Let’s Change The Way You Explain Job Changes…
Let’s Change The Way You Explain Job Changes…
November 3, 2022

Sometimes we don’t know exactly what to do.

For instance, we might decide a certain job is right for us, but soon thereafter discover we were wrong.

Or we might think we know how to explain job changes to potential employers, but are we really so sure?

Today, we’re going to unravel the mystery of what to do — at least when it comes to explaining your job changes!

Plus, we’ll look at the pros and cons of job hopping, and the definition of “job hopping” according to most employers so you can know how often you can safely change jobs.

Let’s go!

What is “Job Hopping”?

Different employers see it differently, so you won’t get one exact definition. Let’s look at how most employers define job hopping though…

In general, you’ll be labeled a “job hopper” if you have a pattern of staying in jobs for less than a year. So that’s part of the definition of job hopping.

You’re generally allowed one or two “free passes” in your career, though (depending on how long you’ve been working). Not every job is a good fit, so if you left one job in under a year, it’s usually okay and easy to explain.

Also, if you’ve been working for a couple of years or more in your career, and you’ve never stayed with a company for more than two years, it can also make you seem like a job hopper – even if you always stay past the one-year milestone.

For example, if you’ve held three jobs since graduating, and have left after 15 months, 19 months, and 12 months, that’s going to bring up some job hopping concerns, even though you stayed a full year at each.

So, to recap the definition of job hopping:

  • Leaving jobs after less than a year, especially if you’ve done it more than once.
  • Having multiple jobs in your work history, but only staying in each job for one year or slightly longer (and never making it past two years).
  • Now that you have an idea of the definition of job hopping and how employers decide if they should be concerned, here’s how to explain job hopping to them, in your cover letter and more…

How do I explain job hopping on my resume?

This is a trick question — you don’t explain it on your resume itself! This is PRECISELY where a cover letter comes in handy!

If you read the definition of job hopping above, you’ll know if your situation will cause concerns with employers. If so, you’ll want to be upfront and address these concerns in a cover letter.

Steps to explain job hopping in a cover letter:

  • Find the job changes that you think will cause the most concern for employers
  • Address those job changes directly in your cover letter and offer an explanation for why you made the decision you did
  • Never complain or bad-mouth former employers or bosses
  • Try to sound like you changed positions to gain something positive whenever possible
  • Be upfront and use clear/direct language. If you resigned from a job because it wasn’t working out, say, “I chose to resign because ___.” Don’t say, “we parted ways,” or some other confusing term.
  • Conclude by showing them that you know what you want in your next role, and that their job fits this. They won’t hire you if you don’t show them solid reasons for why you want their job
  • One of the hardest parts about explaining job hopping in a cover letter is how to bring it up to begin with.

I’d recommend saying something like this: “If you look at my resume, you’ll see a couple of quick transitions between companies…”

And then jump right into the explanations: “I left XYZ Company because ___. I then found a position with ABC Company…”

Keep this entire explanation brief. 2-3 short paragraphs or less.

Don’t fill your cover letter with a huge explanation of why you changed jobs. The goal is to just give a brief explanation of why you made the choices you did, to show them you’re being upfront and you’re willing to discuss further in an interview.

What is a good reason for hopping jobs?

Now you might be wondering: how do you know if your reason for leaving a job is good enough?

Here are some examples of good ways of explaining job hopping that should satisfy employers:

  • Your boss left and the work environment changed
  • Your role changed or shifted away from what they hired you to do
  • You hit a “ceiling” and couldn’t grow and advance as fast as you wanted
  • A better, more attractive opportunity came up and you had to pursue it (most employers will understand doing this at least once in your career)
  • You had a personal/life issue come up – like caring for a sick family member, needing major surgery or medical care, etc.
  • Staying home to raise a child
  • Leaving a job to pursue further education/training to advance your career in the long-term

How should I explain job hopping at my interview?

If you did a good job of explaining your reasons for job hopping in your cover letter, you’ll get invited to an interview. But how about what to say in job interviews when you’re asked further questions?

First, review the cover letter you sent and get your story straight.

You don’t want to say something different or get your stories crossed up in the interview! You need to be 100% consistent here.

And if you interview with multiple people, you need to give the same story. So make sure you know exactly what you sent them in the cover letter BEFORE walking into any interview, whether it’s a first phone interview or a face-to-face meeting.

Next, be upfront and take responsibility.

Don’t seem like you’re uncomfortable or trying to hide something. That will just make them uncomfortable hiring you.

Your goal in the interview is to calmly explain the reasons you mentioned in your cover letter. Provide more detail and explain yourself until they are satisfied (if you’re not sure, you can always say, “did that answer your question, or should I go into more detail?”)

Finally, conclude by showing them why you’re excited about their position.

Explain what you’re looking for right now in your job search, and how your research showed that this is a good fit for your skills and for what you want to do next in your career.

If you don’t seem sure of what you want, and if you don’t have a good answer for why you want this job, you will not get hired.


Whether you’re quick and nimble, or slow and steady — when it comes to transitioning in your career, ReStart is here to help you win the race!

For free help with resumes, interviews, and finding that new job to transition to, call or write to us today!