No job for life? How a tailored approach to job-hopping can win your next career move

When I was growing up, my Dad would extol the benefits of a “reliable, steady job” – preferably in a large company that offered reams of benefits to long-serving staff members.   

These were the tail-end of times when you could still expect to get a job for life, even if you didn’t actually want one.  Despite Dad’s best efforts I didn’t, so I job-hopped my way through my customer services-turned HR career, before finally settling on the “unreliable, unsteady job” of freelance writer. 

These days, I’ve noticed that a lot of my CV clients also have ‘job-hopping’ backgrounds.  Every day I review hastily-written original CVs that tell stories about talented people who don’t want to compromise on finding their perfect work or the best place to do their work in, so they’d been through a lot of different jobs in different companies to find it.

A lot of these people, like me, had had it drummed into them from an early age that they needed a stable and reliable career…so they automatically believed their peppered backgrounds would put them at a disadvantage.

Well, I won’t lie – it can.  You can’t control the individual preferences of the people who will read your CV, after all.  But years of recruiting experience has taught me that a stable career path can be just as off-putting to some employers, and that crafting a good personal pitch starts with packaging up your skills and experience well – no matter how you came by them.

For example, if you’ve had lots of different jobs, it stands to reason that you’ll have experienced many different ways of working and worked alongside many different types of people.  This means you’ll have had to be adaptable, quick to pick up new skills and working practices, and made yourself at least slightly personable along the way.  I can’t think of many workplaces where these three qualities wouldn’t have been an immediate asset.

Your next task is to make the right kind of approach.  For example, I met with two very different CV clients this week.  One of them was a retail manager who had been with the same organisation and worked his way up for the past 20 years; the other an IT manager who had also been a bar manager, a professional tailor and a sales recruiter.

Clearly, the two finished CVs need to be very different – but they also need to be put in front of the right people.  The IT manager probably won’t get much of a response from a traditional recruitment agency or a large corporation with their rigid person specifications, but he might if he sent his CV to smaller employers, constantly in need of energetic people who can quickly muck in and pick up the pace.

If you’re looking for your next big career move, think about how you can best package up your own skills and experience…and if you can’t, contact me for some help!