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I gained significant work experience through independent work with multiple businesses and non-businesses during my time at school and university. Through this work I built my skills which helped me fast track into corporate-level junior management with staff a few years after university. I hold a tenure of two years at my current employer and am starting to consider exploring new opportunities - only due to personal reasons (influenced by compensation and work/life balance).

I am aware of the difficulties one can encounter when coming across as a job hopper or freelancer while applying for roles in the corporate world - and I would like to somehow make it clear on my resume/CV that the reason for having freelanced/hopped in the past was simply because I had no other choice during full-time education (let me clarify this part: I had to be at school/university from around morning to afternoon; but after that I had plenty of free time to work on all these projects. Although there were no specific hours I spent ages and ages on it); and yet that my pre-corporate experience adds up to my career history.

Currently I have something similar to the following structure (with more details of course, but this is just to illustrate) on my resume:

Work experience

  • Nov 2011 - current: Current company
  • Apr 2011 - Oct 2011: Freelance work
  • Dec 2010 - Mar 2011: Contract with major company
  • Oct 2000 - Nov 2010: Freelance work

Education

  • 2007-2010: BA University
  • 2000-2007: Grammar/Magnet School

marked as duplicate by gnat, Chris E, Jim G., Michael Grubey, Richard Says Reinstate Monica Aug 1 '16 at 18:45

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    Your resume/CV should show the facts, which it appears to; additional explanation of those facts should happen in your cover letter, if you feel you need to proactively explain your situation. Quite frankly, as a hiring manager, if you say just what you said in your first paragraph as part of your cover letter, I'd be completely satisfied (note, also, that I wouldn't read this particular bullet list as "job hopping"). Have you encountered some sort of resistance to your presentation as-is that makes you ask this question? – jcmeloni Feb 1 '14 at 1:18
  • I agree with jcmeloni. I see nothing wrong on the list. Don't say simply because I had no other choice in your cover letter. It would lead me to wonder if you were fired from one of the jobs. – scaaahu Feb 1 '14 at 6:08
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The stigma of the "job-hopper" is generally attached to someone who frequently changes permanent, full-time jobs. Such a person begins to appear undesirable to employers who are looking to hire a permanent, full-time employee - they quite reasonably fear that you won't stick around for long. Hiring is a lot of work, bringing a new employee up to full productivity takes time, and if a new hire leaves after a short period of time, that time and effort will have been wasted.

Having said that, having a history of freelance or contract work is a different thing entirely. The fact that your freelance and contract jobs were of short duration is not the mark of a job-hopper - it's the nature of freelancing!

That's not to say that this history doesn't raise any issues at all. It can. Especially when applying for a permanent, full-time role straight out of a spell of contracting. I've interviewed people in that situation, and a question that has to be asked is "why are you applying for a permanent job now after contracting for the last x years?" You don't want to hire someone who actually doesn't want a permanent job but is just grabbing what he can get due to a dry spell of contracts, so if you're in that situation, you need to be prepared to answer that question.

But you're not. You've been working a regular job for more than two years now - and that's not an unreasonably short span of time for your first full-time job after graduation. Employers are not going to look at your resume and think "maybe this guy would rather be contracting than full-timing?" when you haven't done that since October 2011.

So in summary: don't sweat it. Focus on doing a good job of promoting your skills and experience, prepare yourself with a good answer for the "why do you want to change jobs?" question, but don't stress about the fact that you did freelance work while studying and for a short time afterwards.

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I would say you also don't have to feel compelled to list every job you've ever had on your resume. List the most recent jobs from the past 3/4 years. That's more than enough indication of what you have been up to.

If you want to highlight the work that you did as a freelancer, you could include that in a separate section of your resume, "Notable Projects", and then give a little detail about the ones that are most relevant to the position that you are applying for.

Your resume is not written in stone, feel free to tailor it to the job that you are applying for. If you think they won't appreciate the number of different jobs that you've had, then just leave it out.

  • I like using 'notable projects'. Make sure to keep it to stuff relevant to the job you're applying for though. If you can't tie it back to a skill or responsibility on the job spec, don't feel the need to add it. – Ben Feb 1 '14 at 15:07

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