So…You’ve Had 5 Jobs in the Last 7 Years? Now What?

So…You have hopped around from job to job and your resume looks choppy at best. Now what? Our office receives hundreds of unsolicited resumes a month from candidates across multiple industries in every region of the country. What amazes me are the resumes we review that have job after job after job (OK you get the point) that seem to last a few months – or (maybe) just over a year – if you’re lucky.

In many industries those resumes will get a quick review and then filed away (or not). It’s really hard to explain if you’ve had a ton of jobs in a very short time and it clearly dilutes your chances of being considered for a new role if it’s based on your resume alone. Is it you, your personality, non-performance or is it pure circumstance that led you to hop from one job to another?   It’s your job to make sure you have an explanation for every hop and a way to validate how you added value along the way.  Certainly, someone can vouch for you and help explain part of the reason for your serial job-hopping. Well I hope so!

Here’s the good news. In HCIT there will soon be a shortage of qualified workers and demand will outstrip the supply of people who know how to spell healthcare. You may finally get a break. Yes – I’m talking to you Mr. or Ms. Job-Hopper. Your lucky day could be just around the corner and you may get a chance to redeem yourself and rebuild your resume with good tenure while picking up more experience. All good. However, it will ONLY be good if you figure out how to stay put for a few years. Yes – don’t leave. Make a commitment to stick it out and become one of the top 10% of all employees in the company. That’s how you change the rules of the game. If you are able to achieve that goal you won’t have to worry (as much) about applying for a new role later on. Your phone will be ringing off the hook with opportunity after opportunity. As long as you stick it out and become a top performer.

There are ways to repair your resume just like your credit report. It takes a commitment to become the best employee possible and to stay a bit longer. You may not get another chance like this. So do me a favor. Don’t blow it!

About the author


Tim Tolan

Tim Tolan is the Senior Partner of the Healthcare IT and Services Practice of Sanford Rose Associates. He has conducted searches for CEOs, presidents, senior vice presidents, vice presidents of business development, product development and sales. Tim is also the co-author of "The CEO’s Guide to Talent Acquisition – Finding Talent Your Competitors Overlook," available on Amazon.


  • Hi Tim – Great post! It is always valuable to “get in the mind” of great recruiters like you. As a hiring manager, I have found that I have to be more open to Mr/Ms job hopper because even though they might have wanted to be loyal, there are not many companies that return or deserve that loyalty, especially public companies in HC IT. Thanks again!

  • I’d suggest that resume screeners, higher level recruiters and ultimate hiring authorities consider the job-hopping re(source) timeline you’re reviewing – and the reason for their departure.

    I’d suggest that ‘job hoppers’ who don’t provide a concise reason for EVERY job they’ve ever held are themselves a disservice.


  • I think many employers will have no choice and will not be able to “pass” on “hoppers” once the talent shortage kicks into high gear. There are always stories on why an employee leaves. In some cases – multiple stories depending on the number of “hops” in a candidate’s job history. However, I still think once an employee finds a great employer that has a great culture – they should try to stay put for a while. If you are a career serial hopper you somehow lose any competitive advantage you have based on tenure alone. It sort of “is what it is”. Thanks Joe!

  • I agree. There is always “a story” and I for one, want to hear it in (vivid) detail. I recently interviewed a candidate who had 4 jobs in 6 years and this was a very smart guy! He walked thru his resume and told me why he went to each company. As it turned out, the experience he gained from each hop made him more valuable from the domain knowledge he gained along the way. Like I said – there is always a story if you dig deep enough.

  • And now…8 months later from my last post…

    What about someone who’s been ‘happily employed’ at one of those large, quasi-governmental, Big Blue Cross- type of places for near 10 to 16 years and just recently layed off?

    What’s their value impression to hiring decision-makers in this end of 2010 market?

    They have been steady for a long time..

    1. Skills with large company pathways and politics.
    2. Legacy application knowledge.
    3. Deep roots.
    4. Not gonna run real soon?

    I know a few who’ve just been layed from a large HC org…sorta sad…

    Wish I could help them out…

  • This type of candidate (assuming they have strong application, IT or business skills) is very much in demand. I’d suggest a payer facing vendor – they always seem to be looking for great candidates with a payer background. As an example – We are looking (right now) for a candidate with payer experience in fraud and abuse for one of our clients. We have multiple payer/vendor clients that always seem to be looking for great people despite the economic climate – as payer domain knowledge is not easy to find.

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