Stable Work History?

Avatar for Cmmelissa
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-13-2008
Stable Work History?
Fri, 07-26-2013 - 4:11pm

AOL has an article talking about companies having the requirement of "stable work history" on their advertisement:

Stable employees are better workers?: In an interview with AOL Jobs, James Porter, the CEO of the Porter Group, said that his clients -- employers that he wouldn't identify -- wanted him to include this language. He defended "stable work history" as a way to screen out job-hoppers. Employers "want to see people who are going to be part of the company, and grow with the company," says Porter. "They're going to spend a lot of time training them."

Read more:

While this is in reference to job hoppers, there also is a concern that it's a way to weed out the unemployed.  Has this been something you've seen when looking for jobs?

Avatar for lizmvr
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-06-2001
Fri, 08-16-2013 - 12:13pm

I've certainly had companies tell me that they're too afraid of me job hopping to offer me a position with their organization. I've had employment spans of various lengths, from months at contract jobs to 4 years at other employers. I personally don't feel that four years is a short amount of time, especially in my early 30s and in my line of work. I also always try to counter the job hopping concerns by letting prospective employers know that often I was following a manager from one company to another because that manager liked working with me. I also try to point out projects that I've completed, especially if I completed them in record short times.

I think there are ways to address the "unstable" work history, but of course, it's sometimes difficult to get to a point to actually speak with a hiring manager to explain.


Clinical Research Associate


Community Leader
Registered: 01-03-2004
Sat, 08-31-2013 - 6:44pm


I find this an interesting topic as I work with unemployed and first-time job seekers as part of my job.

Employment "history" is a two-edged sword for most people. It should be black and white: either you have a "work history" or you don't. Right?

Well, here's what I know from my own career-adapations and what I see across the desk when coaching job hunters.

1)A "steady job history" may include several jobs: seasonal jobs, temporary jobs, and jobs that ended for some reason before you had a chance to work somewhere for more than 12 months. Perhaps you have worked in a clerical capacity for several different employers, just not one employer the whole time.

2)A negative "spotty job history" may include starts and stops of several weeks or months at different types of jobs, i.e. fast food, clerical, and factory work. All different industries as opposed to one industry.

I tell my clients two things when they are unemployed and seeking work:

1)Always be prepared to talk about what you are doing to develop yourself while unemployed or between jobs. Did they volunteer, work part-time, work temp, or go to school, or some combination of activities. This shows a potential employer you aren't sitting on your hands while you're unemployed. As a hiring manager I always gave first preference to someone who was actively engaged in something while unemployed. It told me they didn't let the grass grow under their feet. I never counted a part-time job (retail, fast food, etc) against someone in a "professional" job search because it told me they were taking care of their bills and their families while they waited for that professional opening. That also told me they weren't going to be twiddling their thumbs if I hired them because they had "nothing to do."

2)The unemployed unengaged person is less attractive to an employer because it speaks loudly of their character. If you "sit on your hands" while unemployed and whine about not being able to get a job; how are you going to act if I hire you? (Conclusion: probably the same way.)

In my experience, those with "spotty" job histories, i.e. multiple jobs over a short period of time, are most likely to be proven to have difficulty dealing with authority, keeping a schedule, and following instructions. And if I call their previous supervisors and ask, that's usually the story. When I ask the candidate to explain their frequent job changes I usually get "blame the employer" stories i.e. "they fired me for being late, didn't tell me what to do, or didn't give me enough hours." While some of these things may be true (because employers can be jerks too) the majority of the time these individuals can't hold down a job because they can't adhere to conventions or follow the rules. Plain and simple.

As one who has changed careers multiple times I know it takes extra effort to explain to a potential employer how the knowledge and skills obtained in one profession or job can transfer to the new job. I trained as print journalist (pre-internet, cell phone and email). I had excellent writing skills but I also had to be an expert salesman, researcher, and communicator (verbal and written). I have carried those skills forward through 5 different careers, I just use them differently. An employer won't hire you if you stay married to a job title of old. You have to sell your skill set. That's what's kept me gainfully and steadily employed since 1984.