Job hopping vs compelling reasons to leave a job
July 28, 2010 6:48 PM   Subscribe

How does this really look to hiring managers?

My husband has had approximately 10 jobs in ten years, with his current job being the longest time spent in with one company (2 years). Long term, he has plans to apply and join a police department on the east coast; however, we don't live there yet and probably won't until at least another year or so (still saving the cash to move).

In the meantime, at his current job, he:
-Does not have a regular shift (varies between day, swing, night shifts; each shift anywhere between 4-12 hours)
-Sometimes doesn't know that he will get a shift until an hour or two before the shift starts (putting him in constant limbo/waiting-mode in hopes of getting 40hrs)
-Sometimes doesn't get 40hrs/week for multiple weeks in a row

-Without his full paycheck (this month, for example, he is short a week's worth of hours), it delays our move to start his career
-Without a regular schedule, he can't get a 2nd gig to fill in the income gaps.

When he started this job, he had a guaranteed 40 hours and a regular schedule, but has since been shuffled around into this situation. He has been playing along like this for more than a year, waiting and waiting for a permanent/regular schedule/shift (which never materializes).

I feel that these are compelling reasons to leave his current position and apply for something else that helps us save. But I understand his side of the story: "I've had too many jobs in my job history, and I need to show some job stability, despite the crappy situation."

He is frustrated and unhappy. Is showing the commitment to this job worth the frustration (in terms of his future career/evaluation of his resume)?
posted by amylicious to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Why did he leave each of the last ten jobs? Were any of them noticeably less than a year (like, a month?) How old is he? What's standard in this industry (is this sales, security, retail sales, etc.?). Does he have a degree or certification obtained recently?

Bearing in mind that it's a buyer's market, it's my experience that hiring managers are thinking about the above when presented with this sort of history. I graduated at 26 with gaps and fascinating retail/admin stories; I was hired for my current stable job a year later, after sending out about 50 applications and doing three interviews. I suspect the degree, my age, and a couple of long-term temp jobs assuaged any fears about my flakiness. I had no luck as a one-class-short applicant before that - temp places were the only takers. This was about 2 years ago; we hired a total of two people within the next 18 months, so I know it wasn't a casual hire for them. Admittedly, I interview really well. Maybe the 47 non-interviews were too worried?
posted by SMPA at 7:05 PM on July 28, 2010

A nearby jurisdiction (Fairfax county, VA) has drastically cut back on hiring of Police Officers. A friend has passed all the requirements as have several hundred others. The County will hire 30 for training. Not an encouraging thing for prospective employment.

Perhaps you know of a jurisdiction that is not cutting back.
posted by JayRwv at 7:10 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've been on both sides of the table here: hiring manager, and during one 18 month stint, 5 job changes, all driven by mergers & acquisitions in a rapidly consolidating industry. With my hiring manager hat on here, the risk is that it is expensive, both in direct and indirect costs, to bring someone new on, so if you see a history of job hopping, you are asking yourself what is going to be different this time.

If your husband can make it through the initial screen and tell his story, he might be able to mitigate it, but it will come up in an interview. He is going to have to really work on his resume to make it to that interview to have an opportunity. When I had my 18 month/5 job stint, I ended up putting something like "Company was acquired by XYZ in a stock swap merger" in bold face at the bottom of each paragraph to try and send that signal.

I've got no idea how a police department would view this (for the one year out situation), but whether he turns this into a three year job or gets an eleventh job for the last year, my reaction as a hiring manager would be the same: "so tell me about the job switches here..."
posted by kovacs at 7:19 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

It depends on the field and context, really. My dad was a contract programmer in the 80s and 90s and his resume was better called a CV or book. Ten jobs in ten years sounded about right. I'm kinda guessing, with no background or grounding in the subject, that security guards have a similar story. The odd hours, and client contracting, and insecurity you've mentioned.

So it depends less on specific personal behavior and more on how that compares with others in the same job title, and local economic conditions. 10 jobs in a declining rural town where companies are folding every year doesn't seem so bad.
posted by pwnguin at 11:53 PM on July 28, 2010

If he left that job for a better job but included something like "continued to work for client during holiday rush," that would help -- something to show that he left on good terms and continued to be available to them. He could take a second job and keep both on the resume. Even if the first job went down to very part-time (e.g., two weekends/month), he could probably still include it in his dates of employment there.
posted by salvia at 12:11 AM on July 29, 2010

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