The problem is that you are victim to what can be referred to as Frequent Job-Switching Syndrome (or FJSS). Those who suffer from FJSS may have impressive jobs listed on their resumes – that’s not the problem; the problem is that they’ve got way too many of them. Unfortunately, once you’re labeled as someone with FJSS, you may also receive the follow-up diagnosis of commitment-phobe, and that’s never a good label to acquire when you’re applying to business school. Not only do b-schools want to know that you have what it takes to complete the 1-2 years of their rigorous MBA program, but they also want to make sure that you’ll stick with your post-MBA position – at least for a long enough period so that you don’t damage the school’s relationship with that employer.
When it comes to explaining your Frequent Job-Switching Syndrome, there are good excuses (as you’ll read below) and bad excuses (like, I got bored, or I hated my boss). We suggest you use the good ones.
- You moved around a lot. You can’t (usually) keep one position for many years if you’re moving around a lot. Of course, you’re going to need to explain why you’ve needed to pick up and leave so many times in the last 5 years or so. You may want to explain how a sick parent required your presence half-way across the country after you’d only been working at your job for 6 months, or how your spouse got relocated at a moment’s notice…twice.
- You got laid off. Getting laid off happens to the best of us. And if you had to work at a not-so-great job just to pay the bills until you found another position in your field, then that’s completely understandable and could easily explain the job jumping.
- Your schedule shifted. There are many reasons why you may have needed to switch from part-time to full-time or from nighttime hours to daytime hours. If one job wasn’t flexible enough to handle your schedule change, then you may have had to leave one position to search for another.
- You weren’t ready to settle. You need to be careful not to tread the wishy-washy line here, but if you’re careful and honest, then it’s possible to use this excuse to your advantage. You may want to explain how one job wasn’t challenging enough or how it didn’t provide you with the long-term growth potential that you had been seeking, and so you had moved on to try and find “the one.”
It’s important that whichever of the above routes you take, you make sure that you explain how your Frequent Job-Switching Syndrome is only a temporary disease, and that with the right tools (i.e. a topnotch MBA education) and the right match, you plan on staying put in one position for the long haul (with room to grow). If possible, also show that your meandering prepared you for your post-MBA goal, that somehow these different experiences (or at least most of them) had some benefit that will help you in your future career.
Finally, be sure to explain your multiple positions in a straightforward manner; be honest; and focus on convincing the adcom that you are, despite how it may look, a very committed person.