Does a short-term job belong on a resume?


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Dear Lisa,

I hate my new job. I worked at my old company for 12 years but was let go in a major restructuring. I’ve found a new job and have been here for four months, but I hate it, and I’m going to quit.

 My question is: Should I include this job on my résumé?

 — Wondering

This is actually a fairly common question — and there’s no simple answer. As with many job search-related issues, the answer is: it depends.

Was it planned?

First things first. Was it planned as a short-term position, or did it simply ended up that way?

In other words, was it a contract (or a contract-to-hire role that didn’t get picked up)? Yes, then include the job on your résumé. Make sure to describe it as such:

  • Hired for temporary, three-month role during maternity leave of key staffer” or “Contract-to-hire position ended prematurely due to termination of company relationship with client.”

Hiring managers are often sympathetic to short-term engagements when the circumstances are explained.

It wasn’t planned. What now?

If it wasn’t meant to be short-term, then you can make it seem it wasn’t as short. Include it on the résumé but list your experience by year, instead of month/year to month/year.

  • For example, list the experience as Bumblebee Incorporated (2019) vs. Bumblebee Incorporated (March 2019 – August 2019).

Also, try “grouping” the role with other positions.

If you had several short-term roles — even if they were not technically temporary jobs — combine them into a single description.

Let’s say you have a sales role with company ABC for eight months. You then left for a better opportunity with company XYZ. But, you only worked there for a year. When this happens try listing the positions jointly.

  • Sales Representative, ABC/XYZ” with the inclusive dates. This only works, however, if the titles and work responsibilities are very similar.

One last thing to touch on in this section.

Were you laid off because of the economy, loss of a key company customer, or another reason unrelated to your performance?

Then you must include that in the résumé (and possibly also the cover letter).

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Hmmm, but I was fired or quit. What now?

If the job wasn’t intended to be short-term — but ended up that way because you were fired, or you quit because you didn’t like the job/company/people, consider leaving it off.

But even in this situation, there are exceptions.

Such as:

  • New skills (when not described elsewhere on your résumé)? Did you gain new skills? then include the position when it’s relevant to your next job.
  • Worked for a name-brand (ie: Google?) or a brand-name client in the scope of your work in that role? Make sure you add the position on the résumé to increase the search engine optimization (SEO) of the résumé for applicant tracking systems — or simply to impress a hiring manager.
  • Will having this position on your résumé help position you for a career change? Even if your time in the position wasn’t long, if having that experience on there it helps you bridge the transition from one career to the next, consider including it.
  • Is this role your only work experience relevant to your job target? Recent graduates who are “first in and first out” would include where the job was more than 90 days. Having some experience — even short-term experience — is better than having no experience.

Still not sure?

Ok, so now we need to look at whether the role fits in the narrative of where you’ve been in your career — and, more importantly, where you’re going.

If not — omit it.

Sometimes you take a job because you think it will open doors or lead you to a new path, and it doesn’t end up that way.

Don’t mention it on your résumé if it will simply raise lots of questions.

Remember, your résumé is not an obituary that lists every job you’ve ever held. It’s a marketing document whose content should support the job target you’re seeking.

Determining what to include — and what to exclude — on your résumé is important and something I assist with.

Leveraging my guidance and experience will not only help you navigate your job search but also save time and money.

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