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Make sure your career progression is not mistaken for job hopping

2451784799 dcbb8d5bbf Make sure your career progression is not mistaken for job hopping

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If you have been with the same company for most of your career, make sure your promotions don't look like job hops on your resume.

This sounds nit picky, I know, but I see it all the time and it's worth an explanation. Let's say you have worked for the same PR agency for the past eight years. You started as a Senior Account Executive and you're now a Vice President. Naturally, you want to show your career progression. You have probably worked with a variety of clients in different capacities throughout the years and have assumed increasing responsibility. So, you want to list it but it ends up looking something like this:

11/2007-present          XYZ Communications            Boston, MA
Vice President
(Add experience here)

10/2006-11/2007        XYZ Communications            Boston, MA
Account Director
(Add experience here)

1/2005-10/2006          XYZ Communications            Boston, MA
Account Manager
(Add experience here )

and so on....

The problem with listing promotions like this is that at first glance it looks jumpy, and if your resume is being scanned by a lazy eye in less than five seconds, the warning sirens scream "job hopper" and so it goes to the "out" pile. The reviewer didn't even notice each of the listed positions were with the same company.

The quick, simple fix to this: Start your experience with the date you start to present, add the company and the city. Underneath list each position with the dates, responsibilities, and accomplishments. Don't list the same company more than once. Unless, of course, you left and came back at a later period of time.

It should look something like this:

2/2000 - present          XYZ Communications            Boston, MA

Vice President
November 2007 - present
(Add experience here)

Account Director
October 2006-November 2007
(Add experience here)

Account Manager
January 2005-October 2006
(add experience here )

and so on....

This is part three of a series about what not to put on your resume.

Part 1: 5 things you should never put on your resume

Part 2: Top things you should never put on your resume by readers

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8 Comments - Add yours!

Margie Newman (December 2nd, 2008)

That’s brilliant. I’m gonna take that advice and rework my State of Tennessee stuff. It does appear that I changed companies every 12 months but it was all Governor’s work – just three different roles. Thanks, Lindsay!

David Moye (December 2nd, 2008)

On the other hand, do employers look down on people who stay at one place for a long time?

Lindsay (December 2nd, 2008)

Margie, I’m glad it’s helpful!

David, depends on the employer, but yes sometimes they do. I typically hear comments if the candidates has worked for the same company more than 10 years or so. It depends on the company, the hiring manager and who the candidate has been working more. More often than not, it’s more about a doubt in the “culture fit” than the candidate’s qualifications.

Todd Post (December 2nd, 2008)

Great advice! While it hasn’t been that much of a problem, I have had occasional confusion with the first method as some people don’t pick up on the fact it’s a promotion. This is one of the reasons I prefer a skills resume over a chronological resume, especially after spending two years freelancing/contracting.

Louise Fletcher (December 6th, 2008)

I totally agree – I do this all the time for my resume clients – also, if a company was taken over by another company, you can show them together. For example:

XYZ Company/ ABC Inc., 1998-2005

Just make mention of the merger somewhere in the job description – for example “hired as marketing manager with ABC Inc. and asked to stay on after merger with XYZ Company.”

Lindsay Olson | Archivo » Top things to never put on your resume by readers (December 8th, 2008)

[...] Part 3: Make sure your career progression is not mistaken for job hopping [...]

Lee (February 12th, 2009)

Love the post. I agree you have to be careful how you list jobs to not appear as a job hopper :)

Brad Hubbard (June 14th, 2009)

Now this I very much agree with! When I scan a resume, one of the FIRST things I’m looking for is the length of time the candidate has held positions with other employers. And what you describe can get the resume tossed not only from misinterpretation, but also because I don’t care to do the math & add up all of the promotions. And in most cases I don’t care about every title the candidate held at company XYZ. I do care that they started at one level and advanced to CEO in a year, but fact can be presented within the section. Also, what candidates don’t realize is they’re really getting less credit with that construct. If you list the last position you held, at the first review you’ll get credit for the entire duration in that position. You shouldn’t mis-represent it; in fact explain it in the section. But UNDERSTAND THE PROCESS your resume goes through, & write it to go from one step to the next. Your promotions aren’t important in the first several reviews.

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