For those of us who have had ventured adventurous-yet-painful post-college career - here six months, nine months there, never settling long - there is nothing more terrifying than being interviewed and heard hiring managers ask this question:
So ... You have enough background! You have done so many things. Tell me about it ...
Yikes, you are all over the place. It was cool but the experience ... too many things. It does not give me confidence in your stability.
You understand their concern - you've bounced around before, and you are likely to continue to do so. So why should they hire you?
In the year after I graduated from college, I worked for eleven different companies - some simultaneously, some projects, some full time. I do everything from eco-tourism and outdoor education to write a business plan and information design consultancy, including some pretty glamorous things in between (installing insulation and energy efficient home building rain barrels). During the saga, I asked "What's the deal with the bouncing around you?" Many questions. So much so that I decided to make my answer to the question that my main strength - my secret weapon.
Do not be fooled, it may feel like there is no response to win, but it did not happen. Do not miss the opportunity to turn this into a homerun knuckleball.
Follow these steps, and you will make them glad they asked:
1. Do not shy away from your past. Accept it.
You walk your path for a reason. Even if you are anxious and lost or not directed for the most part, you do not need to talk like that. Think again as a great adventure, full of twists and turns and intrigue - the stuff of legend! Talk about it with pride, with confidence, with a slight smile.
"Yes, those were the good old days! Some of my fondest memories, for sure."
2. Find a common thread, and use them to tell a good story.
No matter how random or varied your experience, there is always a common thread. You have interest, or experience you are looking for, or trying to develop your skills. So think hard, and find that thread. Use it to tell a story that says something about you as a person - something more interesting than just having "put in time" on the job for several years.
"Of course. Well, I think the best way to describe it is that my time looking for the best way to develop my creative side in a way that makes sense, in a way that actually benefit people and I could feel the impact. Was definitely it took some time to find it. "
3. Sell your flexibility.
Background is proof that you can handle the uncertainty and come out the better for it. They do not have to take the leap of faith that you can dive into new things and get your bearings quickly - the proof is there. In a world where every company and organization to move quickly in a changing landscape, and every hiring manager takes you to the boat quickly and painlessly as possible, this is a great trait to have. Use it as a source of confidence for yourself.
"I'm sure I can come up to speed this up quickly. Situation seems similar to when I did XYZ - and the project is going well in terms of blah blah blah. I also remember my time at ABC where the main challenge we face is [insert here] -. Such as this role / project "
4. Explaining why they are the exception to the rule.
Especially if you use a narrative that you're looking for something, it was a perfect lead-in to tell them why they are the company that can tame your wild heart once and for all. Do your homework, and be able to explain to them in detail why you think they've got what you've been looking for. The more specific, reasonable, and wholeheartedly you can, the better.
"I'm glad you asked. I think that's why I'm so excited about [their company here] is because I can tell that you have a mixture of X and Y that I've been looking for, and in an environment where I do not have to settle with regards to Z. To me, that's the holy grail.'s really my dream job. "
If you play this card, you must be in good condition. And relaxed, everyone career path winding and jumbled these days - so much less of a liability than you think. Make sure you know how to maintain it properly.