What to Say When Employers Ask: Why so Many Jobs?

You’re no job hopper. You’ve been a great employee. You’ve worked hard. You’re loyal. Excellent performance. And yet, your resume makes you look like the Easter Bunny. So what do you say When Employers Ask, “Why So Many Jobs?”

It’s bad enough that employers have thrown you out on the street through no fault of your own. Maybe you’ve been doing project work because full time jobs are scarce. But now, the interviewer rubs salt in your wounds and asks, “Why have you had so many jobs?” What do you say?

Of course, the employer is thinking you’re some difficult employee who can’t hold a job. Your impulse is to get defensive and start rattling off a string of excuses. “Company 1 went out of business….Company 2 lost a contract and laid me off…the boss at Company 3 gave my job to the woman he was sleeping with….” You’ve done nothing wrong, but you sure sound like you did.

Here’s how you might answer this.

First, take care of your inner attitude. YOU must be OK with what happened. This doesn’t mean you wouldn’t like for things to have gone differently, but rather, that you’ve accepted the past, good and bad. There’s nothing wrong with you, rather, you ran into bad circumstances.

Then, you might say something like this: “I think a lot of us would love to stay at the same company for ten or twenty years like people used to do, but that’s just not reality these days. As you know, companies go out of business, lose contracts, relocate, merge, and downsize. A lot of good people have gotten caught in the middle of this.

I want to stress, tone is the key to making this work. You can’t be combatative or condescending, just matter-of-fact.

“For the record, I’ve never been fired or asked to leave (assuming this is true), and my employers will give you great references. I’ve accomplished a lot. Now, if you want, I could tell you about why I left each company. I’d prefer to spend our time talking about what you need and how I might help you. But you tell me. What should we talk about?”

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