The Benefits of a Job-Hopping Resume in Retail (And How to Write One)
by Kristin Hackler
If someone calls you a “job hopper,” your initial reaction is likely to feel offended. Job hopper? Well, maybe you’ve had a handful of jobs in the past few years, but should that cast a poor light on you and your resume?
In many cases it shouldn’t, and fortunately, the working world is starting to realize this. Especially when in the retail industry, which has some of the highest turnover rates, companies are accustomed to seeing some level of job change.
Here are our tips for how to turn that potential negative into a positive as you take on your job search.
Job hopping is not new
Most of us have a negative view of job hopping. Some assume it’s a recent trend. What many don’t realize, however, is that job hopping is not new and, in fact, is quite common.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, latter-year baby boomers (those born between 1957 and 1964) held an average of 12.3 jobs between the ages of 18 and 52, with “nearly half of these jobs held from ages 18 to 24.” Additionally, between the ages of 35 and 44, about 36 percent of baby boomers held a job for less than a year.
Compare that to the millennial generation, which has held an average of 4.6 jobs between ages 18 and 22, and which, by age 30, only held a job for less than a year about 33 percent of the time. Those statistics show that the trend of job hopping is actually on the decline.
These statistics also confirm something most of us are aware of. Very few people know what they want to be when they “grow up.” Job hopping, especially early on, is how we discover our career path.
Resume writing tips for job hoppers: Talking about frequent job changes
Most importantly, you need to be honest and transparent in your applications materials about previous roles and length of employment. There’s no room for distorting your employment history. And if your next employer validates employment with a previous employer and you weren’t up front, that may cost you the job. Just don’t do it.
Choosing the right resume format can help focus attention on the high points of your skills and experience. Your resume should be organized in a clean and easy-to-read format (such as the professional five-part resume described here).
- Start with a carefully written summary that references the breadth of your experience. You can say that you have a total of X years of experience doing a specific task — even if that’s been in a variety of roles.
- The skills section of your resume is an excellent place to include some of your most relevant and transferable soft skills and hard skills. These are the kinds of qualities that are hard to train and experience, regardless of where you got it, will be persuasive for your candidacy.
- So, how many jobs should be on your resume? You don’t have to include everything. Some jobs — because of extra-short tenure, lack of new skills gained, or lack of relevance — may not need to be covered. Again, do not stretch the truth. But if it’s not adding to your ability to earn a new role, be thoughtful about including it.
Whichever resume format you choose, you’ll want to customize your resume for each position, highlighting the main aspects of your background that align most directly with the job description. Use the exact keywords and phrases found in the job description to better your chances of getting your resume past the ATS (Applicant Tracking System) and into the hands of the hiring manager.
4 benefits of a job-hopping resume
Whether you’re just getting started on your career path or you’re still searching for just the right fit, there can be quite a few benefits to a job hopping resume.
1) You’re more likely to have the experience needed for the role.
In a diverse industry such as retail, for example — an industry that our recent Retail Trends Report expects to grow by 1.7 percent by 2026 — holding a variety of jobs means that you’re more likely to understand and work well with multiple retail roles, making your skill set highly desirable.
2) It can help you get past the ATS bots.
With potentially more time working in retail or a greater variety of roles than other candidates for the position, you have a better chance of getting through the automated review of your resume.
3) You know what you love and have a proven passion for the industry.
As with the first benefit discussed, holding multiple roles within the same broad industry shows you’ve gained a diverse skill set, and you have a passion for it. While you may not have 15 years in one retail role, for instance, you may have a total of 15 years of dedicated retail experience. This is a powerful statement to a hiring manager.
4) Now that your journeyman phase is over, you’re ready for the long-term.
Multiple short-term jobs can also support your decision to take on a more extended, career-spanning role. As the statistics earlier showed, most people have at least one series of “self-discovery” jobs before they settle on a role that uses their skill sets and fulfills their passions. This is a helpful perspective to note with any hiring agent, especially when you tie it into the other experiential benefits of your diverse background.
Job hopping is neither unusual nor something to be frowned upon. Speaking as someone who held more jobs than she could count before age 25, sometimes it takes a while to find the role that makes you excited to go to work every day. But when you do, having some background in those necessary skills can go miles in helping you land the job you’ll want to stay at for a long time.