Job Hopper: How Young Professionals Can Explain Short Employment Stints

Six steps to best market your diverse experience

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As a Gen Y worker, it’s no secret you aren’t staying at a company for decades like your baby booming parents—but you’re not alone in your ambitious pursuits. In fact, 60% of millennials leave a job within three years of being hired.

While preparing to jump ship, you’re probably interviewing for more attractive opportunities that align with your ultimate career goal. But are you fully prepared to explain your spotty resume to ensure smooth sailing into new waters?
Here are some tips young professionals can utilize to ensure the challenging questions that loom ahead are answered tactfully:

1. Be direct in your response. Long-winded and irresolute explanations will often raise unwanted red flags and leave the recruiter feeling that you aren’t completely aware of your career goals. Use this opportunity to carefully explain why you are pursuing a new position in a clear and succinct manner.

2. Never speak about your former company or boss in a negative way. Positivity is key when speaking about former work experiences despite your less than stellar boss or work environment. To prevent yourself from diving into a whirlwind of complaints about things that went awry, you can simply explain that culturally, the company was not the best fit for you. Round off your response by elaborating about how you believe the new company’s culture will align with your values and work ethic.

3. Reiterate skills you acquired from the opportunity. Despite your short tenure at the previous company, you probably left with a new skillset that you hadn’t utilized before you set foot in the door. This is the perfect time to emphasize the managerial experience you gained when you oversaw a team during a new project or your enhanced social media skills that enabled you to create a viral campaign, which resulted in a tremendous boost in company sales.

4. Shape your response around your ultimate career goal. The new position you are seeking should always align with your professional end goal. This goal should always be verbalized in your interview. Be sure to elaborate on how the position is your ideal job and how you plan to reach your desired level of success with the company by working your way through the ranks with hard work and dedication.

5. Emphasize your value and how you will contribute to the new company. Enthusiastically express how you will subscribe to the company’s bottom line by collaborating with colleagues and working independently to achieve goals. Remember, the HR manager’s responsibility is to hire strong candidates who can actively translate innovative ideas to actions that yield strong results.

6. Practice your response before the interview. Organize your thoughts to ensure you are able to explain the reasoning behind your new job pursuit clearly. Mock interviews with family and friends are a great way to receive constructive feedback. It is also helpful to record your responses with a tape recorder, listen and make adjustments where needed. Effective communication is a key skill in companies and it all begins with how you articulate in the interview.

Jaimee Ratliff  (@WhatJaiSays) is a nationally published resource on career and life development. A communications professional who is addicted to hashtags and skymiles, Jaimee strives to encourage young professionals to maximize their personal brand while energizing their personal passions. When she is not dreaming up plans for her next international adventure, she can be found in Houston writing up a storm. Jaimee is also a freelance content creator for individuals and businesses. Her writing has appeared in Brazen Careerist, the Chicago Tribune and Ragan Communications. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Spelman College.

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