For most Job Seekers, the focus is solely on finding a position that you hope to stay at for a long-term. Of course, in today’s world, the definition of long-term has changed from “having the same job to retirement” towards something that would probably be 5 or more years. Most Job Seekers are not seeking to change positions every few years (or even more often!) due to the effort and stress associated with looking for work. It also may give you the reputation of being a “job hopper”.
There are situations, however, when a person may know that their tenure is more likely to be short-term in nature. I am referring to more than months (you should probably just go to a staffing agency in this situation) and usually in terms of a few years. There are lots of reasons why this situation may occur, such as being a military spouse, being a spouse whose work may take them elsewhere, to just having some eventual plans to move. I know in my career, I once hired the spouse of a college basketball coach who did quite well during her time, but she did have to leave after 3 years when her spouse changed schools.
Your first inclination may be that you won’t tell the Hiring Manager. This may work (if you are ethically OK with it), but is not likely to be successful if you have some work history on your resume that reflects this more nomadic lifestyle. In this case, you probably have to acknowledge the situation while stressing the positive attributes that you have gained during your career.
So, how do you go about doing this? What are the possible positive attributes you have gathered during your career working short-term assignments? Let’s examine several that you can use with the Hiring Manager.
• Quickly Explain the Difference: If you have several short-terms, then you will want to get in front of this and separate yourself from the people who have bounced between jobs due to poor performance, attendance, or general lack of work ethic. If you have recently arrived in Western New York due to your spouse (or some other reason), then state this information in your Cover Letter.
• Stress Your References: Pre-assemble strong references that will serve to validate everything that you are saying about yourself. Coach your references so that when your prospective employer calls, they are ready to address and resolve any concerns that the Hiring Manager may have at the time.
• You’re a Quick Learner: Sell your ability to learn new methods, policies, and procedures quickly. Reinforce how your learning curve will be short, allowing you to maximize the time you will spend with the company. A Hiring Manager with an open position(s) is probably grossly overworked due to covering both jobs, and could use the relief that comes with an experienced hire with a small learning curve.
• You Fit In Well: If you have moved around some, then you are used to acclimating yourself quickly with different teams. Stress how you are a team player that works well with others (and you have the references that will validate this!).
• You Will Give Plenty of Notice: If the Hiring Manager brings it up, assure him or her that you will provide plenty of notice in order to allow recruitment of your replacement. If you can convince the Hiring Manager that you will not quickly depart for another job, she or he may be more willing to take a chance on you. Also, commit to communicating to your Manager so that there will not be any surprises.
• Focus on Roles That Fit Short-Term: You could also take the approach of focusing on positions that align with the amount of time you expect to be in the role. For example, if the employer is looking for labor resources to cover a particular contract or project, then your potential short-term status may actually be desired. The ultimate may be a position that would allow you to work remotely if your situation would change, allowing you to stay in the role.
Being a Job Seeker can be difficult enough without having a work history consisting of short-term stints due to things such as the military or relocation for personal reasons, among others. Like with most things in life, honesty is the best policy in this situation. So, outline the potential for your departure, but also the incredible experiences you have gathered working for different employers. Hiring Managers tend to shy away from unpredictability, but your assurance that you will learn quickly, fit in well, and leave on good terms should alleviate any concern.
As always, best of luck in your job search!
The following has been prepared for the general information of RochesterJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.
WNY Human Resources Professional
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