How recruiters think when they see a CV with many job changes

Do you have a CV with many short employments? Have you thought about the impact this has on your career prospects and future job search? Find out what professional recruiters think when they see a CV like yours.

As professional recruiters, we at Compass Human Resources Group see a lot of CVs. But what is the significance of the lengths of the employments listed on a CV? We asked our recruiters what their immediate interpretation is when a CV involves many job changes and short tenures.

Too many job changes can signal instability and lack of persistence

When a recruiter sees a CV where there have been a lot of short employments, it’s first and foremost a point of attention that he or she wants to hear more about.

For many recruiters, it is a concern when the CV consists of a number of short employments.

“As a general rule, this is not a good sign, as it indicates that there, multiple times, have been problems or a mismatch between the candidate and the organisation. But the more frequent it is, the more you are prone to believe that the candidate is the problem,” says Mai Rishøj Madsen, Research Consultant at Compass Human Resources Group. She is supported by Senior Research Consultant, Patrick Lyon Veirum:

“Many short-term employments gives cause to examine the reasons for the changes. Over time, it has become more usual to change jobs several times during one’s career. The definition of short employment has therefore also shifted. However, several employments of around 1-2 years could cause concern for a prospective employer and make them wonder how long a candidate might stick around before they move on to the next opportunity, as well as what challenges can and have been associated with having them employed.”

Have a good explanation for your short employments

No matter how many short employments you’ve had, it’s important for many of Compass’ recruiters to look at why the hires have been short. Is it because of bankruptcies, restructuring or mass redundancies? Or is it because you find it difficult to stay in the same place for a long time?

“If there are no good explanations and no history of longer employments, then the alarm bells will start ringing,” says Ida Heuser, Research Consultant at Compass Human Resources Group.

When are short employments positive?

A good explanation for some short hires can be career-related – especially if you’re a recent graduate. If you’re a recent graduate and at the start of your career, a few evolving job changes may even be looked upon favourably.

“In the first part of your career after graduation, a few short employments of 2-3 years can easily indicate that you are an ambitious person who wants to upskill and expand your competencies especially if you can see a development in the positions you have held,” says Research Manager Pernille Hemmingsen, who is joined by Senior Consultant Thorsten Andersen:

“The younger the candidate, the greater the acceptance of many changes. The candidate may settle down with age/experience”.

But what about very long tenures? How do recruiters view them?

Few job changes can testify to stability and persistence

Diving into CVs with very few or almost only one job can be a sign of stability and fidelity, but it’s not necessarily all good.

“Long tenures and few job changes are not by definition good for your career, but longer tenures give you the opportunity to see more sides of the company – both when things are going well and when things are going badly. This experience can be used in several organisations in terms of what has worked particularly well in which situations,” Mai Rishøj Madsen says.

On the other hand, being in the same job for too many years can also be a sign of a lack of adaptability and of being stuck in your job:

“Too few job changes and long tenures can make a recruiter question whether you’re dealing with a less dynamic and change-resistant person. It is generally good for your career not to stay too long in the same company, or if you do, to change internally so that you develop yourself and your skills,” Pernille Hemmingsen points out.

The increasing number of short-term employments is part of a general trend

More and more Danes are changing jobs. It is therefore not surprising that more and more people have had short-term jobs and it is becoming more common for graduates to have had multiple job changes and short tenures. But this also places demands on companies.

“We are moving into a time where many job changes are becoming the norm because it is considered that this builds experience – that you get many nuances from different companies. Conversely, I think many organisations going forward will need to make some key retention strategies to ensure the best workforce for a longer period of time. It is expensive to hire new employees all the time,” says Mai Rishøj Madsen.

For many, staying in the same job for many years is no longer nearly as important and we will only see more of this development in the future:

“I think we are starting to become more open to more job changes, also because the young generation today jumps more from one thing to another. And if we want to get that generation into the jobs we need to fill, we need to be more open to that,” concludes Consultant Maria Mathiasen.

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