Is It Kosher To Omit Jobs From Your Resume?

AdAge posted a piece today, written by Paul Gumbinner, that discusses the importance of telling a story with your resume.  Gumbinner says recruiters and hiring managers should be able, in a glance, to determine who you are, what your career path has been, and where it’s going to taking you.  Or, as I like to say, your resume should adhere to the 10-second rule. (No, this does not mean that one should be able to eat it if it falls on the floor.)  It does mean, that you’ve got about 10 seconds to make an impression with it.  So, you gotta make sure it incorporates “the three C’s” — it’s clear, concise and compelling.  That means it’s got to be chock-full of achievements!

Gumbinner goes on to say that the jobs you take should be a direct reflection of what you want to accomplish with your career.  “You need to determine what experiences you wish to have in order to achieve your personal goals…The worst decision you can make is to leave a job for title or money.”

Interesting.  Don’t most of us do exactly that?  I’d say that the majority of us are looking to advance our careers, which means we want higher titles.  I’d also guess that if I took a poll among my readers, there’s not a single one of you who doesn’t want to earn more money.   I think what Gumbinner is saying here is that too many of us jump around without giving forethought to the future.  But, I’d say that the future is very much tied to title and salary and sometimes a higher title and salary at a questionable company can actually be a fantastic stepping stone for your career.

Case in point.  About four years ago, I was working with a small digital music company, looking for a Director of Sales.  I needed a strong AE who was ready to take the next step into management and willing to take a risk with a company that wasn’t exactly growing by leaps and bounds.  I ended up placing a rep from a major media company who recognized that although he might not feel 100% secure about the company itself, the job would advance him into management.  He took the job, stayed for a little more than a year before things started to fall apart and then found another fantastic management job in a more stable company. There is no doubt that his initial move, although not perfect, took his career to a new level.

It is true that serial job jumping is not a great resume booster.  Recruiters and hiring managers will be hesitant to believe that you will stick with any particular job if you can’t seem to settle down anywhere for more than a year.  Plus, what can you REALLY accomplish if you don’t stay in a job for 2 or 3+ years?   Hard to do achieve much if you treat jobs like underwear changes.

This leads me to the question of whether or not you should leave jobs out of your resume.  In the digital media business, things are so crazy that sometimes you do end up going from one place to another in less than a year.  Start-ups, in particular, hire and then run out of money all within a matter of days.  In cases like this, I have told candidates to simply take the jobs off their resumes.  Gumbinner does not agree with this philosophy and specifically warns his readers to beware of recruiters who recommend this.   Well, my reasoning is, a resume is designed to highlight accomplishments, not failures.  If you’ve only been at a place for 6 months, you have not had time to accomplish anything. Why highlight something that was not a positive in your career?  Leave it off, get the interview and then tell the person across the desk what happened.

What about jobs you’ve held 15+ years ago?  It’s certainly nice to see a progression in your resume but if your resume starts to go beyond two pages, you’ve got to make cuts.  Your past two jobs are the most important ones on your resume.  If you have the room, list your older jobs in brief.  If you run out of room, take them out and, again, take the interviewer through your history upon meeting.

Carpe diem…

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