Explaining Short-term Employment on Your Executive Resume
Every top leader at least one time during their career has had to accept temporary employment or had to leave a particular company within a short time after obtaining a job. The reason we do this can vary. Maybe you only took it because it will get you by until that fantastic, once in a lifetime role you had been looking for materializes.
Perhaps the company decided to downsize a year after you joined the team. Whatever the reason is, you are now faced with explaining this short-term employment on your executive resume. Below I have presented a few scenarios as well as some tips on how to handle short-term employment in your senior leadership resume.
There are some who believe that if you have worked for a company less than a year it is completely acceptable to leave the job off your resume. Others believe in a shorter time frame, something more like 90 days or less. Bear in mind that it would not surprise some employers if they saw a 90-day gap in employment on a resume.
They could possibly assume that you were probably in transition. In either case, you may not have been there long enough to gain a proper reference or to make a major impact in your role. It is completely up to you as to what you feel comfortable with.
Regardless of your choice, keep in mind your resume is a marketing tool and the job application is an official document where all employment should be disclosed. Your professional resume is not a mere hodgepodge of skills and experiences. It is a marketing roadmap that directs a future employer through your highway of leadership promotions, noteworthy achievements, and bottom-line contributions that directly address their needs and requirements.
Your prospective employer is not interested in knowing that you held a paper route when you were twelve. This does not mean that you should leave off every company that you worked for that does not apply to the job you are seeking. A large gap in your employment will require an explanation, some of which I have shed light on in the tips below.
Scenario #1: You accepted a new senior leadership position, and soon realize the culture and environment are not conducive to a healthy workplace. You discover that overall morale in your new department is low and that there are major policies in place that have contributed to increased attrition levels within the organization. You have tried to address these concerns with senior leadership, but with no avail. Therefore, you left within a year of being employed due to fundamental differences in leadership values and vision. Keep in mind that honesty is the best policy.
You must also be aware that in most cases if you were employed more than 90 days, you should include the job on your executive resume. Failure to do this will appear as a gap in employment, which you would also need to explain. It is important to note that you should close the job out with the appropriate timeline, but there are creative ways to present this information.
Understand, the resume is a marketing document that is designed to provide a window into your career highlights. You can consider including years as opposed to the month/year date format for each one of the positions you have held. Your executive cover letter can also be used to convey at a high level how the position you held did not align with your career objectives while reflecting a positive and professional tone. Note: remember to include the months and years on the employment application as it is an official document.
Scenario #2: Accepted a temp-to-perm position which did not materialize? Add one very brief bullet that explains your reason for leaving at the very end of the job that states for example: “Left company upon completion of a temp-to-perm assignment.”
Scenario #3: Did you leave a job due to a spouse’s relocation, an academic sabbatical, or for other personal reasons? Again, add a bullet at the very end of the position that very briefly indicates why you left. For example: Left company due to spouse’s job relocation.
Whatever you decide to do regarding the information you place on your resume, understand you will have to explain it at some point. One of the purposes of your executive resume is to get you to the interview table. Once there, the interviewer will want you to expound on the information you have given. Be prepared to give an honest but succinct response.
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