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First time, long time.

I'm an IT professional in my mid-20s in the US. I have a very diverse range of experience and a good reputation among employers in my area, but I'm concerned about my future employment prospects on account of my tenure (or lack thereof) at previous jobs. This is what my employment history looks like (most of which were as a software developer/DevOps person with one or two stints as a network engineer/sysadmin):

  • Company A 3 years 4 months
  • Company B 1 year 6 months
  • Company C 6 months
  • Company A 1 year 4 months
  • Company D 11 months (current)

As you can see I haven't stayed longer than two years at any job since the first one that I had out of high school due to my wish to expand my horizons and receive better financial compensation. Thus far this has worked out very well but now that I'm approaching a decade into my career I'm wondering if continuing to "job hop" will shut me out of new opportunities. I interview well and am confident that I can satisfactorily explain each of the transitions to my prospective employers (not to mention the fact that I still talk to all of my former managers in a friendly capacity, left on good terms, and even returned to one of them), but I'm worried about not even progressing to the interview during applications on account of my resume being passed on due to job hopping.

My question is this: do recruiters, HR departments, or hiring managers at tech companies typically discard resumes outright on the basis of shorter periods of employment at previous jobs? The research I've done is all over the map, with some indicating that my employment history is typical for people my age and others saying that it's absolute career suicide. This type of advice doesn't address my question, which is basically "can I still get my foot in the door?" I very much appreciate any insight that you all can offer.

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    "you're approaching a decade into your career" and your total listed experience > 10 years. Also, you're in your mid-20s. I'm a little confused, what is your occupation, has it consistently been the same, do you have a degree, and is there anything else we should know? I ask because if this is your second career, then all the stuff in your first career, while useful to list, doesn't "apply" – bharal Apr 6 '18 at 23:59
  • @bharal No degree but I'm in the process of finishing it. I also mentioned my occupations in the question; I'm being a little vague to maintain anonymity but the essentials are all there. "Approaching" a decade means I'm nearly there and am using it as a milestone; I'm on the better side of halfway there, hence my verbage. Thanks for taking the time to look at my question. – Leonard Washington Apr 7 '18 at 0:12
  • pre your degree it doesn't matter - you could have been a club promoter. actually, one of the most competent IT types i know was a club promoter until his late 20s, and is now a senior manager in a bank. The assumption is that "post" degree is the "real" you. Your particular pre-degree work will, of course, help - but i wouldn't sweat this. – bharal Apr 7 '18 at 0:32
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No they don't.

In my 11 years of recruiting within in the US market I would say that within your industry, "job hopping" as you call it is very, very usual, for a multitude of reasons. It is the exception, definitely not the norm, for an individual to remain within one or two companies over a period of say ten years.

Yes it shows loyalty and commitment when I see a resume or cv of an individual where they have progressed their career over time within one organization. But as I said, it is the exception.

Taking the distant mountain view, you are at the beginning of your career. If as you say you are able to confidently explain each move, no matter how short, then you are in good shape moving forward. The fact that you are still are on good terms with your previous employers also speaks volumes.

So to answer your question, do recruiters, HR departments, or hiring managers at tech companies typically discard resumes outright on the basis of shorter periods of employment at previous jobs, I would say no, no they don't.

Every company has it's own culture and way of doing things, some may be prejudicial while others may not. Overall though for most companies, they will open the door and judge you on both your skill-set and your passion for the work. If both are strong and show growth and maturity, then it just comes down to the likeability factor. Hope this helps your confidence to carry on with your best foot forward. I wish you all the luck in your career. T

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    This is pretty much exactly what I was asking. Marked not because it's what I want to hear, but because it addresses my question directly. I totally understand and identify with the fact that some employers might not like my job history; I was just wondering if I'd get the chance to explain myself or if I'm essentially blacklisting myself everywhere that I apply. Thanks very much for your insight, as well as to everybody else that answered. It will help me plan appropriately going forward. – Leonard Washington Apr 7 '18 at 15:47
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Your pattern of employment and your stated reasons for moving so often would both be reddish flags to some hiring managers - they might not specifically filter based on the pattern, but it will be a factor when choosing between you and other candidates.

Hiring and onboarding is not cheap - after advertising, selection, interviews, onboarding and training, the company will have invested in many man-hours above just your salary. They want a decent return on that, and if it looks like you're going to head off somewhere else for a bit more money after only 12-24 months, they're going to think hard about the other guys who might be more likely to be around 3-5 years.

Sure, past performance doesn't always indicate future behaviour, but experience also shows that short-timing is a persistent behaviour.

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Not in my experience. There are a number of valid reasons why someone would leave a position, particularly in early-career when one's capabilities/interests evolve much faster than one's job description and compensation. So yes, you should still be able to get your foot in the door.

You seem to already know the counterpoint to my answer -- this will strike many employers as a negative, potentially a significant one. Hiring and on-boarding is expensive and disruptive, so we'd prefer not to have to redo it every year or two.

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