I'm pretty desperate to get out of my current situation, as I'm a year out of university, and the job I'm in is a technical dead end, (and it doesn't pay well, it's boring, and I'm not happy here). I feel like it's damaging my career being in it (because I'm not developing valuable technical skills).

So I'm pretty keen to get out ASAP - jump into any job where at least I'd be developing object oriented programming skills, and be a bit happier, while I continue to look for a job that I actually like.

The question is, is this going to look bad from any potential future employers point of view?

  • If you're planning to have a new job before you quit any current one, what negative consequences are you worried about? That you won't be able to find another job down the road? – Rus925 Apr 16 '14 at 23:36
  • @Rus925 I guess the concern is, that if I jump in to a job now, that is better than my current one, but still not as good as I like, that when I do come accross the job that I really want, they'll be put off if I've only been at my current role for 3-6 months. – geekrunner Apr 16 '14 at 23:38
  • 1
    You always have a risk that the right opportunity is right around the corner and you'll somehow not be prepared. When you take a new job, it is a commitment, so you should try to take a job that you consider good enough that you won't mind passing up another (not yet known) opportunity that is right around the corner. – Brandon Apr 16 '14 at 23:40
  • Either way, in six months you wouldn't have had time to develop any additional skills, so the question remains whether you really can't stick it out a little longer than it'd take to find "any" job in order to find an "ideal" job. The other risk you run jumping around, unless you specifically take a temporary position and don't leave until it's over, is that it looks like you can't hold a job (keep getting fired). – Rus925 Apr 17 '14 at 0:13

I don't think 2 short-term jobs in themselves look particularly bad (although it might for some people).

Although, some possible problems with this:

  • "Any job"'s employer asks you "Why do you want to work here".

    Either you have to straight-up lie, or you're left having to mention something along the lines of not wanting to work at your current employer, which won't go over well.

    And you may not come across as particularly enthusiastic or interested, in general.

    So you may have a bit of a hard time getting said job.

  • You could be left having to explain these short-term jobs to "ideal job"'s employer.

    If I were an interviewer, I'd probably just go for something vague like "I see you have 2 jobs that you only held for a short time on your resume. Can you elaborate a bit on that?", leaving you enough room to dig your own grave, and me to ask some more questions. Or some interviewers might ask a series of more in-depth questions.

    Either way, you need to be sure you can handle that appropriately.

  • Searching for "any job" could take away from time spent searching for "ideal job".

    If you focus your search on "ideal job", you may actually get it. However, if you just look for "any job", you will likely find "any job" (and probably before you find "ideal job" if you try to look for both).

  • Having an okay "any job" might reduce the chance of wanting to search for "ideal job".

    Changing jobs is always at least a bit of a risk, and you may want to take the safe bet, or you may just be feeling lazy or content.

  • You might currently be able to spend your free time developing the required skills.

    If done right, this may come across a lot better than simply having a job in the appropriate field.

    Changing jobs is usually a bit stressful, there's a learning curve, and your new job would be expected to be more challenging, and thus you may not have as much free time or desire to do as much in your free time as you do now.

  • "Any job" is actually a lot worse than your current job.

    You can't know exactly how a job will be before you take it. You could ask the right interview questions (those right for you), but that's still far from perfect (and you likely haven't figured out the right questions for you, given that you're fresh out of university).

    Since you're just looking for "any job", this scenario is quite a bit more likely than it would be were you looking for "ideal job".

You already mentioned some of the advantages:

  • More relevant job experience for "ideal job"

  • Happier on the short term

  • Possibly more money

  • "Any job" actually ends up being / turns into "ideal job"

You'll need to weigh up the benefits against the risk.

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The question is, is this going to look bad from any potential future employers point of view?

Certainly you suspect it will won't look great, or you wouldn't have posted this question. And you are right - short-term jobs always raise a red flag.

As a hiring manager, I want to hire people for the long haul so that I can invest in them professionally.

Whenever I review a resume, I look for job duration in prior jobs. If I see jobs of less than two or three years, I wonder why.

  • Perhaps the candidate wasn't a good fit for the job. I wonder why wasn't the candidate able to discern that bad fit before signing on?
  • Perhaps the candidate was let go. I wonder, in what way did the candidate fail?
  • Perhaps the candidate got bored and left. I wonder, what bores this candidate?
  • Perhaps the candidate is hopping for a slight pay increase. I wonder, how much more pay is needed to cause this candidate to leave?
  • Overall, I wonder - will this candidate be able to stick around here, or will he/she be gone soon?

This isn't a black-or-white issue. One short job probably isn't a career-killer, particularly at the beginning of your career where you are basically considered "less mature", and "less settled" anyway. But more than one might indicate a pattern. And several short jobs in a row tend to show an ongoing issue.

If you do get past the resume review, and into an interview situation, be prepared to explain why you left any short-term jobs, and be prepared to explain to the interviewer why it won't happen at their company.

I would never recommend that you actually plan on a series of short-term jobs, unless you have no other options. Far better is to suck it up in your current job until you find a job that you are comfortable will be long-term. That demonstrates some maturity and professionalism.

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