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From what I've read on other threads on here regarding job-hopping / short-term employments, it seems that you should never state your reasons for leaving a job on your CV.

I believe I have legitimate reasons for me switching jobs more than once in a short space of time, reasons that I'm sure a future employer would understand... provided I actually get the chance to explain it to them.

These are basically along the lines of me wanting a role that is more challenging and one that will progress my career in the right direction. I think this will be too long winded to properly explain in a cover letter however.

My concern is that they might not want to offer me an interview should I apply for a job, because they'll see on my CV that I've changed jobs a couple times within the space of 12–18 months already.

As a designer, I think it is my portfolio that is my main tool in order to get an interview (rather than what is down on paper). Might it be an idea for me to simply apply for jobs without a CV? and maybe hand them one at an interview?

That way I can explain my career history properly to them in person.

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    There could be all sorts of reasons for changing jobs. As long as your overall history does not show a risky pattern, maybe it is not as bad as you think. Hiding it is probably not a solution, though, because it will come up sooner or later. – Brandin Sep 9 '17 at 13:35
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    Also, you might be worried about nothing - 2 job changes in a year or two isn't too bad. What most of the job hopping advice is addressing is consistent short lived jobs over time - so 4 job changes in 2 years would raise an eyebrow, for example. – HorusKol Sep 9 '17 at 22:00
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You should include your job history in your CV. You are much more likely to get interviews that way.

The issue is how to frame the explanation in your cover letter. As mentioned in comments, it needs to be short. It also needs to explain why the reason for job hopping, no matter how justified, will not apply to the job you are seeking. Frequent job changes make hiring managers think you will use their job for a short term advantage, and quit around the time you are becoming really useful.

I suggest something along the lines of "I am seeking XXX type of challenge, and wish to pursue a career in direction YYY, leading to my recent changes of job. I believe I will be a good long term fit for [position for which you are applying] because [reasons]."

You need to state your strategy in terms that are consistent with both your recent job changes and with staying in the job for which you are applying.

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    +1 for highlighting that this time you plan to stay – Llewellyn Sep 9 '17 at 16:35
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Your job history might look bad and lead a potential employer to think badly of you but not including it at all will almost certainly be worse. Chances are they will end up assuming one of three things:

  1. you don't have a job history, which unless you are applying for entry level roles only will be a significant disadvantage

  2. that your job history is so bad that you need to hide it (and they will almost have to assume that it is the worst they can imagine)

  3. that you were too lazy or incompetent to apply correctly for the job (unless otherwise specified a CV including at least relevant job history is pretty much a standard thing to include)

And any of these will more than likely lead to the application being rejected out of hand - I just can't see any way that it will create a positive impression on the potential employer.

As others have said have said your cover letter is the best vehicle for mitigating the appearance of job hopping (and Patricia Shanahan's answer provided some really good language for that).

As you say for a designer the quality of their portfolio can provide a good sense of the work the candidate can produce and if a potential employer feels the same way about it that you do and you address the job hopping in the cover letter then hopefully the combination of those will encourage them to give you an interview where you can reassure them that you aren't intending to leave them quite so quickly.

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