Stay far away from the Résumé Killer: Why job-hopping isn’t for you

by Ryan Krumroy
Senior Associate Recruiter at Charles Aris Inc.

Now a decade into the world of executive search, it is impossible for me to know how many people I have spoken with, résumés I’ve received, LinkedIn profiles I’ve reviewed or referrals I’ve considered.

I often think back to some sage advice my father gave me back in 1997. He told me that while I needed to make a wise choice on my first job out of school, it was unlikely that I would want to spend the rest of my career with that organization.

He also told me, however, to make sure that I stayed there long enough to get some applicable experience. In other words, plan on spending at least a couple years gaining knowledge in the trenches, working through challenges and difficulties, and building a sound work ethic whether I liked the job or not.

After eight years, I decided to leave my first employer and join Charles Aris Inc., the retained executive search firm where I’ve been serving client organizations and top-notch candidates for 10 years now.

In that time – a span in which I read many a profile and résumé – I came to realize that the biggest credibility killer is job-hopping. I don’t care if you are an I.T. programmer or a CPA, a VP of Sales or an R&D scientist: The reality is that when hiring authorities look at your résumé and see eight employers over 15 years, they often see damaged goods – whether that’s in fact the case or not. As a result, when I see such circumstances as a recruiter searching for top talent on behalf of those same hiring authorities, I must first ask myself, “Should I be concerned about presenting this candidate to my client?”

Oftentimes, there are extenuating circumstances or unfortunate developments out of the candidate’s control. But each of us usually gets just one or two free passes during our professional career – which makes us responsible for the rest of our career arc. It’s safe to say that my clients don’t pay me to find candidates on whose behalf I must explain a litany of reasons for short tenures with previous employers. They pay me, instead, to identify and land candidates who don’t have “risk” written all over their résumés.

Keep in mind: Demonstrating intentionality is powerful. The most successful individuals tend to be those who find a way to make things happen, almost regardless of circumstance. They are also the ones who often plan out their goals.

With others, conversely, job-hopping appears to demonstrate that getting a job is more important than creating a career. It seemingly points to little leverage and, worse yet, little perceived value among hiring authorities and professional peers.

So for those of you who have children bound for college or deciding on their first job, or if you yourself have worked too many jobs and yet find yourself wanting to jump ship again, I strongly advise you: Think this thing through. Encourage others not to harm their careers – and take care of your brand too.