You’ve got a strong transcript, a solid GPA, and you aced the GMAT. You know you’re a strong candidate for pretty much any top MBA program. There’s just one thing standing in your way…your resume.
You’ve had some good jobs—that’s not the problem. The problem is that you’ve had too many of them, very close to each other. You’re afraid that your job switching past may make the adcoms write you off as a commitment-phobe. Of course, you know that’s not the case. But how do you convince the adcoms that each time you left a position, you had good reason for doing so? Even if you choose to use a functional resume format, there’s no way adcoms won’t notice your frequent job habit.
Defenses like: “I got bored,” or “It just wasn’t for me,” or “I hated my boss,” won’t really help your case. You’ll need to explain your fast-paced job changing action with a bit more detail.
Valid reasons for switching jobs:
1. You moved. While picking up and moving every few months may require an explanation on its own, it certainly does provide a valid explanation for frequent job changing. Let’s say you had one job during your senior year in Boston, then graduated and moved to D.C. where you landed a second job, and then one of your parents fell ill and you decided to move back home to San Diego to help out, where you got yet another job. While three jobs in the span of a year (or less) is generally frowned upon, your explanation make sense and doesn’t cast any shadow on your abilities to hold down a job.
2. Your schedule changed. You had been working part-time while you were in school, and then, upon graduation switched to a full-time job.
3. You were laid off. You had a job you liked and where you were liked, but were laid off during the recession, found a job to pay the bills, and then found another job that put you back on your desired career path.
4. You had trouble finding a good job match. While this explanation could make you appear a bit wishy-washy, if it’s true, then you should present your case carefully and honestly. While searching for “the one,” you came across some duds that you just didn’t jive with. Maybe they weren’t challenging enough. Maybe they didn’t help you actualize your potential. Maybe you were seeking more of a long-term growth position then these offered. Explain your case maturely—use reasons that don’t show that you’re afraid of job commitment, but that you just wanted more out of a job and were having some bad luck landing the right one.
Make sure to show growth and increased responsibility either as a motivator for some of the job changes or simply as a constant in your meandering.
If everything else on your application suggests that you should be accepted to the b-school of your choice, then it’s unlikely that a fickle resume will get you dinged…just so long as you explain the multiple positions and convince the adcoms that you are, in fact, an extremely committed person, who, post-graduation hopes to find a job that you’ll accept and keep for the long haul.