Does Omitting a Job On Your Resume Make you a Liar?

Times are a-changing. Hannah Montana is dead. Gay marriage is legal (in some circles). Iran’s new President has publicly recognized the Holocaust. And, the United States government can’t get their shit together. OK, well that’s not so new.

In the hiring industry, things have changed as well. Two-page resumes are the norm. Objectives are dead. Skype interviews are more prevalent, and people are job-hopping more than ever before. But, while video interviews and resume transformations have generally been embraced, most hiring managers still don’t like to spend time with job hoppers.

It used to be that people stayed with one company for 10 years before making career moves. In digital media, many of the companies we see haven’t even been in business for 10 years. And, those that do exist tend to go through serious growing pains.  That’s why we see so many people going from one company to another after only one or two years.

Reasons for frequent mobility run the gamut, but typically include:

  • The company made promises that they couldn’t keep;
  • The business wasn’t ready to scale as quickly as anticipated;
  • The company couldn’t deliver on its promises with clients;
  • The business burned through three CEOs in the past 12 months;
  • The company closed their doors or switched business models

 

The truth is, when you send your resume to a potential employer, you have an average of six seconds to make an impression. By the seventh second, the HR Director or hiring manager will have made a decision on whether or not to interview you.  If you have had three jobs in the past five years, whoever is reading your resume will be hyper-focused on your dates of employment. And, he won’t have the benefit of knowing the reasons as to why you have moved from one company to another. You’ve got to make sure that the focus is not on your dates of employment, but on the value you brought to each company you worked for.

To refocus the reader’s attention away from your employment dates, you might consider deleting a job from your resume. Especially if it’s one in which you had a very short tenure.  (I can hear some of you gasping and see others shaking heads.)  Hang tight and hear me out.

I recently met a candidate who worked for five companies in seven years. He listed every single position on his resume, including a job he held for a mere three months.  I told him to take that job out.  Delete it. Eviscerate it. Flush it down the toilet.

He questioned the ethics of this. “Wouldn’t this in effect be lying?” My guess is that many of you are asking the same.

If the purpose of your resume were to list every single job you’ve ever had, than the answer is “yes, omitting this position would be dishonest. “ But, I submit that this is not what a resume is for.

A resume should tell a story.  It should paint a picture of you as someone who has progressed throughout your career with success.  It should highlight your accomplishments  — “I did x and it produced y,” not “I did x.”  It should entice the reader to want to meet you in person and hear how you think you can bring value to their company.  If you’ve had 5 jobs in 7 years and one of them was a three-month stint, believe me when I tell you that listing this does not reflect an accomplishment. It’s simply a red flag and a reason for your resume to get slam-dunked into the can.

To ease the candidate’s conscious, I told him that he could certainly let the interviewer know his full history — when sitting across the desk from him. But putting it in his resume would do more harm than good.

The resume is used for one thing and only one thing:  to get you an interview. The interview is where you can talk your way through your history and sell someone on your value.  Don’t let a bad resume get in your way.

Carpe diem…

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