Why So Many Jobs in 5 Years ?

Why So Many Jobs in 5 YearsGood morning! Today, I'm answering questions from subscribers and giving the same straight-up honest "tell it like it is" advice I'd give my own family or my best friends.

Let's open with Joanne's question:

I am a 5+ year software QA engineer, and my resume is very well done (I receive a lot of calls with it). But I run into problems at the phone interview stage because they ask me the question that is on everyone's minds when they talk to me:

"Why so many jobs in 5 years?"


"Are these one year each consulting positions?"

They ask this every time, because for each year as a SQA engineer I have a different company/position listed.

In all honesty I've either been laid off, terminated, quit, or been a consultant for each of the positions.

How do I make my career road map more stable and appealing to possible employers? How do I get companies and positions I REALLY want to work for and with to want ME?

Lastly, how do I stop this roller coaster of employers from either laying me or terminating me off all the time?

It seems that 1 year has become my new "length of employment" for Joanne! And I truly want ANYTHING but! I'm a career person, and I seek (desperately) security and stability in a position. Help!

Thanks for sharing Joanne. I appreciate you writing in and sorry that the last few years have been such a rollercoaster career-wise. I have a few thoughts about this, and hopefully they'll help you.

First, let's examine the deeper issue here, and then we'll come back to the interview strategy.

I'd love for you to stay in your next job for a long time. So here's my question for you Joanne:

What happened at each of these roles that caused you to stop working there? Look beyond the immediate obvious answers. With so many transitions, is there a pattern?

What kind of feedback did you get from colleagues or your managers?

Even now, you can reach out to previous managers (especially from the last four or five years ago) and ask for candid feedback. I might say, "My career has not progressed as I would have liked over the past few years, and I want to figure out why. So, I was hoping you would share with me honestly, what did you think of my work? Is there anything I could have done differently that would have caused greater satisfaction with my perfomance ?"

It may be the case that you feel forced into accepting roles that you know, deep down, aren't a good fit for you. Do you think that could be it? Or do you notice a change in your outlook between the six-month mark and twelve months?

You need to do some introspection. For each role, try to remember the circumstances of your leaving and understand what caused it.

There's a pattern there somewhere, and when you know what the real issue is, you'll know what you need to solve.


How can we make your career history more appealing to the kinds of hiring managers that are looking for a long-term "star" employee?

It ties into the work you need to do for above.

Let's look at this from the point of view of the hiring manager:

They're looking at your resume, and they like what they see. (We know they do, because your resume gets a lot of calls Joanne.) However, they also see that you've never stayed longer than a year.

The good news for you is, being in tech, employers are more forgiving of frequent job switchers.

So, yes, they're a bit worried about your track record, but what they really want to hear is that you are ready to settle down. You need that simple answer that reassures them, and you need to deliver it with confidence:

"Yes, I've been part of a couple of company layoffs and also taken on some project-based contract roles. At this point though, I am really excited to move into a position for the long term. What excites me about working with you is..."

Good luck! And keep me posted.

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Alan Carniol

Alan is the creator of Interview Success Formula, a training program that has helped more than 40,000 job seekers to ace their interviews and land the jobs they deserve. Interviewers love asking curveball questions to weed out job seekers. But the truth is, most of these questions are asking about a few key areas. Learn more about how to outsmart tough interviewers by watching this video.