How to Present a String of Short Term Jobs on a Resume

Some industries naturally foster high mobility, while others have undergone major turmoil causing businesses to come and go quickly.  Regardless of the cause, if you held a number of short term jobs, presenting your work history can be a challenge. 

The challenge comes balancing two priorities.  First, you want to highlight your current experience and skills.  Second, you want to emphasize your stability and reliability.  Putting the jobs at the top of your resume satisfies the first priority but also highlights the lack of stability.

There are a couple of solutions.  First, you can choose a functional or hybrid structure.  In these structures, you focus the resume on your skills.  Near the top of your resume, you list the key skills you want to promote and provide a detailed description of your experience and accomplishments with each skill.  This can be very effective in technical careers.

Your goal with a functional or hybrid structure is not to hide your work history.  You still need to show where you worked with start and end dates.  The goal is to craft a sales presentation for your background focused on your strengths.  Trying to hide your work history will backfire.  At some point, a hiring manager is going to ask about your work history.  If you have created a false perception, when the hiring manager learns the truth, it will cast doubt on everything else in your background.

A second option to consider is listing your work experience and explaining the reasons for leaving each job.  If you have worked for a series of companies that all closed or downsized, explaining this situation can help.  It explains to the hiring manager why you didn’t stay where you were.  You should keep this brief, only a few words.  Provide just enough for the hiring manager to understand the cause. 

Choosing which option to take will depend on the elements you want to emphasize.  You may want to highlight one or two employers because of the reputation of the companies.  This requires a chronological resume with your work history near the top of your resume.  If you want to emphasize technical skills, consider the functional structure.  If you choose the functional structure, this doesn’t preclude you from also explaining why you left each position.  You can do both.