Monday, August 04, 2008

Frequent Job Changer

How should I respond to "reason for leaving" on a job application and in an interview? I was not fired from my last job nor did I have poor performance. In fact, I received a very good performance review. I left because I could not get along with two of my co-workers. I couldn't complain to my boss because both of those individuals are her friends and have worked for the company three and five years.

I have lots of short-term jobs (one and two years each) so I guess to most employers I look like a job hopper. How can I emphasize that I am a hard worker and de-emphasize the short-term jobs in my work history?

Actually, in today's job market it's not that unusually for someone to change jobs once every two years. So maybe your rate of job change isn't out of the norm in your occupation. However, from your question, it sounds as if you'd like to stop job hopping, starting with your next job. I suggest you take some time to work with a career counselor or coach who can help you understand why jobs aren't sticking for you. Is it possible you would be happier in a different line of work? Or might you be happier in a profession that focuses on short-term assignments, perhaps even something that takes you to different locations as part of your job description?

As far as how to discuss why you left your last eight-month position, here are my thoughts:
- On your resume, list dates in your work history section, using years only (no months). There's no need to mention why you left the job.
- On the job application, if you're asked why you left your last job, say something brief, such as, "not a good fit."
- In the interview, use the statement from your application form to springboard from. Keep it brief and moving forward to why you want to work for the company you're interviewing with. If it turns out that your work with a career counselor leads you to a career change, then that's exactly the direction to take your conversation in the job interview. If, however, you decide to stay in the same occupation, say something like "It became clear to me that I could be more productive in a different environment, which is why I'm applying to ABC Company. Can you please tell me more about the team project I'd be working on here?"

In any case, be honest without blaming anyone. Take responsibility for your decision to leave your former employer and ensure the new employer that you're now focused on an exciting launch into this new job.

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