04 Jan Career Counsel Q&A
Career Counsel is a new part of The CV Stylist blog, a monthly agony column where you can send in your job hunting woes, problems and questions so that together we can help you out. Each month we’ll have a reader’s question and The CV Stylist response. Then we’ll open it out to everyone else to contribute their own thoughts, ideas and comments.
Q. Hi CV Stylist, I am a European Sales Manager for a global pharmaceutical company. I have been in my current role for less than four months, but I know it’s not right for me. The culture is stifling and the role is not what I thought it was going to be. I’m minded to look around for other things but my CV is starting to look very jumpy. I have had three jobs in three different companies in the past three years. I’m worried I will be labelled as a job hopper. How important is it to stay in a role for a certain period of time? Does it really matter?
A. Dear Stifled,
To cut to it – yes, longevity in a role does matter in most industries. As a headhunter my experience is that a jumpy CV is one of the main reasons clients get turned off towards a candidate in the early sifts. So, it’s definitely something to be mindful of and you’re right to ask the question. It’s something recruiters see quite a lot, so you are not alone.
You say you’ve only been in your current role for a few months. If you are thinking of jumping ship, then you’d be wise to cut the cord and do it as soon as possible. If you really know the fit isn’t right, and it sounds like you do, then you need to prepare to move on quickly to minimise impact (on both you and your current organisation).
There are several things you can do to address your bumpy career trajectory so you don’t come across as a serial job hopper:
First off, take a look at your CV. Are there ways you can smooth out the time bumps a little so they don’t appear quite so jumpy on paper? For example, if your current CV looks something like:
June 2017 – date: European Sales Manager, Current Company
December 2015 – May 2017: European Sales Manager, ABC Global Pharma
September 2014 – December 2015: UK Sales Manager, XYZ Pharmaceuticals
You could take out the months completely (which is fairly standard) and just use the year dates to show your progression:
2017 – date: European Sales Manager, Current Company
2015 – 2017: European Sales Manager, ABC Global Pharma
2014 – 2015: UK Sales Manager, XYZ Pharmaceuticals
It’s still completely accurate, but consider the difference to how it looks. Much less jumpy, and also much cleaner to read.
You will still need to address concerns a new employer may have about why you now want to leave your current company so soon. You need to own this issue and prepare to deal with any questions that might arise about it.
The last thing you want to do is make a list of excuses as to why your previous jobs didn’t work out. And definitely never badmouth previous employers or colleagues. Practice responses to the questions that might get asked so they come across as thoughtful and genuine. An example of a reflective response might be:
“I know my career moves may look less than ideal but I’ve learnt so much from those experiences and they’ve got me to where I am now. I’ve worked with lots of different systems and technologies, and I have a great understanding of different cultures and managerial styles. I’m now keen to find a role with a company where I can grow, and help them grow, for the longer term”.
Your responses need to be sincere and you need to have confidence in everything you say. Be true to yourself and your objectives. If you’re questioning yourself or don’t genuinely believe what you are saying, then you’re probably going after the wrong job. And most likely, the recruiter will sense that.
If they don’t pick up on it that could be even worse. Because then you might get stuck in a role you don’t want to be in. Which is also the place you’re in now. You don’t want the same thing to happen again. It’s important therefore that you absolutely do your own due diligence on any company you are thinking of joining before you sign the contract. This means doing your homework and asking astute questions at interview and throughout the recruitment process. Make sure you gather all the information you need to ensure this is truly the right fit for you. Is the company stable? What are the organisation’s long-term plans and strategy? Do you think you’re a good cultural fit? What about the culture do you like? What don’t you like? (Be honest). Is this a place you can see your career progressing? What about your future boss – what’s their management style? Do you click in person?
This is a great opportunity to consider what’s got you to this point in your career. What have you found has driven you up until now? Are those drivers still motivating you?
Take time now to ensure that any decision you make is a measured one. You can’t afford to make another wrong turn. Take a wise and honest approach to your job search though, and you should no longer feel so stifled.
Let’s open it out to see if anyone else can add any insights, advice or comments… and good luck!!
Jo, The CV Stylist
Do you need advice on a career or CV issue? For Jo’s and other readers’ help, send a brief email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that Jo is unable to answer legal questions or to reply personally.