I see a lot of resumes; it comes with the job as have as an Employment Counsellor. In addition to the resumes I’m privileged to see, I listen to more people as they talk about their work history. Some have long careers working for a single employer while others have an abundance of shorter term jobs, seemingly changing from one to another every couple of years.
It’s of interest to me that most of the time, those who have spent much of their life in a job, two at the most – tend to be proud of their long tenures. I can hear it in their voice when they talk about their work, and that pride increases if the reason they are no longer working for a company was beyond both their control and the control of people around them such as their boss. If they lost their employment because of a decision far up the chain of command to down-size or relocate, the now unemployed person still feels good about their longevity and all it implies about their work ethic.
On the other hand, those who have worked in many jobs where each was for a relatively short duration don’t come across as confident and proud. Most often, when they talk about their work history, they apologize flat-out for having such a seemingly bad-looking resume. Their resume they fear looks like they can’t hold down a job as they move quickly from one to another. In short, they get defensive.
If your own resume has quite a few jobs on it and they are for only a few years at most and many much less than that, let me give you some positive ways to look at it. Why? Simple really. How you perceive your work history will be communicated to those you talk with it about, and if some of those you talk to are potential employers, you want to come across in a positive way, not presenting yourself as a short-term liability, hired only to be replaced in short order.
The most obvious benefit of having held many jobs is that numerous employers have had the confidence to hire you. Never forget this. This fact should confirm in your mind that you perform well enough in those interviews to sell your abilities and potential value to more than just a few employers. Where some job seekers would love for just a single employer to hire them, you’ve got the evidence that several employer’s see benefits in bringing you onboard.
The best thing about having worked in many jobs, especially when those jobs have been in different lines of work altogether, is the fact that you have diversified experience. In other words, it is exactly because your work history crosses many fields that you’ve got both the experience and an appreciation for what it’s like to work in those various employment sectors. This isn’t a liability but rather a strength. Of course, if you believe it to be a bad thing, you’ll send this message to everyone you talk to and they’ll be inclined to see it the way you see it. Ah but the opposite is also true! See this history of various jobs in different sectors as your strength and those you tell will consider this perspective and believe it the more you sell it.
Suppose you’ve worked in the fast-food industry as a Cook for a couple of years. From there, you moved to being a Sales Associate in a mall, then after chatting over time with the Security Guard, you went and got your licence and did that job for two years. To increase your earnings, you quit and took on a job in a food warehouse and just shy of a year you left the job to work as a Landscaper with a friend. So you’ve held 5 positions over 6 or 7 years. How do you view that? Can’t keep a job? Lack of direction? Not likely to stay in any job? Drifting and a poor bet to hang around long if/when hired again? See it that way, you’ll sell it that way.
But what if as I say we spun that around? You’ve worked as a Cook in the Hospitality Sector, Sales Representative in Retail, a Guard in Security, Labourer in a Warehouse and Landscaper in the Property Beautification sector. Suppose you pitched this summary as having gone out with the goal of gaining experiences; intentionally working in various sectors to gain an appreciation for various lines of work; discovering not only what the jobs entailed, but discovering more about yourself as you determined your preferences and things you wished to avoid. This accumulated work history has provided you with a way to connect with people in various lines of work, and having acquired this skill, now you’re focused on making a commitment to a longer-term position. One where your well-developed people skills and accumulated experiences working in teams, and of course your resiliency and ability to reinvent yourself will contribute to your success.
Read that paragraph again; maybe twice more. When you turn how you see your work history into a strength, you suddenly feel a confidence in defending your career journey. It can then translate into a benefit for a potential employer as they size you up.
Many jobs have one thing in common; interacting with people. Your diverse experience is suddenly an asset.