s the connection between jobs and work? How do you do work to leverage your job opportunities?

  24. Love how Nick is always pushing the envelope on controversial topics – really gets a dialogue going!

    Re: Job hoppers, resumes, etc. I agree with Nick big-time. For job hoppers (and for anyone else for that matter) the resume is a fairly useless document. (And I say that as a top resume pro!)

    If you are a job hopper (through planning, or economic imperative, or just plain bad luck) by the time you’ve got your resume strategized and tweaked to become a branded marketing message of value, you’ve also created a crutch (and a document that you’ve got to defend at some point). I’m not suggesting you don’t create a resume – at some point someone will insist upon seeing one, but I am suggesting that you NOT lead with one!

    Even if the resume is entirely true (and I would hope it is!) the employer’s immediate focus will likely not be on value, but on chronology. I can’t remember the last time chronology grabbed an interview, can you?

    What would happen, if, as Nick suggests, you bypass the resume altogether and focus on determining your branded value (differentiation and “gotta-have-it” employer-enticing solutions)?

    Once you have that, and once you’ve researched the market and how that value fits, then pitch the heck out of it via real world communications – aka direct contact, intros, etc. Sure that can be scary, but if that stalls you, what are you going to do when you face a problem at work?

    Do your interviews as Nick always suggests — a “do-the-job-to-get-the-job” biz meeting, and if the fit is right, you’ll both know it — and that will substantially reduce the need to move to a new position within a few years as often happens in a “bad fit” situation.

    Add some focused career planning to that scenario — keeping a keen eye on where you want to go and taking only those positions that support your ultimate goal — and even in a tough economy, you’re top-talent with a plan to land.

    Any “hopping” that might remain will be a strategic move that happens on your terms, not from a fickle market. And if you do lose a position, or have to move, you’ll have a story to tell and skills to sell.

    Chronology bows to irresistibility. Be irresistible, not “hoppy.” And if you must be hoppy (from choice or circumstance), you’d better figure out why you are irresistible — and “wanting to learn” from multiple jobs ain’t it!

  25. I second Nick’s endorsement of NSoW – No Shortage of Work. (In fact, it was from Brook’s site that I found Nick’s.)

    I’ve read nearly every entry on that site and on Brooke’s other blogs and I consider him to be very rational and creative. Start with his explanation, entitled “No Shortage of Work? How can that be?” It’s one of those kinds of ideas that is amazingly obvious and true, once somone helps you see it from other than the mainstream perspective.

  26. Hi, all and thanks Nic for your reply and I agree self-efficacy is a very real part of being able to get out there and fight for the jobs. I don’t suggest people take just any job, but on the flip side, if one gets good coaching on interview skills one can reveal a less than desirable short-term stop gap effort to get the boat afloat to a new HR in an interview. It goes right back to premise that getting the interview is a key to finding another job if yours is lost. I worked 21 years and 9 mo. in a factory, had good benefits, vac. union pay–all ended one fine day. I went back to school at 43 and got a master’s degree and a great job, but took a lot of tenaciousess on my part. Nothing is easy, but as a futurist, I can think outside of the box. Sometimes we have to look for our marketable skills, or enhaunce them, and go on an adventure…new genre is not always bad! I have left the factory days behind and like where I am today. I think a lot of people shut-down due to fear when the rug is yanked out from under them and need a coach to help them look for all possibilites in all genres they can consider.

  27. Nick has nailed it with this one. I remember, during the Bubble, a ComputerWorld or InfoWorld front page article about a job hopper, where the reporter bought the guy’s story that this was a brilliant career move. They actually gave his salary at each job – he maybe went up 10% in four years of hopping, which is probably worse than he could have done staying put. I wonder how he did when the bubble collapsed – not very good I expect.

    When I look at resumes and see hopping, I can usually relate the job change to a layoff, and to some extent this is okay. But as a Despair poster says, the common link in all your failed relationships is you. Too many and I think someone won’t trust the judgment of the hopper. Also, I think it is common to let the new and still unproven guy go first.

    I also think that one advantage of not hopping is that you have a built-in network of those who you have worked in and have moved on. They know your work, and can testify to it.

    BTW, I assume you mean no blind resumes, not no resumes. Resumes seem to be a token of commitment to looking for a job. I’d expect to send one – but only after the contact has been made and the person in the new company asks for it.

  28. @Scott: Two very important points in your post:

    1. Too many hops suggest poor judgment. Of course, it could be a string of bad luck. But I suggest people stop looking at this from their perspective and look at it from the employer’s. Like it or not, they hold the money and you want the job. From that position, what do you see? You might take a chance; you might not. But you will make a judgment based on the info you have. That puts the challenge on the job hopper: You must deliver evidence to counter the perception. It’s up to you. That’s my point. Just how good has your judgment been? It matters to an employer.

    2. Likewise, what does job hopping say about your reputation and contacts in your industry? If you have great contacts and hopping is your strategy, then maybe all those folks are helping you achieve it by helping you jump around. If that’s not the case, then how good are you relationships? How’s your rep? It’s reflected in whether or not you can nail down a good job.

    As for resumes, Scott, sometimes I mean no resumes period. Resumes can become a horrible crutch. Want to strengthen your ability to develop personal contacts? Put your resume away for a month. You’re allowed only to talk to people. Try it. (Your rule about no resume until contact has been made and it is fine: In that case the resume is used to fill in the blanks. Just be careful, because that’s also the point where you get dumped into the HR hole and all your effort to that point goes for naught.)

  29. Holy crap, I LOVE what you say about throwing out your resume. I have found them to be a complete waste of time and if you spent all wasted time instead on networking, connecting with people online, going to informational interview through friends of friends it will be much MUCH easier to land a job. Once I figured this out I had a full time position in 2 weeks as opposed to the 3 months I had spent looking the “traditional” way beforehand.

    You made some excellent points here and I’m excited to have come across your blog!

  30. I disagree with the perils of job hopping. The *only* way that I’ve been able to nurture my career is to change jobs/organizations. The situations and reasons vary, but they all lead to the same conclusion, I was in a deadend unless I moved out. In some cases it is that I began doing what I love as *part* of a job and there was no ability to expand that into my full job. Other sitations include project based contracts. A desire to move onto more complex versions of my speciality — not all organizations *need* that approach.

    I think it is short sighted to simply nix “job hopping” out of hand without looking at the history involved. Does the history include increasing responsibility, specialty or complexity? That is a valid job hop. Does the history consist of jobs that are not following a trajectory or vision — I would expect that to be a red flag.

  31. Hi,Kelly

    You make a good point…words are words and is it “job-hopping” or upgrading or a move for career advancement… it depends on circumstances and dynamics… thus networking becomes more effective than a chronilogical resume!

    Create a blessed day,


  32. Hi,

    I agree that there are many more unemployed people than jobs (perhaps 6:1).

    However, there is plenty of work. The problem is that there isn’t enough money to pay for all of it to get done. And making your full-time job looking for full-time job can lead to failure… after all, 5 of 6 aren’t going to succeed.

    That is why I created: http://www.NoShortageOfWork.com

    What is the solution?

    Keep working. I would take part-time paid work over unpaid work. And I would take unpaid work over no work. Work is about work – pay is about money and supply vs. demand.

    I wrote about this for Science Magazine:


    In the early 1980s, I did a lot of short-term projects… but I was not a job-hopper. I incorporated, and I did my work as an employee of my own company. Instead of hopping among a half dozen companies in 5 years, I had a company for 5 years with 6 impressive clients. This is entirely legit – and I was always loyal – I never walked out of an engagement before it was completed. My references were excellent. One client that I had for 3 years became my employer for another 6.

    I believe the most important thing is not what your resume looks like.

    What is important:

    – Your attitude and aptitude (ability to get things done)

    – Your smarts (knowing what are the right things to do)

    – Your reputation – Other people’s opinions of you count. If someone has something negative to say about you, listen… there might be an opportunity in it to get something fixed.

    If you are a good problem solver, then your current employment situation is just one more problem that needs to get solved.

    But if the problem isn’t the economy, but it rests with your attitude, aptitude, smarts, or reputation, then you have some remedial work to do. This isn’t bad news. If you are unemployed, you have the time. Do that work on improving yourself, and you will look back at these times as the most important of your life.

    – Brooke

    PS, No Shortage Of Work is holding a free networking party this coming Monday (5/10) night in NYC. Visit the site for details. Sign up for the newsletter to be updated on future events. Hope to meet you in person on Monday.

  33. NETWORKING PARTY – NYC, Monday, May 10 5:00-9:30 PM.

    I mentioned this in the prior post, but it might have gotten buried.

    This is hosted by:


    The party is free, and open to the public. Visit the web site for details.

  34. I totally agree that a resume is useless, whether a job seeker has been job-hopping or sticking to one employer.

    The reason why I believe that resumes are useless is because most employers will criticize what’s there in your CV. For instance, if you’ve been with one employer for like 10 years, they will say why are you leaving your employer now? Shouldn’t you be loyal to your employer? It shows here that you were promoted three times in 10 years, aren’t you satisfied enough? Or, you’ve not been promoted for the last 10 years with your employer, do you think you are qualified enough for a position at our company? etc, etc…

    Even networking is useless. Why would you spend time, effort, and even money adding strangers to your network?

    Why not go for strong ties instead?

  35. One can “throw away” their resume, but what then if the employer wants one? I was hired because of my resume–it reflected meaningful work in a related fields (experience). A lot of employers are, if you get to the interview, willing to listen to your story about the why and how you have advanced your career and are interested in what jobs you have had in past. I moved 1400+ miles for a job change and my resume was relevant to being interviewed.

    Linda in PA

  36. Ms. Fox you make a valid point that cannot be ignored. I know speaking for myself, I have a lengthy background, with many high profile situations. It would be near impossible to go full steam without a resume to outline it in a logical manner, there is just far too much to cover.

  37. Yeah, many employers ask for and require a resumes as part of the application process. However, I think the point is that too many job seekers require the resume to do all the work. Don’t just send it out with wild abandon – network, meet people, make connections. And then when one of them asks for your resume, hand it over. But don’t expect it to be the magical solution to unemployment, because it’s not.

  38. I work in advertising. Aside from a few shops, the average tenure of most workers at most agencies tops out at about three or four years. So in this industry at least, job-hopping every few years would barely raise anybody’s eyebrows.

  39. @Nic: “It would be near impossible to go full steam without a resume to outline it in a logical manner, there is just far too much to cover.”

    The average time the average manager spends reading a resume is about 30 seconds. So you see the problem. If there is just far too much to cover, we have an even bigger problem.

    Relying on the resume to convey all that information is a fool’s errand, IMHO. Worse, you’re not present to make sure the manager reads it all… so you get rejected and you don’t even know why…

  40. Hi, ALL

    I was taught in Grad school to par down the resume so the HR person gets the highlights of one’s experience without any fluff-i.e., a 30 sec. read. If one gets the interview, the HR or management team are going to ask the things they really want to know about you in that. Also, it is good practice to ask them a tough question too. I asked my CEO/manager, (had to interview with 3 administrative staff who all asked questions). “What is the greatest problem, you as a group face in the near future?” His answer, filling current and future vacancies with qualified and motivated people!”

    SO, my selling point was my proving my motivation to be a team member! CEO took me for a two hour tour of the area,I was told that had never happended before after and iterview, so I guess he really wanted to impress me with the advantages of the Lehigh Valley and his job-offer and that felt good! Still goes back to getting the interview and being able to sell yourself as NIC always points out!


  41. Hi, All

    Just to add, I networked and met the recruiter for the position I now have in LAS VEGAS, so networking was the big piece of the puzzle and you have to go and meet people to find the “hidden” jobs.


  42. @Nick “The average time the average manager spends reading a resume is about 30 seconds.” I have to disagree with you (finally, there is a first for everything.) The manager isn’t going to be the first person to see the resume if sent in (and don’t get me wrong I agree no one should write a book as a resume, however,) the fool’s errand rests on the part of the HR idiot. The one who isn’t talented enough to give a resume a depth of review, and not just a cursory glance …losing potential big talent along the way. A number of very talented men and women have been passed by due to such laziness in the corporate world. If the manager has been given the resume it is highly unlikely that he/she will just glance at it for 30 sec. and move on; at least I wouldn’t.

  43. Nic,

    Very good point, so it seems luck or divine intervention maybe the only factor after all in landing the job one wants! Just kiddin’. Best practice seems to be to utilize all resources in job-search, networking, research the company, targeting the right person to initiate a contact and show interest, to get a foot in the door for an interview is still the biggest hurddle. Any dummy with some self-efficacy and talent can learn to interview, but I am often surprized by how many people need to work on the interview skills and practice before they go into the lion’s den. I work with a lot of people who can just ruin their chances to be hired by freezing up in the interview. Some HR/administrative people are more interested in if the applicant “fits” the team versus talent. If one is talented by socially inept, it can be the death of their chance at the job. Not, I ’cause I am interested in eveyone and good at being at ease with anyone and I have talent for validating people and showing great interest in them versus just me and my needs. (The likeableness factor is what I call this issue). Just muddying the water some more.


  44. Linda,

    You bring up great points. You know I think the “fit” factor is one of the most important issues surrounding overall satisfaction. If the fit is right, and the talent there …the rest will fly. Great points you have put down to consider. Thank you.


  45. Nick wrote:
    As for resumes, Scott, sometimes I mean no resumes period. Resumes can become a horrible crutch. Want to strengthen your ability to develop personal contacts? Put your resume away for a month. You’re allowed only to talk to people. Try it. (Your rule about no resume until contact has been made and it is fine: In that case the resume is used to fill in the blanks. Just be careful, because that’s also the point where you get dumped into the HR hole and all your effort to that point goes for naught.)

    A month? I’ve been doing that for 12 years (in this job.) And it is probably why I don’t need one – when you have very obvious industry contacts, sometimes your bosses assume that you could find a job in an instant, are thus more valuable, and thus worth keeping even in downturns. I figure that if you are doing your job right, there are a lot of people out there who kind of know your resume without having seen it.
    I’ve actually never gotten a job with a resume – somewhere deep inside I don’t think it is possible :)

  46. @Scott… you made my day ;-)

  47. I am not going to beat a dead horse but while that is fine for a single job single career path, or 12 years job path, sure it’s all one has done in one field and contacts swiftly build across firms. It does not always work so simply for multi-level experienced people. I am not saying it cannot. I have done it too. I have been there doing the talk routine and nailed very high profile situations. I am also aware that is a rare thing. What I am saying is just don’t make it look like it works so smoothly for all people, in all cases …so easily.

  48. Hi, Nic

    In my field, VR counselor, I appreciate all and any information and ideas.

    One of the biggest challenges is helping people look at all their jobs and creatively find the “transferable marketable skills” so they can be ready to face reality and go into an interview without that “desperation anxiety” if their career dies and they have to start over in a different genre. I have worked with people with minimal skills that have great confidence–they get the job more frequently than to person who is fearful and who are timid and reticent. Just getting through the trauma of the death of one’s dream is a process. SOmetimes the best support is not the “how to do it” but the support of “you can do it” to create a sense of HOPE. Change is inevitable in most markets today. Displaced workers have to let go of the past and move forward into what is available in the market and put the pieces of the puzzle together–it is unique for each person. I helped a colleague start his own business and he is doing great! I advised him and helped him get a big raise, but he would still be working for a domineering organization that is all about control and abusing the underlings without a creative idea and my pushing him to go for it. Now he is their competition. Stepping out on a limb is a challenge for persons stuck in a rut–which by the way, is just a grave with both ends open.


  49. Nick,

    I agree with your buddy as everything you said benefits the employer while giving little value to the employee. If you don’t want to worry about job hopping offer the person a long term contract or adjust their salary to be competitive in the market. Otherwise you are saying nothing more than, I want you to work long term and be a good employee and give up your liquidity in the labor market but keep the option to let you go at any time. . . sorry but no thanks.


  50. I love a lot of what you say here, but I see Penelope’s side, too. Who the heck ISN’T working for the money? If you’re not in the nonprofit world or an artist, you like a paycheck, right? And the best salary increases always come with a new job, not staying at one where you’ve already shown you will work for less than the new job might offer you.

    Plus, the days of gold watches and pensions are long gone. A friend of mine lost her father last year to a massive heart attack. He was stressed because his employer had decided to lay him off after nearly 30 years of work and had doubled his workload for the last few months before his layoff date. No significant severance was offered. When he died, the company found a technicality and tried to screw his family over on his life insurance. This is a major US company that most readers here will have heard of, but I won’t name it–not because I think they’ll track me down and sue me, but because it’s not about the company, it’s about the modern workplace environment. Loyalty isn’t expected from employers, so why should employees walk loyally right off the dock into shark-infested waters?

    I was laid off from a dot-bomb (love your term) where I had loyally worked unpaid overtime every week and had weeks before my layoff (not a lot of weeks) been told by the CEO personally that he’d give me a raise if he had the budget and that he couldn’t possibly be more satisfied with my performance–and that I had, verbatim, “nothing to worry about” and was “essential to our team.” A week after they laid me off they offered me my job back with a 40% salary cut and more responsibilities tacked on.

    I could keep giving examples, but my point is this: These days, a loyal employee is a stupid employee. If you want a drone who works their 40 hours, gets their paycheck and is happy that way until you later lay them off, hire a loyal person who never job hops. If you want a smart employee who constantly learns more about their job, wants more responsibility, takes on extra work without being asked, and expects to be valued in return, consider the job hoppers–at least, those of them whose past hops have successfully landed them more money and more responsibility, and whose past employers speak of them in glowing tones.

    Further, I found it repulsive that you referred to a fellow writer in your field in such crude and unkind terms. I know you’re a headhunter, but that doesn’t mean you have to embody the worst stereotypes in the field! If I were ever in a position to choose between working with you and Penelope and had only her job hoppers post and your response to base my decision on, I’d pick Penelope in a heartbeat, because she didn’t feel the need to personally insult a colleague in her post.

    Having read other posts on your blog, I know you’re a blunt guy but not an intentionally cruel guy, yet I think this post was out of line and turned a difference of opinion into a personal attack.

    • I agree Lisa, I find Nick’s petulance and ad hominem attacks in this piece distasteful and unbecoming of a guy whose ideas I otherwise respect.

  51. Recent college graduates have a problem… they don’t have experience. They might take short-term projects to make ends meet, but most of the paying jobs don’t teach skills, they require that you hit the ground running.

    In his free on-line e-book titled, The Recession-Proof Graduate, (http://charliehoehn.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/recession-proof-graduate1.pdf), Charlie Hoen suggests grads 1) Get some real skills, 2) Identify prospective employers, 3) Propose that you do short projects for them, for free.

    Your article helps make the case against this tactic… thank you. Such a collection of short projects will just look like job hopping on a resume.

    At Humongous Shortage of Work, (http://www.HumongousShortageOfWork.com), Kotow Shergar explains all the ways Charlie is wrong. And he does it without even wasting his time reading Charlie’s book.

    Now, you too, can avoid wasting your time reading it.

    Thanks for the additional reasons to not work… Lots of different work on your resume will just look bad.


    • Well Len, to quote The Dude, that’s just, like, your opinion, man. In all seriousness, what looks bad to you might look great to someone else. We shouldn’t live our lives in a constant state of anxiety trying to anticipate what someone may or may not like when looking at our resume. Be yourself, and work for people who understand you.

  52. Nick – Take this in the spirit it is intended…F you.

    I’m seen as a “job hopper” according to my resume. This so called hopping? Within the last year a lay off (lost a government contract, damn that deficit), another one that lost their contract to do home appraisals with Bank of America, a job that I was promised would become full time after a month that never did (and therefore had to leave rather than lose the roof over my head), a store that closed just before my one year anniversary because the owner wanted to change careers and didn’t want to bother to sell the place first…

    Because of this, I can now only get phone sales jobs that plan to get rid of who they hire in 90 days or less just as “business as usual” (and so they don’t have to put you on the health insurance).

    But you just keep assuming the worse of people in my position and lose out on getting a good employee who has had to be a “jack of all trades”….just because they’ve had the misfortune of working for a bunch of screw-up employers.

  53. @Kathy: Please read my post again. “Does this mean your career is over? Of course not. I write this blog to help people deal with in-your-face problems, and this is one of them.”

    Career coaches and resume advisers teach people to hide the fact that they’ve bounced around, but it doesn’t work. I made it clear that people jump either of their own volition, or because their employers have screwed them.

    My point is that a new employer won’t see that distinction. That’s the reality. If you march around looking for a new job while pretending someone’s going to “get it” and realize it wasn’t your fault, you’re screwed again.

    I offered two suggestions. I’ll repeat them, because I think you’re so angry that you’re missing the point. Both suggestions are up to you — not to the next employer. You must decide to do something to help yourself.

    1. Forget about resumes. There is no way to hide job hopping. So don’t rely on that dopey piece of paper that screams, “I may be a problem.” Rely instead on developing and using solid personal contacts who will strongly recommend you. Make that your “foot in the door.” Not the resume. A strong referral is more trusted by a manager than a resume. It’s the best way to get over the hump.

    2. Lay down a record of stability. This means, pick the next company carefully. Extra carefully. Your recent experiences may not be your fault, but the system is gonna make you pay for them anyway. So choose thoughtfully. Make sure where you go next will help you establish a credible record.

    You can F me all you want. That doesn’t change the perception of employers. Only you can change that. And crying over your experiences and getting mad at me won’t help. My job is to be pragmatic, and I try to offer concrete suggestions.

    Or you can try to come up with one more clever way to hide your job hopping on your resume.

  54. This is a a highly misleading and opinionated article. I am 33 and into my 6th job with average tenure of 1.5 years. I am proud of it. I have tripled my salary from the first job that I started after graduate school and I have always climbed the ladder to now a Sr. Manager with a major utility. Do not listen to these head hunters people. They and their whole industry is out dated and on verge on elimination.

    No offense Nick, but what does make you an expert on what Managers think ? by the way who are these managers any way ? What is the job of these managers? Isn’t it to maximize their companies profit with decisions that yield the most?, perhaps the correct human capital.
    I am one of those managers that happened to have hired two people in recent past with similar career history as mine, and they are proving to be great. If they decide to leave after some time, good luck to them but while they are here, if they are performing at the level I demand, I am OK with it.

    My advice to people is go for the best and stop listening to these so called “Recruiting” / HR experts. If you have skills, they will hire you. Just remember, the companies will not keep you when they don’t need you either! It goes both ways and We (the real managers) understand that.
    Off course if you are an administrative level person, you don’t have much to market and stay at the job that you have!

    • I was with ya until you crapped on admins in your last paragraph. There are plenty of talented and highly skilled people stuck in admin jobs because of organizational dysfunction, financial hardship, or fuck,
      who knows. Let’s try not to generalize about anyone, be it job hoppers or anyone else

  55. Just to put things into prespective, I was interested in few position, I applied to all of them with my Resume of my job hopping history. Out of these 8, I have recieved 6 calls for interview.

    I was searching for some tips to explain my career in addition to my usual defense lines of skill set etc.

    Generally, I read articles and never respond but this article is so far from the truth, I have to comment.

    Good luck every one !

  56. Corporate-loyalty died a long time ago. If corporate America isn’t willing to take the time/money to re-train their existing employees nor are they willing to hire those who have hopped to acquire those skills, the only option left is to out-source or take on contractors. I think your view is self-serving as it creates demand for your services since it’s harder to find those with tenure that have the necessary experience — enter the head-hunter. I for one say hop and keep hopping as long as it serves your purpose. If there is 1 company that doesn’t like your resume, there are 10,000 more that could care less as long as you have the right experience/skills.

    I agree that personal relationships are more powerful then a resume.

  57. Sadly, thanks to applicant tracking systems and job matching to an idiotic degree, job hopping, however, it happened will make things harder for you. Most hiring managers are idiots. They dont see the advantage of it, even if you make it through the ATS which is not designed to handle real world resumes. I may add that most companies are pretty much the same as each other these days (see ATS) and if you can stick around in one company for a while you might as well. And I am a job hopper. And no, I had no choice but to be one.

  58. Funny how employers expect the world of their employees and potential employees yet offer practically nothing in return. Typically a very small pay check that you have to fight to even get when your supposed to get it. Real easy for a fat *ss know nothing hiring manager to sit at a computer screen and pass judgment on perfectly qualified individuals without ever seeing or speaking to them. Then if your lucky enough to get an interview, the only thing the manager is interested in speaking to you about is your personal hobbies and your personal and social life which is not only irrelevant but none of their business either. The worst part is…you know your not getting the job from the moment you answer the phone and find that the person that could hire you is in fact gayer than gay and your just a little too straight for their liking. Hate my post or not…it’s all 100% true and I could go on and on true story one after another. The point is its always the person submitting the resume that has some sort of problem. Never the employer.

  59. This advice is little more than mental flatulence, directed at a non-existent group of workers. If Nick were to send me his resume and I found this horribly designed, poorly executed website with no awareness of UXD, I’d advise him to look elsewhere. I definitely would take a job hopper who cared enough about design and had the skill to build a decent website. This place is atrocious.

  60. @Jim Slicer: Advice and suggestions about the site welcome. I’m a headhunter and writer. So I keep the site simple.

  61. I hate to admit it, but I’m a job hopper. I started my college years unsure of myself, hated management, had mental health issues, and even when I graduated college, I couldn’t find a job in the field I studied, so I went from one convenient store to another, hoping to get promoted and never did.
    Now, I’ve hit 30 and I realize I’ll never get a decent job or career no matter what I do. I screwed myself over and now,…I’m a worthless piece of shit who doesn’t deserve a job, or a home, or anything because I don’t know how to deal with life or people.
    I’ve hit rock bottom and the worst part is no one gives a damn because I did it to myself. And they shouldn’t care either. I’m 30 and still living at home because I can’t get a job. So, yeah,…job hoppers suck.

  62. Kinda disingenuous to call out Penelope Trunk when you’re treading the same boards, Nick. I generally value your viewpoint and appreciate your deconstructions of shitty hiring practices, but this is an anecdata filled straw man argument that reads like a Sean Hannity rant. I expect better from you, and I’m disappointed to see you using “Crooked Hillary”-type rhetoric to demonize and delegitimize people you disagree with.

    I agree with your prescriptions (stick it out where and when you can and look for work outside of the traditional resume dump using your connections) but your perpetuating the “job hopper” stigma here makes you look like the dum-dums you so entertainingly crap on in other works.

    If you don’t like people who don’t stick it out at organizations (whatever that means, it’s entirely a subjective judgment on the part of the hiring manager anyhow so long as we continue the charade of behavioral interviewing) so be it. It’s good to have an opinion and demonstrate your reasons why you think this demographic is comprised of garbage people. Representing your opinion as the gospel of the high church of hiring managers?
    Sorry brah, not buying it.

    Of course, if this is one of those “write like a Reddit troll with an extreme opinion just to get people riled up in pursuit of page views” things they taught you in your cognitive psych program, well, uh, gross.

    As I said, disappointing and disheartening to read from a guy whose ideas I generally think are great. Hopefully your views on these folks have shifted a bit over the past several years since this was published.

    • @D: “Crooked Hillary-type rhetoric”?

      I wrote this article in 2010. What’s that got to do with Hillary? You’re reaching for what’s not there.

      If you read the article more carefully, you’ll see I’m not trashing people who do short gigs and move on. I’m trashing job hoppers who shotgun their resumes to anyone and everyone, looking for a cheap hit. That’s dum-dum.

      • In some fields like IT job hopping seems to be somewhat normal due to the fact that many of these jobs are contract or temporary and permanent jobs are very hard to come by. Many employers still look down on this. I am not saying it is fair or unfair but perception is reality with people and unfortunately the works of work has changed to the point that many people have to move around constantly.

  63. I agree that the author of this site usually has common sense points, but they often come from a specialized industry and a specific geographical area (E.E.s and the Silicon Valley).What about the accountant, welder, truck driver, or school teacher in the heartland? Back in the day, they used to tell graduate engineers in engineering schools to jump ship every 4-5 years, then find a home and finish out their last 15-20 years at a final employer. Reasons being, to get more diversified skills, and get their salaries up. Engineering, traditionally, starts higher, but not-withstanding cost of living raises, tops out quickly. Considering the nature and disloyalty of most employers today, I’m thoroughly convinced that “monkey branching” is the only way to go. While 3 jobs in 4-6 years is a bit extreme for some employers, I’ve found its not uncommon for younger folks to jump ship every 2-3 years, increase their compensation and skill sets, yet they still get snapped up elsewhere with hiring managers and HR ditzes not even giving it a second thought. Loyalty is a two-way street. All I’ll give any employer is integrity and a good faith effort.

  64. OMG, you sound kinda agressive, typical ‘Murrican.