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Trisha asks:

Should I omit any positions I have held for less than a year or insignificant ones? What is your opinion? I would rather explain a gap, like moving or staying at home with the kids, than explain why I left something after only 4 months.

If it’s not relevant, leave it out.

Think of your resumé as a story. When editing, ask yourself: “Does my resumé tell a compelling and coherent story about what I can offer?”

For example, say you spent two months apprenticing under a master chef in Paris, learning the intricacies of creme brulée and yummy strawberry tarts. If you’re applying for a pastry chef position in New York, then you’ve got a fantastic story to tell. No matter how short the time frame is, you should include it.

On the other hand, if you were only a temp doing data entry at a boring dotcom in Silicon Valley, it’d be a tougher story to tell. In that case, I’d leave it out.

Tip: if you’re in the creative field, explaining gaps is easy–you were freelancing.

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  • Anton

    gravatarJul 1, 2008
    8:00 am

    In my experience, prospective employers will notice gaps in your resume. Be prepared to answer (honestly!) what you did during those times. However, that becomes an interview question, and if you’ve snagged an interview, then you are ahead of the game already!

    Remember that you have complete control over the detail level of your resume. If you were laid off in, say, October, and didn’t find work until over a year later (in December), and don’t want the gap to be too noticeable, omit the months from the timeline for all your employment dates. You’ll then see:

    Employer1 1998-2002 Employer2 2003-present

    instead of

    Employer1 February 1998-October 2002 Employer2 December 2003-present

    Warning: Do not be tempted to use this technique to make it appear you were working at a place LONGER than you really were. For example, if you were hired for Winter Break in December, and returned to college in late January, don’t try to make it seem you worked two years in that job! Instead, just put the first year. If an employer checks (and they will!), they will find out that your “two years” was only “two months” and wonder where else on your resume you may have exaggerated.

    Remember, the people hiring have an obligation to their company that the person they are recommending for a position is qualified for that position and will not put the company at risk. They WILL check your employment history, do a criminal background check, etc. Anything on your resume is fair game.

  • jay

    gravatarJul 1, 2008
    9:41 am

    Yeah this is tough, I know people that were at a place for two years … then quite for 6 month’s and didn’t like that job and then came back to the first job. They toally didn’t put that short job down … I think that works, but anything over 6 month’s and if you start a different job might be rough. I say be honest, because yoube surpise who know who in the business world.


  • Ryan

    gravatarJul 1, 2008
    7:14 pm

    Thanks for this. This is something I’ve been wondering about as I started looking for my first “real job” after graduating.

  • Matt French

    gravatarJul 5, 2008
    4:57 am

    Good points. I am constantly re-working my resume and have been going though my girlfriends.

    One thing, for me, is the fact that I changed careers 3 years ago. I don’t put my age on my resume but the fact that I went to uni in 1995 is a giveaway. I list the relevant industry experience I have had in the last 3 years for the jobs I am going for (film compositing and visual fx). If I am asked what I did before that in an interview I explain that I used to be a senior investigator for consumer affairs. That usually gets a response and “why did you change” which gives me an opening to talk about my passion and skills I picked up back then (teamwork, running my own projects etc)