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Resume: Handling Jobs that Didn't Work Out

It is very unfortunate when we make the decision to join a company and it doesn’t work out. The reasons can be numerous; a bad boss, job misrepresented, poor colleague fit, and of course, some candidates sell themselves into situations that they shouldn’t be in. The reality is that it happens.

Do you represent jobs on your resume that were short and didn’t work out? And if so, how do you do so?

My advice, and most experts agree, is that you need to include all formal work experiences on your resume, even if they did not last long. You do not want to misrepresent anything on your resume and cover letter. It is the right thing to do, firstly, but secondly, omissions and falsehoods have a way of being found out sooner or later.

Be up front, but politic. Phrase it in a way that doesn’t leave a negative impression. The cover letter can be a place to provide some context to your departure or intent to depart. If you have resigned, or are voluntarily seeking to leave, make that clear. Readers of your resume who see only a month in the job will assume you were fired unless you make it clear.

At the interview stage, you can provide a bit more context, again, without being negative.

Stay positive

In the case of a bad boss, you can refer to a poor fit between the two of you or, more specifically, you didn’t like, or couldn’t work with their management style. If pressed in an interview, without naming names, you could share a bit more detail so that the interview fully understands the reasons for your departure.

In the case of a misrepresented job, you can say that the job content was different than specified in the interview process and it wasn’t a fit. Again, if pressed, you can let them know if you were required to perform tasks that were unclear or undisclosed at the interview stage, or if the job was oversold in terms of responsibility and content, you can safely say that.

Sometimes, you will be interviewing with competitors in a small industry and your fear will be that everyone knows each other. Well, this can’t be helped. You will just have to deal with it. The good news is that you will be surprised at how often your diplomatic, positive explanation of why you didn’t stick with that new company will be met with a knowing and understanding smile. If the boss was that bad, or the job misrepresented to such a great extent that you had to leave, chances are you aren’t the first, and that the company has some sort of reputation in the industry.

One thing you can acknowledge is the learning this situation has provided you with. The importance of doing your due diligence during the interview process. The importance of asking good questions.

The Effectiveness of Interview Follow-up Letters
Industry Specific Resumes

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