My work history is starting to look a bit jumpy. My longest employment is less than a year and a half. I feel like I have good reason for leaving each of these jobs (see below), however it's not that obvious from my resume (first impressions).

My question is, am I hurting myself in the long run? By jumping jobs I have been able to raise my salary from something criminally small (small town USA) to a competitive level in a more urban area.

I ask because I have been at my current position for about 6 months and now the project manager / one of the main developers is leaving, which is OK, but I don't think they plan to get another project manager. Instead one of the owners (not technical in any way) plans to step into this role. This person, according to coworkers, is a notorious micro manager that gives customers unrealistic expectations (Read: "Sure we can get that to you in a week" but it's really something that will take a month or more).

On top of this, we are already understaffed with a development team of 6. To prepare for the upcoming loss of of a senior developer the owner has all but removed flex hours, and asked that I begin working 50 hours a week. No mention of compensation for this, of course.

So I'm kind of thinking of getting on a life boat instead of staying with the Titanic.... However this will just make my resume look that much more jumpy.

Also because I end up jumping every year or so anyway, I'm thinking about becoming a consultant / doing temporary contract work. Would this be a solution to my problem?

Here's my rough job history timeline for career related jobs (I also worked retail and waitressed in college but no one cares about that).

  • Programming - 1 year 4 months (harassing coworker lead to bad work environment)
  • Programming - 1 month (bad fit for my skills, didn't realize until I got there, told them it was bad fit ASAP)
  • Programming - 11 months (company went under :( )
  • Programming - 1 year 4 months (poor work environment, boss lived in office... so I moved 2 hours away for my next job)
  • College Lecturer - 1 year 4 months (was part time and had to stop to get my next job)
  • Programming Freelance - 2 years 8 months
  • Programming - 8 months (couldn't cash paychecks, company unstable)

The newest job is at the top, and the oldest job started about 5+ years ago.

  • chronologically speaking is the most recent at top or bottom? Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 19:43
  • The newest job is at the top, and the oldest job started in April of 2009. Also on my LinkedIn page I have positive recommendations on most of the jobs.
    – RachelD
    Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 19:48
  • 3
    The extent to which this is a problem really depends on the type of employer that you are going for. The more conservative larger companies are going to have issues-- they like to see a well-defined continuous career trajectory even though that is becoming harder and harder to achieve. I have 8 jobs in 14 years (that is considered "job-hopping" by some) but it comes with the territory when your throw in start-ups and unstable/dysfunctional companies.
    – teego1967
    Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 23:09
  • 6
    I'd delete the 1-month job. What can you do to improve your resume? Suck it up and put in another couple of years at your current job. Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 10:01

3 Answers 3


Wow, where to begin.

Your work history to me (with the exception of the shorter stints where you had a legitimate excuse to leave like not getting paid or not being a good fit) screams that you are the type of person to turn and run at the first sign of trouble. The Project Manager leaves and your immediate instinct isn't to try out the position or deal with some crunch time, it's to run. If I were a hiring manager, this would be a real red flag.

You can overcome this by providing examples during the interview of projects that you have followed through on and perhaps explain how you overcame some adversity. On my team I want people who can overcome challenges, not run away from them the second they are presented.

With such a job history, how do you have any references that can speak highly of you?

  • 6
    Why did Pete get a downvote? My first impressions upon seeing the job-hopping is actually it has to be 1 of these 2. Either, this person leaves when the going gets tough OR the person is not very good and stays just short enough so they don't get fired. Even if I give the benefit of the doubt that it isn't either of the above then I would still have a lingering feeling that I don't trust this person's judgment considering the plethora of poor job choices. Choosing a place of employment is something that you should put some effort into to increase the odds that it will be a good fit.
    – Dunk
    Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 22:53

My question is, am I hurting myself in the long run?

Certainly there is the possibility that your run of short jobs will hurt you in the long run. And it has nothing to do with saving face.

I know when I am interviewing candidates, I strongly prefer to hire folks who have shown that they aren't job hopping. I like to invest a lot (salary, training, confidence, choice projects, etc) in my team. That only pays off for people that are going to be around for a while. I likely wouldn't hire someone who I felt wouldn't be around in 2 years.

Based on your list of short-term positions, I suspect I'd be reluctant to hire you.

Everyone who has been in the job market for a while experiences a job or two that didn't last as long as hoped. It happens. It's not unusual.

But if it happens repeatedly, you are establishing a pattern. From a prospective manager's position, something is missing. Perhaps there's something missing in how you choose jobs, or perhaps you intentionally hop quickly to the next job, perhaps something else is happening.

Either way, sooner or later potential employers might notice, and you may end up with fewer job offers than you would otherwise.

You get to decide if you care or not, how much you care, and what you want to do about it.

I'm thinking about becoming a consultant / doing temporary contract work. Would this be a solution to my problem?


But your professional reputation will suffer greatly, if you choose to duck out of contracts early because "project manager is leaving", "poor work environment", "bad fit for your skills", etc. Perhaps you should seek only very short-term contracts.

It might be very hard to get a contract if you have a reputation of not completing them.

  • Leaving contract early wont be an issue. Most contracts that I have come across are a year or less. I can tolerate any kind of office politics for that amount of time.
    – RachelD
    Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 20:04
  • 2
    @RachelD Then by your comment it seems the root of the problem is your personal distaste for office politics, no? I would certainly be hesitant to hire you if I were hiring for a large company with complex office politics then, based off of that statement. It sounds like you would be happier if you were able to find a work environment with relatively little standard politics. The even deeper conclusion is that perhaps you have difficulty judging how "politic-y" a job is ahead of time? If you look at past jobs, can you identify some early red flags that hinted that they wouldn't work for you?
    – Jason C
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 3:53
  • 1
    @RachelD, you are aware that there are office politics in play in every single company? You need to learn to play them not keep running away from them. If you can't work when things are less than optimal for you, you will find it harder and harder to find a good job. There are no perfect jobs, there are no perfect workplaces.
    – HLGEM
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 13:23
  • Tell me where I can find an office without politics... Commented Jan 22, 2018 at 18:42

Well this is not "great" but it's still not horrendous...

first, your next job you land needs to stick, or you need to consider contracting where fast switches are considered normal.

Remember your resume isn't meant to be your entire career history, it's a document meant to sell yourself to a potential employer.

  • Any jobs under 3 months just leave out. (unless it's something insanely awesome)
  • list your best jobs, likely your lecturer, Freelance, and two recent 1.4 year jobs are the best candidates, but you'll know better than me.
  • I'd probably leave out the job that didn't you reliably it's way back, and pretty short, more negative than positive at a bird's eye.

So this leaves you four jobs to explain.

  • The job that closed is easy, you stayed to the end, it closed. No one will hold that against you (unless you were a CEO or something)
  • The lecturer won't be easy... you left for better opportunity which is fine, but could be seen as a negative.
  • The real challenge is those two 1.4 year jobs...

From the outside perspective it looks like you are easily made uncomfortable in a role due to the trend. (which is a totally unfair assumption, but being honest to how it reads) this is the hurdle you must tackle. You want to avoid bad mouthing your last employer, but at the same time you need to demonstrate the work environments became hostile and you did your due diligence to resolve the issue unsuccessfully.

If I was interviewing you and you can demonstrate you did everything that could reasonably be expected of you in regards to preventing a hostile work environment than I wouldn't hold it against you... but if you just say "it sucked, I left" you're not going to get far... If you didn't do diligence to try and mitigate/improve the situation than really your job flipping isn't the problem...

I would focus on the issue with the coworker situation... people understand there's not much you can do about a crappy boss. I won't lie you've got an uphill battle, but it's not doomsday or anything, but the flipping has to stop unless you switch to temp or contract work otherwise this is only going to get worse.

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