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Resume Writing Tip: Don’t Drop Jobs from Your Resume

Resume Writing Tip: Don’t Drop Jobs from Your Resume

Resume Writing Tip: Don't Drop Jobs from Your ResumeRecently, a number of job seekers have asked me if it’s okay to drop undesirable jobs from their resumes. The reasons varied, but most had to do with holding short-term positions, leaving jobs on bad terms, getting fired, and changing careers.In the past, I would have considered that approach. After all, a resume is a marketing piece and should present only the qualifications that would help “sell” the candidate. Now I’m revisiting this issue, and my advice is that you shouldn’t omit positions from your resume just to make your work history look more desirable.

Okay, I shouldn’t use absolutes. Someone asked if a job she held for several days can be dropped. Yes, it can! An extremely short-term job is not significant enough to be listed in your employment history. Also, if you’re only including employment history from the last 10-15 years or so, of course you can omit older jobs. As is the case for most resume strategy decisions, use your judgment.

Here are the top reasons why it’s usually not a good idea to omit jobs from the resume:

1. You will look like a liar when the employer finds out during a background check, and then you’ll have some explaining to do (if a job offer is still a possibility).

2. Although resumes aren’t officially signed, legal documents like applications are, employers are expecting you to provide a thorough, honest work history. The omitted job may go unnoticed for now, but could come back to haunt you after you’re hired. Your job–and reputation–could be in jeopardy.

3. In some cases, listing the job will look better than showing a “gap.” Yes, you were employed (even if for a short time), and that will remove the employer’s concern about what you were doing during that time period.

4. It doesn’t look as bad as you think it looks. I understand that it’s a competitive job market and everyone wants to have a “perfect” work history, but very few people offer such a history. You’re human. You took a job that was a bad fit. You got fired. So what? We tend to magnify our own flaws, even when others wouldn’t notice there’s a problem.I’m not saying that providing a complete, truthful work history is the easy approach. You could be hit with tough interview questions, but you should do fine if you anticipate the questions and prepare responses before heading into the interview.

The bottom line: You will get a new job, and can proceed with a clear conscience.

Best wishes,Kim Isaacs

  • whysquared

    Hi Kim,I have a question that is a variation on the “should I list all my jobs” question and am wondering if your answer would still be the same. Specifically, I took a new job less than three months ago, and though the job is OK, it is not where I see myself for the long term. Meanwhile, I am considering applying for a couple of other jobs that sound really interesting to me. Though I am currently working at a very reputable place, I am concerned that I don’t have any quantifiable achievements yet in this position. By contrast, I was at my two previous jobs for five years each and have many quantifiable and fairly impressive achievements in those cases. In addition, my current job is not nearly as relevant to the jobs I want to apply for as the one before that was (I was laid off from the previous job this summer due to major budget and staff cutbacks, and took the current job partially out of sheer necessity). Would it make sense to keep the current job off my resume and address it in a cover letter or interview? Or do you still think I should include it on my resume? Thanks for your help!

  • http://www.resumepower.com Kim Isaacs

    Hi whysquared! That’s a great question. I think you should still list this position. If you omit it, you will at some point have to explain why the job wasn’t listed on your resume, and employers might think you aren’t being honest about your background. Also, even though you don’t have many accomplishments yet, you can still talk about anticipated results, projected outcomes, reasons why you were recruited, etc. It seems like your previous experience is more of a selling point for you, so make your current description brief so that you can dedicate more space to relevant positions. I hope this helps, and good luck in your job search!

  • whysquared

    Thank you very much, Kim!

  • Nervous

    Hi Kim,I also have a variation to this question. I have a pretty stable work history over the past 7 years in terms of full-time jobs but I have taken a few part-time jobs over the years with the idea of earning extra income only to quit after a few weeks. I know it’s terrible; you’d think I would’ve learned not to do that, but I’m afraid a social security check will expose as many as 6 of these types of positions within 7 years. Any advice?Nervous