I'm 21, and until recently, I'd worked five different jobs for an average of three months each. Feeling guilty every time I handed in my resignation letter, it seemed like I was the poster child of red flags in the eyes of hiring managers. In my head, they would mutter: "She's not a good investment because she's young and has no concept of loyalty."
It wasn't as if I applied for each job with the goal of leaving, but after a few months in each position, I felt burnt out and stuck. Don't get me wrong: my bosses were great—it was me that wasn't compatible.
After being hired for my sixth job, where I am now, I couldn't help asking my manager why he chose me. My resume was wonky and peppered with random positions and skills mostly unrelated to the company.
Imagine my shock when he told me that my main selling point was job-hopping.
Job-hopping might seem like a red flag, but it's evolving into a green light
Job-hopping might feel like a serious red flag if you're the job-hopper in question, but it's becoming fairly standard—and even common practice—among Gen Z'ers who leverage the high demand for employees to earn a better living and develop new skills.
My current manager explained that working at five different places with varying roles meant that I'd likely picked up skills and contacts from each experience—and the variety in my work showed that I was up for a challenge.
So instead of feeling guilty about it, I started thinking about what I learned from each position.
The pastry kitchen. This was my first job, and in addition to culinary arts, I learned teamwork and time management. A fruit tart would pass through the hands of at least five people before it was my turn to slice off the inedible bit of kiwi and then shape the fruit slices onto the base. And if I was even seconds late to a table, customers and my boss would be unhappy.
The school. After the pastry kitchen, I thought teaching English was my calling. I taught at three different schools in Taiwan, and I improved my communication skills, having to adapt to students, parents, and colleagues alike.
The entertainment company. I love theater, so I was excited to help with everything from scriptwriting to liaising with the actors and actresses. I learned all sorts of skills: video editing, translation, and how to deal with difficult people (see: actors and actresses).
The post office. Tired of hopping, I decided to try a more "neutral" job to figure out my career path. The main skill I picked up there was customer service.
The bar. I took up a bartending job in Taiwan, where I had my hands in all sorts of tasks, including running the social media accounts. I refined my interpersonal skills and got a behind-the-scenes look at what it means to run a business.
My current title at Resume Genius is Digital Marketing Coordinator. The work is versatile, covering social media, outreach, content creation, and more. I actually just made a GIPHY account to post work-related memes, so you know I've landed the dream job.
Every day, I apply the transferable skills developed during my short stints at different jobs. And when doing outreach, I've had a long list of work-related contacts, which has helped create more opportunities for professional partnerships.
Without job-hopping, I wouldn't be sitting here writing this article. I've made it past the three-month point with Resume Genius, and I haven't felt the urge to up and leave. I have to admit, it's a refreshing change.
What to consider before job-hopping
While job-hopping has its benefits, I want to be clear that it's not the best idea for everyone, all the time. For starters, it takes some time to gauge if a company and position is the right fit for you. Most companies have an onboarding period for you to learn how to fulfill your role and get used to the pace and environment, and things like forming strong professional relationships and building trust with coworkers can take even longer.
And of course, companies put a lot of resources into hiring and training, so if you leave a job, you'll need to have concrete reasons—or risk leaving on bad terms.
So although I clearly approve of job-hopping, I still spent a lot of time considering the pros and cons of quitting each time I did. Was I really making the best decision for myself? Here are some things you should consider before you hand in your resignation letter.
The job market. To create a safety net, do some research and make sure that there's demand on the job market for what you want to do. With The Great Resignation in full force, it can be tempting to assume that you'll be able to find a new job—but that's not always the case, depending on your niche.
Your mental health. Finding a place you feel happy is something you should hold onto. You might be feeling the itch for something new, but you need to dig deep and figure out if it's just an itch or if it's unhappiness. Don't jump the gun just because you get antsy; but don't stay forever just because you're comfortable.
Money. On the one hand, don't assume you'll be able to get the same salary at another company. On the other hand, it's possible you'll be able to leverage a higher salary at a new job while a massive jump in salary is unlikely at your current role. The only way to know for sure what's available is to do a few first-round interviews and ask about the salary and benefits for those roles.
Promotions. Building trust and demonstrating competence takes time. You're less likely to be promoted if you job-hop, which means you might just continue hopping laterally. That's not necessarily a bad thing; it's just something to be aware of.
How to overcome job-hopping on a resume
While perceptions are changing, job-hopping is rightfully still a cause of concern to many hiring managers. There are two main things you can do to deal with the issue when you're applying for jobs:
Address it head when you write your cover letter. Employers will notice, so there's no reason to hide it—instead, embrace it, and explain why you left each job and what you gained from the experience. This will help showcase your adaptability and willingness to learn, and will present your job-hopping as a strength instead of a weakness.
On your resume, include the relevant and most transferable job skills you've gained from each job. Be specific, and focus on the skills that will be most relevant for the job you're applying to.
Job-hopping isn't the taboo it used to be. It's still important to think before you quit, but if you know you can grow mentally and financially in a different position and environment, don't be afraid to make the leap. I'd still be beheading kiwis (it's not as appealing as it sounds) if I didn't have the courage to search for a role that suited me better.
Good luck to all of you, from an ex-job-hopper! I hope you find a job worth sticking around for.
This was a guest post from Chloe Chioy, Digital Marketing Coordinator and Resume Expert at Resume Genius. Resume Genius has been helping job seekers land interviews and jobs since 2009. They provide resume and cover letter templates, samples, and writing walkthroughs, as well as resume and cover letter builder software. Want to see your work on the Zapier blog? Read our guidelines, and get in touch.