COVID-19 has changed the career landscape in countless ways. Many people lost their jobs, left the workforce to take care of their children, or resigned because of issues with vaccine mandates. As a result, the pandemic has made job-hopping more normalized and more acceptable. More than ever, people are changing jobs when they need to, regardless of their length of employment. However, those who move from job to job after short stints (less than a year) may still be viewed as job hoppers.

While there’s no official definition of job hopping, I describe it as a repeated pattern of leaving a position after less than a year. I’m currently working with a client who took a job that turned out to be quite different than expected, and now, less than eight months later, she's changing again. Sometimes a brief work period like that is necessary, and it doesn't make you a job hopper if it happens once. However, some people habitually move from job to job—and that’s where the stigma comes in.

If you find yourself wanting to job search again after just a couple of months in a position, you need to ask yourself why. It’s important to know your career values and priorities. Otherwise, you’ll have difficulty finding a position that makes you happy. I discuss this in detail during my podcast episode “Your Job Won't Make You Happy.

As you think about your values and priorities, ask yourself whether the benefits of leaving the job outweigh the risks. If you're just feeling bored or under-challenged in your role, there may be things that you can do to improve the situation. You could try speaking up and asking for what you need, whether it’s additional responsibilities, more money, etc. We all know that no job is going to be great all the time. Ask yourself if it's necessary to leave for the sake of your personal and professional satisfaction and well-being, or if the situation can be fixed or improved.

I’m often asked how to explain during a job interview why you left a position, especially if it was after a short period of time. The truth is always the best place to start. As you think about your reason for leaving, decide how much information and detail you want to share. You never want to badmouth a manager or company, but at the same time, it’s important to explain the situation. The goal is to be as authentic and positive as possible without providing more details than necessary.

 Here are two scenarios and how to address them during an interview: 

  1. You left a job after discovering the position was very different from what you were led to believe when you were hired.

You could say:

“Based on the job description and the interview, I was under the impression that I would be doing XYZ type of work. After being there for six months, I realized that wasn’t the case and in fact, I’d be doing much less XYZ work than I expected. Though I didn't plan on leaving so soon, it was right move for me. It’s important that my skills and career goals are aligned with a position so that I can stay for a long period of time. I'm excited about this opportunity with your company because it seems like a better fit, especially because I will be doing XYZ type of work.”

  1. The position itself is fine, but you have the boss from hell. In this case, you need to be more careful explaining the situation, so it doesn’t look like you’re laying blame on the other person.

You could say:

Although I enjoyed the job very much and I was very good at it, there were challenges within the company culture that made it impossible for me to stay. I work best in an open, positive, and collaborative environment, and that was not the case there. I tried to improve the situation and had conversations with a number of people, but things didn’t change. One of the many reasons I'm excited about the opportunity at your company is because of the great things I’ve heard about the culture and I think it would be a good match.”

In these and other scenarios, once you finish explaining the situation, shift the conversation in a different direction by asking the employer a question. This enables you to maintain control while refocusing the employer’s attention on a new topic. Honesty is the best policy, as long as it’s presented in a way that’s tactful, professional, and without oversharing.

For more on this topic, listen to episode 105 of the Career UpRising podcast: How to Explain Job Hopping on iTunes or at
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