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Handling Short-Term Jobs on Your Resume

Posted On05/17/2017

ContributorNelson Jobs

What are Short-Term Jobs?

What an employer considers a short-term job may depend on many factors. There is no standard length of time that qualifies a job as short-term or temporary. Companies where employees are tenured may seek new hires with a track record of 5+ years in each position and consider a two-year stay short-term. While, other companies may look for new hires with more variety in their backgrounds and be more forgiving of multiple six-month roles. However, if you are with a company for less than one year, it is important to address why it was short term or temporary to maintain a good impression regarding your career throughout your job search and the hiring process with other companies.

There are generally three types of short-term jobs:

  1. Short-term contract or temporary positions. Contract positions or roles found through a temporary staffing agency are not expected to be permanent. Hiring managers and recruiters understand if you have had temporary jobs. Short-term work typically will not reflect negatively on you as a candidate, so don’t worry about explaining these jobs other than pointing out they were contract roles.
  2. Positions that were short term because you left. It can be a gamble to decide to leave a role after a short time. On one hand, this action can show decisiveness and an unwillingness to settle for mediocrity. On the other hand, it can signal an inability to follow through on commitments. This type of position does not have to be detrimental to your hiring potential if you address the situation correctly.
  3. Positions that were short-term because the company let you go. More challenging situations occur if the short-term nature of the position wasn’t your decision. Mergers and buyouts can lead to job changes. Businesses may also let good employees go for economic and performance reasons.

Whether or not leaving a job was your choice, you will still need to consider the best approach short-term jobs on your resume and effectively discuss them with the hiring managers and possibly even human resources. You need to be able to explain what happened, what you learned from it, and why the same thing won’t happen in your next role. Here are a few resume tips and interview tricks to help you navigate this topic with ease.

Should you Include Short-Term Jobs on Your Resume?

It happens to just about everyone at some point in their careers. It’s likely happened to you as well. You do research, actively search for jobs, go to multiple interviews, and finally land a job that seems to match your qualifications and requirements. Yet several months or even weeks into the job, you find yourself at odds with your new employment situation. Maybe, you and your new boss don’t see eye to eye on your role within the company. Perhaps, the job description and your actual duties are different. Or maybe, the position requires a higher level of skill or experience that you do not have. As you decide what to do next, you will need to consider how to represent this short-term job on your resume and how to discuss it in future interviews.

Leaving a Job off Your Resume

Many career experts and recruiters will advise a job seeker to leave a temporary contract or short-term job off their resume, especially if that person has a stable work history and the job offers minimal value. If you have 10 – 15+ years of progressive work experience with one short-term job or temporary position that tarnishes your otherwise impeccable work history, then it’s advisable to leave the job off your resume.

Recruiters and hiring managers are human too. They understand that very few people have a perfect career history. Wowing a recruiter with your experience and accomplishments make it more likely for them to overlook or forgive a 3 – 6-month gap in employment.

If you do include the short-term job on your resume, consider offering a brief description as to why the position was transitory, especially if there was an external factor that led to your tenure being brief. Simply list “company restructuring” or “company was sold” in parentheses. Brevity can work in your favor to help prevent recruiters from assuming the worst-case scenario.

Including a Short-Term Job on Your Resume

On the other hand, if the short-term job proved worthwhile, you may consider including it on your resume. Consider what you’ve gained from the ,more extensive experience. What new skills did you learn in this short time? What did you accomplish or take away from the job? Will these add to your viability as a candidate for another position? It’s all about perspective, so try to gather as much useful information as you can to list on your resume. There’s no rule that a short-term job can’t offer value.

Recent college graduates or entry-level professionals may find it better to include positions that lasted less than a year. As these gaps in employment history from summer jobs can be more noticeable.

The Interviewing Conundrum for Short-Term Jobs

The above resume tips for addressing short-term jobs on your resume can help you get started with your job search. However, when you land a job interview, what’s the best way to address a short-term role? Here are a few interview tips to help you.

Be Brief and Move It Along

If an interviewer brings up the gap in employment or asks why you were in a position for such a short time, then focus on what you learned from the short-term experience to present it in the best light. Though you want to be positive, you still want to be truthful.

For instance, politely and professionally reveal that you and your boss had a different vision of the position and its responsibilities. The two of you were at an impasse, and you left the company with a much better sense of what’s important for you to look for in your next role. If you had another role after the short-term one, share what you learned from your mistake and how you applied that to finding another position. Also, explain why the next position was a better fit for your skill sets. This can help you transition away from the negative and back into a positive conversation about your work history. Resist the temptation to lambast your former employer, calling him or her an inept, micromanaging you-know-what will only make you look bad and unprofessional.

Don’t Focus on The Short-Term Role

Though you want to have a concise answer ready to explain your short-term job, it is not necessary or advisable to offer it unless directly asked. There’s a chance your recruiter might not care enough to bring it up, particularly if the rest of the interview is going smoothly.

Practice Makes Perfect

Hopefully, you know you should always be prepared when you walk into a job interview. Practicing ahead of time what you’ll say about that short-term job can help you feel more prepared to address the questions in a real interview. Try role-playing with a friend to get a feel for explaining it live, so you’re not caught off guard if the question does arise in an interview.

There’s no need to get overly concerned about short-term jobs on your resume. By using these interview and resume tips, your dream job could still be within reach!