Job hopping and resume gaps - how to interview

by Joe Opaleski

The Great Resignation, a nickname for the period in 2020 and 2021 where resignation rates spiked in the U.S., is having a lasting impact on workplace culture and talent acquisition.

Specifically, some who pursued new opportunities in this period have struggled in their new roles and are leaving only months after starting. As a result, many are now grappling with how to explain resume gaps and shorter-than-average employment periods to hiring authorities at new organizations.

While a recent poll claims only one in five Americans who quit in this time period actually regret the decision, those who “job hopped” shortly after are having to rethink their application strategies to stay in competition for new opportunities.

Greg Harper, vice president and practice leader at Charles Aris, says jumping from job to job is often a red flag for his clients. Although, for the right person, there are steps both parties can take to get past initial hesitancy and interview accordingly.

“[As a hiring authority], you have to dig in on why that person left in such short order and [also] dig in on references to support that,” Harper explained. He added that candidates must be able to provide well-meaning contacts at their former companies, no matter how briefly they worked together. If a candidate can provide detailed reasoning on why they left, it’s not always a dealbreaker.

Harper says he spoke with one executive who switched jobs during the Great Resignation expecting more responsibility and a higher salary. Upon starting their new position, they realized the role came with less responsibility, and left the new organization despite its above-average compensation package.

When seeking new opportunities and conducting due diligence on what will be expected of them in a potential role, Harper says “the onus falls on the candidate” to make sure they fully understand what the position will entail before signing an offer.

With many interviews now conducted over Zoom and other virtual teleconferencing applications, subtle aspects of new opportunities, like company culture, may not come across as clearly as they would during in-person meetings. Taking the time to ask client organizations robust questions and meeting with other employees outside of the hiring team, if possible, are some of the ways candidates can learn more about an organization before joining.

While the Great Resignation is an ongoing trend that workers and hiring authorities are tackling across industries, Harper says candidates should be open, honest and professional when taking the time to research new opportunities. They should also be candid about prior career moves that may stand out to employers, if they plan on staying competitive for new ones.