This piece is a part of ‘The Career Strategist’ blog series
Hiring managers are looking for candidates who exhibit two qualities: ability and consistency. When I say ability, I mean that they can see the candidate has either performed the work listed in the job description before or they show the aptitude to perform this work based on what work they have done and what skills they have. So, what do I mean by consistency?
When jobseekers are new to the job market or have pivoted in their career, they may only have short-term experiences on their résumés. These jobs can include internships, contracted work lasting less than a year, part-time or even volunteer work. While these can be great ways to get your foot in the door, the hope is that candidates will be able to switch to full-time work in the long-term. Hiring managers in tech are looking for candidates who have worked at the same company for at least a year (ideally more), depending on what type of company the candidate is applying to and how far along they are in their career. That’s what I mean by having consistent work experience.
Job hopping is having a series of short-term gigs that last less than a year each. It isn’t ideal in the eyes of hiring managers because it can show a lack of loyalty, ability, or professionalism. A candidate who works at a company for only a year before jumping to the next one won’t seem very loyal to the company they’re interviewing with. Why should they invest time and resources into an employee who will only stick around for nine months, when the expectation is at least a year and a half or two years? Besides showing a lack of company loyalty, job hoppers may give the appearance of just trying to accumulate higher and higher job titles and salaries. Companies generally want employees to share their mission and goals, and exclusively working for the professional and monetary rewards may clash with their values.
Moreover, job hopping may create questions about the candidate’s ability to do their job well and their overall professionalism. Was this candidate let go because they didn’t have the skills they claimed to have while they were interviewing? Did they embellish the information on their résumé or job application? Maybe this candidate isn’t very professional -- they fail to show up on time or are difficult to work with… a lot of questions can emerge from having an inconsistent work history!
After landing a new job, try to stick around for at least a year and ideally two. If it’s a good fit in terms of tech stack, company size, and company culture, show that you’re a good employee that completes the projects you’re assigned and then some. Get involved with or start your own employee resource groups, volunteer to host social events for your team, or work cross-functionally on new initiatives. If you’re getting bored, learn new skills with your company’s education stipend and put them to use with new projects. If you generally don’t like staying at the same company for a while, consider working with a contract or staffing agency, or do freelance work, where your projects are shorter and more flexible.
If you're still extremely unhappy at a company, don't feel trapped. Working at a company for less than a year isn't ideal, but as long as it's not a pattern, it shouldn't affect your long-term career. When you are applying for a new role, be ready to succinctly explain why you chose to leave a company early, should that be a question posed by the interviewers.