We continue the discussion about common red flags in resumes that often call into question the commitment, reliability or performance of a candidate, particularly if assumptions are allowed to form without discussion. Short stints in multiple workplaces or unplanned departures on your resume can set alarm bells ringing in a hiring manager’s ears.

Job Hopping 
Candidates who have had multiple jobs over a short period of time can raise serious concerns with interviewers, who may question whether this candidate would struggle to sustain a commitment to a single role or organization, or question whether it may signify that the candidate has had a history of chronic performance issues? Either of these can make an employer wary about taking a chance on you, regardless of your qualifications. Especially for roles in which it can take six months or longer for an employee to fully ramp up in their new role, the employer may worry they’ll be short-changed if you end up leaving after a brief tenure.

If you have hopped between multiple positions, you should pre-empt your interviewer’s concern. If for example, you recognised you had made a bad career choice and resigned to follow a different career path, being honest and transparent about it will put you in much better light than ignoring it.

Don’t ignore the positives that can come from such experiences. You may be able to demonstrate learning and professional growth as a result of working alongside different leadership styles and/or exposure across different types of organisations.

The length of time in a role is sometimes a poor indicator of achievements. Emphasise any success you have had over your time in the role.

Unplanned or Involuntary Departures.

Hiring managers generally prefer candidates who are currently employed, and will likely assume that a strong candidate wouldn’t leave their previous role without a new position lined up. Given this, if a prospective employer sees from your resume that you’ve recently left a role, they will likely ask you about the circumstances surrounding your departure. Whether you resigned, were laid off, or fired, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind when thinking about how you’ll explain the situation:-

  • Instead of focusing on the problems with your last position, do the difficult work of finding the positive aspects of your experience with your former employer: What did you learn? What relationships did you build? What goals did you accomplish?
  • Reflect on the environments in which you thrive — i.e., a high-growth company, a focus on innovation, a faster pace. Articulate these needs to your prospective employer, and they will read between the lines that the prior organization did not support you in these ways.
  • If you were fired, address it head on. Prepare a concise response to explain why you left — i.e., the company/environment/role was not the right fit, there was a change in leadership or direction that changed expectations/dynamics, etc.
  • Emphasize the lessons you learned from your time in the role and how they’ve contributed to your professional development.

Candidates whose job histories include long periods of unemployment, short stints, or unplanned departures must take the initiative, presenting themselves both positively and honestly. Such an approach will go a long way to overcoming negative perceptions resulting from avoiding these issues.

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Belinda Chung - Agribusiness Recruiting - Agricultural Appointments


The Pro's Guide To Recruiting For Agribusiness Jobs