I feel like my resume is cursing me. In the last five years I have held just as many jobs. For the first of those five years, I had two jobs lasting a few months each. The next job lasted me two years (making it the longest one), and the job after that just a few months again. And there are also periods of time where I didn't have work in months because I was looking for work.

Here are things I have been suggested on avoiding to appear like a job hopper, but they come with their own problems.

  • Don't tell the exact reason you lost the job: Someone suggested that, when asked why I left a job, I should just say I wasn't a good fit for the job, or didn't mesh with the work culture. I am against this as it's a "hiding the truth" solution, and it's worse if they contact my previous employer about it.
  • Drop the months from your resume: It does hide the time holes in my resume, but again it's another half-truth. A technical recruiter actually hated that I was doing this, because it was misleading.
  • Remove jobs from your list: This makes my resume shorter, but it also makes my experience look shorter than it is, and it leads to more gaping holes of not having work. As it is I already have problems getting the job due to not having enough experience.

So I am not confident with these suggestions. It's hard to erase the past and wish I could have had just have 2 or 3 longer jobs as some of my colleagues have. Can I still look really good in a chronological resume? Is it still possible to save my integrity and show that I can last long at a job?

(edit) Because I've been asked here, all these past jobs are in my career field. Sorry for the late edit.

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    and it's worse if they contact my previous employer about it. Just a comment, in the US when performing a background check, you are only allowed to legally ask the previous employers very specific questions. "Did X work here from Y to Z?" "Was N his/her title?" Asking just about any other question is illegal. Of course these limitations don't apply to your references. Commented May 12, 2012 at 1:49
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    @maple_shaft not illiegal. however, companies can be sued for asking/answering such things. personally, i feel that's BS. but you can sue for damn near anything in this country, sadly enough.
    – acolyte
    Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 16:49
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    @acolyte I wasn't aware of that, thank you. I have a friend who does background checks for a living and this is what she had told me but she may have been mistaken too. Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 17:57
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    @acolyte the specific charge is "defamation" essentially it's seen as going out of your way to ruin someone's reputation. There is information that is considered safe which boils down to title, work time span, and anything that is public record. (not much private sector, but public could include almost anything) Any voicing of opinion is extremely risky. I actually deal with the same concerns when handling HOA meetings. Everyone knows the person who's let their yard turn to a jungle, never paid their dues, etc, but I can't talk about it or I risk the exact same legal consequences. Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 20:36
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    I almost didn't hire a guy who is now one of my best employees because he left the months off his resume. I thought he must be hiding something. Luckily my other first 3 choices didn't get past the interview stage...
    – MGOwen
    Commented Mar 16, 2015 at 2:19

4 Answers 4


Is it still possible to save my integrity

The way to do this is not to lose it in the first place, and the way you would lose your integrity is to lie (or use "half-truths", as you say). So, when your instinct tells you something is wrong, listen to it -- the examples above show that you have good instincts in this area.

and show that I can last long at a job?

This is the tricky one, isn't it? The first question to ask is can you last long at a job? It's unclear the reasons you didn't last in your positions -- if you were fired, then that's something to own up to and learn from, because as you said, if a reference is checked the truth is going to come out. Just state the reasons when you're asked about it, and not before, and then take the opportunity to explain how you are taking steps to correct your behavior/attitude/skills (whatever got you fired in the first place). If you didn't get fired -- if a contract ended, or a company downsized generally, and so on -- then those reasons which are beyond your control shouldn't negatively impact you. When asked, discuss the positive things you did when you were there.

As to your three bullet points, I would offer this advice (as someone who hires people):

  • Do tell why you lost a job, if you're asked. If it is true that you weren't "a good fit for the job, or didn't mesh with the work culture" then say so; be ready to explain that, though, because that would be the next question asked. And be truthful in that answer, too. Sometimes it doesn't matter what the answer is, but how you handle being asked that matters.
  • Be as clear in your months of employment as you can. These will be verified anyway, and you will be asked to verify the gaps in employment whenever they're discovered, so get in front of them.
  • Remove any jobs from the list that are irrelevant to the position you are applying for, and the stage of your career. For example, if you are three years out of college, your summer camp job in high school isn't relevant, even if you did learn leadership, cooperation, and basic management skills. However, if removing jobs leaves more gaping holes than unemployment does, then don't.

You're right that it's hard to erase the past. Don't try. Own up to it, change whatever you need to change, and be honest about that when it comes up. I'll always hire an honest person showing attempts at growth over someone who lies and looks like the perfect employee on paper!

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    One of the best favors anyone ever did for me was the person interviewing me for a job asked, "So, I see that you haven't held any job for more than 6 months. Why should I believe that you'll stay here any longer?" The interviewer wasn't rude, just direct. I was in high school at the time, but it was that clear, obvious feedback I needed to help me understand how the company viewed that part of my work ethic (or the impression of my work ethic).
    – jefflunt
    Commented May 14, 2012 at 22:33
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    I'd quit the previous jobs, and always left on my own terms. So, the question was well placed. Knowing that people would be asking me that question for the rest of my life if I didn't change something, I vowed to stick it out at whatever job came to me next, through even the toughest of times, to learn the lessons that were there for me. It taught me two things: first, that hard times are temporary (even if they sometimes go on for 6-12 months), and second, that sticking it out taught me more about work (and what I did and didn't and didn't want to do for a living) than moving on did.
    – jefflunt
    Commented May 14, 2012 at 22:35
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    @jefflunt If someone asked me a question like "Why should I believe you'll stay here any longer?" my reply would be, "Why should I believe that you will provide me with a healthy, supportive working environment that enables me to succeed?" I hate how one-sided it is against candidates. Leaving a job after 6 months requires an explanation, yet candidates are labeled arrogant or combative if they raise questions about whether an employer would deserve for their employee to continue giving them the privilege of their labor for more than 6 months.
    – user12818
    Commented Oct 18, 2014 at 3:22
  • That's not untrue, but you're free to ask the interviewer about retention of employees and whether / who you're replacing and watch them answer. You cannot blame them for asking questions about you without proactively answering the question you could ask in return
    – bytepusher
    Commented Jul 5, 2020 at 11:37

When you do something you regret, what do you do? - First, Confess

This sounds more absurd than any other answer, but it might just be a good start. If you are in front of a real recruiter (someone like me) it will actually help you.

1. Understand your self

This might be possibly doing it without very conscious thinking but some core reason is driving it. First, try to figure out, what will you now take to make you a good active member in a project and stop all the clutter from my mind when you make career objectives. You need to be clear about what you need now - if that is lacking the recruiter will not bother about your quality now.

2. Prepare your defense

It's not always a bad thing. Unlike the popular notion there is really nothing wrong about job hopping - if this is done for the right and good reasons. And among many, the serious reasons could be "misfit of profiles", "serious cultural issue" (though this should be very objective), "company on verge of closing" are actually ok. If you say i took this but then found something "i was too passionate about" - works only if that other thing you carried it through. Of course, when you quote "For better growth options" - should not jump out in few months.

3. Be clear on your objective in resume

When many of the times you figure out that prominently there is a X reason for you to jump, and you discover that Y fits for you well; it is better to focus on something complementary.

Also, this are the situations where "Objective of the resume" does good job. An objective, something like...

In the last Five years i have been through lot of experimentation with job profile and a deep hunger to find challenging work - i am now looking for X ...

might be too upfront, but something like,

I have been working in many services companies for sometime, though now i want to strongly work for a product driven company

seems cool.

4. Don't Hide Anything

This is most important. Ultimately people either come to know - or people find things fishy. Good recruiters want to hire people who are upfront, even if you admit your mistakes. Own up and even confess - but promise that you won't continue this issue further. Explain them why! If that why is convincing you can be on good front.


You did not disclose in your post why your tenure at your jobs ended, so I am not sure that I am in a position to give you definite advice.

I work in New York City's high tech sector. At one point, I had three employers in five years. That's because they all went OOB (Out of Business). I put down pretty hard the interviewer who jumped to conclusions from reading the start and end dates on my resume and called me a "job hopper". No, I didn't get the job I was interviewing for but that was OK with me: he was one less idiot that I might have had the misfortune to work with.

If your employers went OOB, that's one thing. If you were fired from every job, that's another. If you got the pink slip because they ran out of money to pay you with, that's a third. If those who hired you out for only a few months never had the intention of retaining you on a long term basis, that's a fourth.

In general, if it's not your fault i.e. OOB and/or layoff, there is nothing to be ashamed off - you were just unlucky. On the other hand, if you got fired systematically, it's definitely an issue and it's an issue that I don't want to address without specific additional information from you as to why you got fired each time.

  • I don't know of any company that chooses whom to layoff by random choice, so I wouldn't say you were "unlucky" under those circumstances. Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 18:32
  • @user2813274 What are you talking about? OOB means that the company is closing its doors and laying off ALL of its employees! Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 18:53
  • A layoff does not require a company to be going out of business - look at Microsoft's recent announcement for proof - If a company decides to eliminate a part of it's workforce, it will be the bottom-rung that gets eliminated, not the top. I also question the judgement of a person who was unable to prepare for a company going out of business - these things don't just happen overnight, any employee with eyes should be able to see things not going well and be ready with alternatives should things go south. Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 19:22

While the jobs may have had a short duration, what kind of impact did you have in each position? That's the question I'd ask as the point of a resume is to get a job interview and not be a complete biography. While it may be nice to drop the months, it may appear somewhat misleading which could cause more problems. If you want to maintain your integrity, you need to have answers for what you did in various positions and why you are no longer in that position.

I'm not sure you have enough evidence for the lasting long at a job to really cover that angle of your last question. I'd be more tempted to argue that the important point is what kind of results did you bring in each of your positions, what did you learn from them so that as you find prospective employers you can educate them on how even if a position was short, there was still value there for both you and the former employer. While you can't erase the past, you can certainly mine it and understand there are various ways to frame a situation. Consider what kind of value are you offering by listing these positions: Is it just because this is a common rule with resumes or do you have some goods to back up why each former position was useful? What kind of positions are you trying to get that experience is such a big issue? Are you trying to get senior positions with only a couple of years experience? Are you rejecting junior positions merely because you'd spent a few years in the field? Just something to ponder.

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