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How to explain why you’ve had so many jobs

Job Hopping

The evolution of employment. 20 or 30 years ago, it was easy to manage your career. You got one secure job, and you kept it. But now, we are in a crazy and tumultuous period where keeping the same job for years is a losing strategy. You forget how to market yourself, how to spot business pain around you and how to bob and weave – which is a big disadvantage when you inevitably find yourself in the job market again.

Nowadays, the general ethos surrounding careers is totally different. We know that we have to keep moving, and that we can’t stay stuck in the same place for years and years. Of course, this then leaves you with a new problem…
How do you explain to employers why you’ve had so many jobs?

The first place you’re going to have to explain your career history is your CV, along with your LinkedIn profile – both of which should read exactly the same, as in the modern world we live in, it’s likely that both will be checked by prospective employers or recruiters. This is your first impression, and you want it to be a good one. By making both profiles read the same, you are giving the initial impression of organisation and logical thinking – qualities that are very important to the architectural industry.

It is also very rare that I come across a CV that actually explains that candidate’s changes in employment, and yet this is one of the first questions an employer will raise; particularly if your CV is job-hopper-esque! Don’t wait for a job interview to clear up any confusion about why you left one or several jobs after a short period of time – you won’t get that interview if the employer is scared off by multiple changes in your career history! All it takes is to include a brief sentence below your respective job titles, duties and projects to say why that particular role came to an end. For example:

Jun 2015 – House Architects.
Dec 2016 www.housearchitects.com
Project Architect

Private Residence, Holland Park, £2m
Internal & External Refurbishment
Project Leader, RIBA Stages A-L

Reason for leaving: short term contract opportunity. Projects came to an end and no further work taken on.

There is no shame in having lots of jobs on your resume, but since a lot of people see frequent job changes as a negative thing, the more explanation you can provide for those changes, the better.

‘Job-hopping’ is especially common in the architectural or construction industries, as these areas were hit extremely hard by the recession and a lot of genuinely talented people ended up having to fend for themselves by taking short term contract roles or freelancing until the economic climate began to improve. In this case, if you have a lot of short-term jobs in a row, I would advise you bundle them together under the same heading, for example:

Jun 2014 –Present – Contracting Various

 House Architects www.housearchitects.com – Project Architect
Private Residence, Holland Park, £2m
Internal & External Refurbishment
Project Leader, RIBA Stages A-L

 Job Architects www.jobarchitects.com – Project Architect
Skyhook Theatre, London, £3m
New build scheme Feasibility Study,
Design development and Planning Application

 ARC Architects www.arcarchitects.com – Project Architect
New housing development, £45m
New build housing development Feasibility study,
concept design, design development, client presentations,
planning applications

Don’t split several short-term jobs out in to different time periods of employment in your resume, as it makes things very difficult for the reader to follow and sets off alarms in the reader’s head. It might also be worth mentioning here that gaps in employment sets off alarm bells too, so even if you’ve had a gap, it’s well worth putting down the reason. For example:

May 2010 – May 2011 Travelling

In a job interview, if you’re asked the question “why did you leave so many jobs so quickly?” don’t try to give a blanket answer. The question comes from a suspicious place, so don’t dignify that person with an attempt at an answer. Instead, pick one of the roles that may be making your interviewer nervous (perhaps your shortest-term role) and explain it, breezily and non-defensively.

Almost every job-seeker has some aspect of his or her background or presentation that he or she doesn’t feel as secure about as the rest of the package. If your insecurity is the fact that you’ve worked at a lot of different places, keep this in mind.

No matter what your resume might look like, there will always be people who won’t like it, so it’s important to remember that you can’t please everyone. Don’t take this as a personal criticism – there are plenty of other employers who will see your talent and value it!

Remember this: only the people who get you deserve you!

If you’re looking for a new role in the architectural industry, or for more advice on how to prepare yourself for your search, get in touch with one of our highly experienced team at Hunter Dunning on 01243 779789.

About me:
I am the Managing Director of Hunter Dunning Ltd, specialising in the recruitment of architectural and interior design professionals throughout the UK.  Feel free to get in touch if you are considering a move in the future, we would love to hear from you.