With tens (sometimes hundreds) of candidates applying for a single job opening, hiring managers must have selection criteria for who gets a job interview. There are lots of ways to weed out candidates, but one of the easiest ways is to identify and disqualify a job hopper.

What is a job hopper?

For those of you who may not be familiar with the term, job hopping is when you have a series of jobs that last for short periods of time (1-2 years). When a hiring manager sees a laundry list of jobs on your resume, it’s easy for them to assume that 1. you get fired from lots of jobs, or 2. you leave jobs because you’re not engaged in the work you’re doing. Whatever the case may be, when a hiring manager gets a resume from a job hopper, it screams “DO NOT HIRE THIS PERSON UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!”

Here are the top signs that you’re a job hopper*.

  • You have had more than 5 jobs, at more than 2 companies, in a 7 year period of time.
  • You haven’t spent more than a year in the same role.
  • You don’t have business results to show for your work.
  • You’re applying for jobs that are outside of your specialty or experience.
  • You find yourself looking for a new job after being in your role for less than 3 months.
  • Your resume is full of job titles that do not show growth or progression.

If you just read that list and you’re thinking, oh shit, no one is ever going to hire me! Don’t panic. There is a way to edit your resume so that you look less like a job hopper and more like a ladder climber. A ladder climber is someone who may also have a lengthy resume, but the difference is that their resume clearly shows that they can stick with a job for a long period of time and they’re progressing in their career.

If your resume makes you look more like a job hopper than a ladder climber, here’s what to do.

How to fix a job hopper resume

  1. Remove any job on your resume that doesn’t line up with the job you’re applying for. For example, if the job you’re applying for is a financial analyst position, your first job out of college as a social media specialist should come off your resume. The same is true for any job you had in high school or any internship experience that has nothing to do with finance.
  2. Make sure that your resume shows career progression. If you’ve had several jobs in finance but all of them only lasted a year or so, be sure that your bullet points explain the skills you developed and the results you achieved for each one of those jobs. Do not just list your responsibilities, you must also include your results. The more you tailor the bullet points under each of your positions, the easier it will be for the hiring manager to connect the dots and consider you a qualified candidate.
  3. Consider staying longer in your current job. If you’ve been in your job for less than two years, show that you’re capable of holding a position and delivering results by sticking with it. If the financial analyst job description is asking for more than 3 years of experience, the person who wrote it likely didn’t mean three years of experience pieced together from five different jobs. Do you meet the qualifications they’re asking for? Technically yes. Will you be the best candidate? Probably not. Try to stay a little longer when times get tough, it may help you in the long run.

Job hoppers usually don’t know what they’re good at or what they want to do, so instead of sticking it out, they move around. That may seem like the best option when you’re knee-deep in a shitty job, but I assure you, career job hopping is hurting you and it’s time to break the cycle.

*This term does not apply to freelancers and contract employees.

**Not every ladder climber is climbing their way to the top. My definition of ladder climber is someone who is taking steps to get to what’s next in their career. That could mean taking on more responsibilities, or challenging themselves to do something else. It doesn’t necessarily mean that their title reflects senior leadership, it just means that they’re progressing in some way.