“Um, So Like, Why Did You Like, Hop Around So Much?”

Alex Niemi
3 min readJun 15, 2023

Recruiters enjoy asking me this question, verbatim, or some version of it, as do interviewers and hiring managers. What I want to say is:

“Why do you think dude? It was a terrible job, at a terrible company, filled with terrible and toxic people. I was doing myself and my family a disservice by staying in an unhealthy environment like that, so I moved on.

Why is that so hard to understand? Why is that frowned upon?… because you, personally, didn’t have the gumption to stand up for yourself, or didn’t value your limited hours of life-energy enough to leave one of the many jobs that you hated in the past? Well, don’t judge me through your lens of cowardice.”

But really, the statement above applies only to a minority of jobs that I’ve had in my life. Many, perhaps most, I stayed with for as long as I believed that some good outcome could be achieved. The problem is that most of those jobs don’t fit onto a tidy single-page or dual-page resume that recruiters want to see. Even if they did fit, they’d be hideously inappropriate for a technical resume. Thus, the recruiters see a smattering of stuff and an incomplete history. The truth is…

I Didn’t Hop Around

I was a commercial fisherman for TWELVE (12) YEARS. I’ve spent thousands of hours on the open ocean (in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington) in worse weather, seas, and storms than you can ever imagine. I did most of this in relatively small (30-foot) fishing boats. Read it again. Twelve years of shit that most people wouldn’t last a single day at.

For FIVE (5) YEARS, I sold vacuums, microwaves, sewing machines, refrigerators, and freezers as a COMMISSION-ONLY salesman for Sears Roebuck & Co. I had a career as commission salesman; my co-workers were shocked when I announced my departure because they considered me a “lifer.” Commission sales is a tough business and five years is a long time. Note: I use the word “salesman” because I am, in fact, a man. Moreover, this word has more specificity than does “salesperson.” So, don’t give me shit about using a gender-specific noun; it’s appropriate here.

For SEVEN (7) YEARS, I was employed as an engineer at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. It was my first job after college. No hopping. Seven solid years of service to a company that helps keep America safe. “Murrica.”

In 2017, my wife and I moved to San Diego (from Los Angeles) so that she could pursue a new job opportunity with a company located there. I left my job at Verizon Digital Media Services (VDMS) after almost TWO (2) YEARS of working there to start my own company. The timing was right and working remotely wasn’t an option (at that company and role) at the time. VDMS was a universally terrible company that, shortly after my departure, fully imploded and sold off its assets at fire-sale prices. I tried my very best to help VMDS turn things around but it was swamped with bobble-heads (ineffective management) and psychopaths. Despite that, I stayed for almost two years, which was two years longer than I should have.

I’ve spent more than FIVE (5) YEARS running, managing, and maintaining the company that I started in 2017. For the past THREE (3) YEARS, I’ve also owned and operated a Property Management company located in Texas, and I will continue running this company indefinitely in the future.

I have grit; more than you’ll ever know. I stick to it, and I get it done. It’s who I am.

Having said all of that, the thing that I am NOT — the thing that I will never be — is a dead-eyed corporate drone that can’t think for himself, and doesn’t see the writing on the wall saying “Bud, it’s time to go.”

Does that answer your question?

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Alex Niemi

I'd write more if I didn't spend all of my time coding.