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Explaining Short Stays on Resumes

In the absence of information, our brains fill in the blank. 🧠

This cannot be more true than when hiring managers are looking at "short stays" on resumes. A short stay is commonly seen as <1-2 years in a single position. Unfortunately, many hiring managers see shorter tenures as a red flag and interpret this info in a few common ways:

1) They can't commit to a job. 😡

2) They must be difficult to work with. 😡

3) They are a low performer. 😡

How to combat that? Here are a few easy fixes:

1) Explain the reason for transitions. It can be a simple sentence below the information with your job title, org name, and dates of employment. Some examples:

- Org downsized because of XYZ.

- I took time-off for personal and/or family situation.

- Org went in a different strategic direction.

- I went to graduate school to pursue a degree in XYZ.

- I was recruited to new position at XYZ. (Be careful with this one, as you don't want to convey you are easily recruited away.)

2) If the job wasn't the right fit, this is a bit trickier to concisely explain. I would avoid explanations like "My boss was terrible" or "It was a toxic work environment." Instead, you can flip the script to "Org did not reflect my personal values of XYZ" or something that shows what's important to you in the workplace and what you need to thrive.

3) Make sure you include what you did accomplish during your time at an organization, even if it was over a short amount of time. Detailing your impact can go a long way, such as "Raised $1M in first six months through new funders" or "Led the implementation of a new Salesforce CRM" or whatever cool stuff you achieved.

4) If you truly are happiest changing jobs frequently, consider a career as a consultant and/or in a fractional role. Sticking at a company for a long time isn't for everyone. Look into consulting firms in your field of expertise or even consider going out on your own!

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