There's no denying that job hopping is popular among Generation Y (aka the Millennials). About 91 percent of this age group are likely to leave their job in less than three years, according to the "Multiple Generations @ Work" survey by the Future Workplace.
While job hopping aimlessly is never a good idea, there are many good reasons to leave a job, says Lindsey Pollak, best-selling author, keynote speaker, and expert on next-generation career and workplace trends. "For instance, I do think it's appropriate to leave a job if you have an abusive boss, if you feel there is absolutely zero opportunity for learning or advancement, or if you have strong reason to believe you will be more fulfilled and better compensated someplace else," she says.
The problem is that some employers have strong reservations after seeing a resume with multiple jobs in the span of three years. Job hopping is commonly associated with disloyalty, fickleness, and unreliability.
However, if you can genuinely communicate your loyalty to your true passion in both your cover letter and interview before an employer can even raise an eyebrow, you can use job hopping in your favor. Consider these tactics to overcome misconceptions:
1. Express your passion. Above all, remember "to hop with reservation—don't constantly leave jobs because you're bored," says Sarah Piper-Goldberg, head of fun at DoSomething.org. Try and get a grip about what you really want to achieve before you hop to another job.
Employers can be amazing detectives when it comes to seeing through lackluster cover letters and interviews. In fact, when Piper-Goldberg interviews folks for her organization, she mainly looks for passion. "I know that everyone wants a job, that's why we receive hundreds of applications for every job we post," she says. "I want to know why you want the job, not just so you can add it to your resume, but why are you truly passionate about working with us?" Make the answer to this question loud and clear both in your cover letter and interview.
2. Be choosy on your resume. If you have a ton of jobs under your belt, don't feel pressured to include all of them, especially if there aren't many large gaps between them. "Better to include fewer experiences that created a greater impact than several engagements that had little leave-behind," Piper-Goldberg says. "Keep resumes short and sweet, and only include the things that really make you stand out."
3. Readily explain what you've learned. The best way to justify previous job hopping is to highlight the most important lessons, skills, and expertise you gained from each experience. Talk about how those helped shape who you are and your goals. "If you are able to show that you were dedicated to the job and you learned something new each time, you will seem accomplished, experienced, and excited to innovate in this next position," Piper-Goldberg says.
4. Be clear about why this role is right for you. After you have clarified your goals and explained what you've learned, it's time to relieve your interviewer's apprehension about you. Don't let them wonder whether or not you're in for the long haul or if you're just in it to quit it. Relate all of your experience back to the role and company at hand. Research their company culture beforehand and talk about how you believe you would be a great fit.
Above all: Make it clear that you are, in fact, looking for a company where you can grow, advance, and launch your career.
5. Show respect for wisdom. Pollak reminds Gen-Y that showing respect for wisdom and life experience of other generations can go a long way in helping you overcome the stereotypes that come with job hopping. "Sometimes it is important to do some grunt work to really be good at your job. Sometimes a phone call is more appropriate than a text. Sometimes slower is better than faster," she says. "The generations can all learn from each other—and the reality is that we're all on the same team."
Ritika Trikha is a writer for CareerBliss, an online career community dedicated to helping people find happiness in the workplace. Check out CareerBliss for millions of job listings, company reviews, salary information, and a free career happiness assessment.