Tips for Explaining Short-Term Employment on Your Executive or Professional Resume

Every top leader has had to accept temporary employment or had to leave a particular company shortly after obtaining a job at least once in their career. The reasons why this happens can vary. Maybe you only took the job to get by until that fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime role came along. Perhaps the company decided to downsize only a year after you joined.

Whatever the reason for your brief tenure may be, you now have the task of explaining this short-term employment on your executive resume. Below, I have presented a few scenarios describing how to handle short-term employment on your senior leadership resume.

Should You Leave the Job Off Your Resume Entirely?

There are some who believe that, if you worked for a company for less than a year, then it is completely acceptable to leave the job off your resume. Others believe in leaving the job off your resume only if your time there was even shorter – something like 90 days or less. Bear in mind that it would not surprise many employers if they saw a 90-day gap in employment on a resume. They could assume that you were 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. When it comes to leaving a job off of your resume, it is completely up to you and what you feel comfortable with.

Regardless of your choice, keep in mind that your resume is a marketing tool. Your professional resume is not a simple hodgepodge of skills and experiences – it is a 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.

Scenario No. 1

You accepted a new senior leadership position but soon realized the culture and environment was not conducive to a healthy workplace. You discovered that overall morale in your new department was low and that some of the major policies in place have contributed to increased turnover levels within the organization. You tried to address these concerns with senior leadership, but to no avail. Therefore, the fundamental differences in leadership values and vision caused you to leave the organization within a year.

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.

Understand that the resume is a marketing document designed to provide a window into your career highlights. Your executive cover letter can also be used to convey how the position you held did not align with your career objectives while maintaining a positive and professional tone.

Scenario No. 2

You accepted a temp-to-perm position that did not materialize. In this case, you could add one very brief bullet at the end of the job description that explains your reason for leaving: “Left company upon completion of temp-to-perm assignment.”

Scenario No. 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 job description that 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, you must understand you will have to explain it at sometime. 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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