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Positioning Short Job Tenure When It’s Not Job Hopping

Last Monday’s blog described the shift toward staffing and temporary jobs as an increasingly greater part of the economy. If you are a temporary employee of a temporary staffing firm, you may be struggling with how to write your resume. Today’s blog is about positioning short job tenure, when it’s not job hopping, on your resume to effectively land your next position.

To do this well, understand your audience. Clearly, there will be hiring managers and human resources personnel that filter your resume on anything less than 2 years of tenure in your job history. That’s an unfortunate loss for them. It is short-sighted thinking as it eliminates a significant number of highly motivated candidates that can successfully excel in the position doing that job for the longer-term.

The concept of turnover also catches up, and makes this even worse for those screening candidates by only long-term experience doing the job. Competitive companies are learning that a better approach is to hire applicants that have aptitude, interest, and ability to perform the job in the future – not the past. Here is why:

The old “no job hopping” approach finds employees that have done a job for 2, maybe 5 or more years. Think about this – these candidates are tired of that job already, they are ready to NOT do that job anymore. Hiring the candidate based on a numeric tenure will ensure they are bored quickly with the job they were tired of at their former company. They will soon want to move on to another role or position that is more challenging. This drives turnover rates higher. Specifically, it means in a short period of time, the position will be open again, and the company must suffer the productivity loss, cost of recruiting, hiring, and training again – in short order.

A much better approach is to hire candidates that have less tenure, and show more promise to stick to a job for a longer period of time. This reduces accelerated costs for short-term turnover. This simple concept is just missed by management, recruiters and human resource over and over.
Your greatest job search challenge as a candidate is to break through this legacy thinking. You will want to position your short job-tenure experience on your resume to catch the eye of the progressive, competitive-edge-thinking hiring manager, recruiter and human resources person filling the position you want.

To do this, there’s just one thing you need to remember: “RESULTS.” Focus your resume to position your ability not on the activity you have done in the past, but on the results you have achieved.

Demonstrate that no matter the challenge, you can, in short time-frames, deliver results. No one wants an employee that takes 2 or more years to deliver results. Now you can see the obvious reason why long-term tenure is such a poor hiring strategy in today’s fast-paced business environment.

Here are some examples of results that might find their way on your resume:

  • Learned a new computer system in 3 weeks by taking initiative and being the first one on my team to open the user guide, which resulted in new business from 23 new customers in the next 6 months.

If I’m a hiring manager, I want to hire that person because they 1) took initiative, and 2) delivered quantifiable results in 3) a short period of time. … and it was not 2 years or more!

  • Implemented a new process for tooling replacement that increased production by 20%, and reduced tool damaged and waste by 50% through scheduled sharpening and tagging which also improved quality and customer satisfaction.

As a hiring manager, I read this next example and I have ten things I want to call the candidate to learn more. That’s the primary objective of your resume!

Reading these two examples, I’m not lost in a statement of activity pulled directly from the job description you had at your last job. I’m not even noticing the short job tenure. I see a strong candidate that understands how his/her contribution drives company results.

For applicants and candidates writing their resume, it takes time and effort to position your past experience in terms of results. Schools do not teach this skill. However, if you think about what your next manager, looking for new people on their team are interested in, it is achieving results.

If your job history has short job tenure, position yourself as someone who can seeks challenge, takes initiative and consistently performs as demonstrated by results delivered in short timeframes.