Are You a Nurse Job-Hopper? | The Nurse Keith Show, EPS 175

Are you a nurse who has been labeled as a job-hopper? Are you trying to overcome the stigma of having too many short-term positions on your nursing resume? Well, a recent blog post at this episode of The Nurse Keith Show will set you straight!

Here are some highlights from that original post. Please listen to the episode and read the entire blog post to get the full effect!

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average time employees remain in any given position is 4.2 years (based on 2016 data). And reports that the typical worker changes jobs 12 times throughout their career. (For traveling nurses, it’s a very different story since your job requires you to move around to new positions on a regular basis, and this is very easily explained on a resume, in a cover letter, and/or during a job interview.)

A helpful Ajilon job-hopping infographic puts it all into perspective: generational differences are very apparent when it comes to attitudes about job-hopping and career-building. Based on data from this infographic (which illustrates findings from a survey), we know the following:

  • 13% of Millennials believe it’s important to stay in a position for at least 5 years
  • 41% of Baby Boomers believe it’s important to stay in a position for at least 5 years
  • 26% of Millennials believe it’s not necessary to remain at a job for more than a year, and 20% were planning to leave their current position within 1-2 years
  • 83% of Millennials surveyed felt that job-hopping could damage their reputation, but 86% stated that they wouldn’t let that keep them from going after their dream job
  • 62% of people in general feel that job-hopping is damaging to one’s career prospects
  • 39% of recruiters believe that job-hopping is a major obstacle to being hired
  • The average salary increase when staying in the same job is 3% annually; meanwhile, the average salary increase when changing jobs is 10-20%
  • Many employers believe that job-hopping is less acceptable once you reach your mid-thirties

Most Baby Boomers and Generation X’ers seem to have generally embraced the classic notion that having at least two years at any given position will insulate them from being branded as unreliable and disloyal employees. For Millennials, things are beginning to shift, but until the Millennial generation takes over the majority of positions in Human Resources, administration, and recruitment, the older paradigm will continue to hold sway.

As noted in the statistics quoted above, there is a stark difference between Millennials and Baby Boomers in regards to how long to remain in any given position. For their part, Generation X’ers like myself have likely adhered to the viewpoint of the larger Baby Boom generation, especially since most people of influence and decision-making power have up until now been Baby Boomers.

If you’re a nursing professional whose resume is populated with many positions lasting less than a year, there are some strategies that you can employ on your own behalf. And until the person reviewing your resume is a Millennial or other leader with a more forgiving opinion of job-hopping, certain approaches may help more than others in terms of getting a foot in the door.

Strategy #1:

If your resume makes it look like you can’t hold down a job, consider switching from a chronological to a functional format. In a functional resume, skills and experience are grouped in terms of function/skill rather than simply based on time. If there are groups of positions that fit under one category (e.g.: med-surg nursing), group them together under that heading. While this won’t necessarily fool a skilled resume reviewer, it simply makes the chronology of your career less front and center.

Strategy #2:

Having a very strongly written professional/career summary at the top of your resume will also serve to distract from the chronology of your resume while also taking the opportunity to tell your story and paint the picture you want painted of who you are as a nursing professional.

Strategy #3:

If certain jobs ended due to no fault or action of yours, make a case for that. You may have been laid off, or perhaps your hospital was bought by another entity and jobs were cut. Feel free to elucidate such factual information.

Strategy #4:On your resume, leave off the months and simply state the years you were in a position. For example, if you started at a position in November of 2016 and left in January of 2018, simply say that you were there from 2016 to 2018.

Strategy #5: For those with a significant history of job-hopping, I almost always recommend expanding the job search process to include assiduous and assertive networking. A considerable percentage of jobs are found through personal/professional connections rather than through job postings; in fact, some estimates are that up to 70% of jobs are filled through networking rather than responses to ads or the blind submission of resumes into electronic black holes.

If you’re considering hopping away to a new job, there are a number of questions to ask yourself before taking the leap. Consider the following:

  • Why am I feeling the need to leave? What is it about my current job that makes me want to abandon ship? 

  • If my job feels less than stellar, is there anything I can change to make it feel more rewarding? Is there anything I need to take responsibility for in terms of it not working out like I wanted?

  • Are there opportunities for promotion or lateral movement within the same organization? Can I change jobs without changing employers? 

  • What do I want out of my career in the next five years? What job(s) can help me get there? 

  • Am I creating the career trajectory that I truly want? What needs to change so that my level of satisfaction is exponentially higher? 

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    Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BCIn case you didn’t already know, Nurse Keith is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, keynote and motivational speaker, and popular career columnist. With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses.

    From 2012 until its sunset in 2017, Keith co-hosted RNFMRadio, a groundbreaking nursing podcast.

    As of May of 2018, Keith is the host of Mastering Nursing, an interview-style podcast showcasing inspiring, forward-thinking nurse thought leaders and innovators.

    Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. Keith can be found on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram—as well as at

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