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For various reasons, I only worked for a company for a few weeks. Is it OK if I just don't put that on my resume, and pretend this employment never existed?

There is really not much to talk about for such a short-term employment, and I also don't want to answer why I left that company in just a few weeks. (It's not my fault. I would have loved to stay. But it doesn't matter anymore, I simply don't want to bring it up)

I am not sure if the future employer will find out that I hide this experience. Our industry is quite small, and I stupidly put it on my LinkedIn profile (of course I shut down my LinkedIn now and the search engine cache is gone). Some headhunters also knew I was there.

If my future employer found out that I didn't put that experience on my resume, will they get pissed for hiding?

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10 Answers

Is it OK to leave very short-term employment off my resume?

You can choose to leave anything you like off of your resume.

Just be prepared in the event that this potential employer finds out about the missing job (we have our ways!). First, they could decide not hire you because they felt you were lying. Or they could challenge you on the missing position and ask for an explanation. At that point, you might need to "answer why I left that company in just a few weeks", even if you'd rather not.

If my future employer found out that I didn't put that experience on my resume, will they get pissed for hiding?

They might view your choice to leave holes in your resume unfavorably and you could be passed over. That's your gamble to take, but not one I'd recommend.

So should you just leave it off your resume? Sure, go for it. Just be willing to accept any consequences, should you get "found out".

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Hi Joe. Thanks for your reply. Certainly I understand it's my gamble to take, but I am just seeking a recommendation -- would you recommend leaving that off my resume? –  ZCode Feb 27 '13 at 22:29
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You will have to account for something in either case, either the short employment period or the "gap" in your resume. Most employers will notice this as well. If you had a good reason for leaving, a good company will understand. I once quit a job because my boss was unethical, and it didn't hurt me at all in interviews - they asked and I explained. If you were fired for cause, you are not obligated to tell them, but avoid being dishonest! A resume is simply a sales tool you use to get an interview. –  JAGAnalyst Feb 28 '13 at 20:55
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Your resume is supposed to show relevant experience related to the position you are applying for. If the short term employment is not relevant to your getting the job then there is no reason to put it on the resume. And it is not a lie. If they ask if you worked somewhere during the time gap and you say no, then that would be a lie. Not putting a job on your resume that you feel has no relevance to obtaining the position you are applying for should actually be encouraged, as it is of no interest to the interviewee, it should not be interpreted as a lie because it isn't. –  Dunk Nov 26 '13 at 19:02
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@Dunk - I said an employer might have "felt you were lying". You can rationalize it any way you choose, if (when?) you get caught. I know as a reader of resumes, I get suspicious when I see a gap. And if I asked a candidate about it and they said "I left that job off because it wasn't relevant", I'd conclude that they were lying. Perhaps that's not the right conclusion, but that's how I would feel. –  Joe Strazzere Nov 26 '13 at 19:30
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If somebody were interested enough in you to perform a background check and find out that you have work experience not listed on your resume, then they will also be interested enough to at least ask you about it (assuming they even care).

If you are asked about then just say that you were trying to remove clutter from your resume so that you can focus on all of your awesome experiences in the past. A resume doesn't have to list every detail of your employment history. I keep a number of minor contract jobs off of my resume just because I don't want it to grab attention from work experience that really matters.

Honesty is the best policy and if that isn't good enough for an employer then screw them, they are being overly picky anyway. Assuming you work in a burning hot field like IT like I am, I could secure 4 different interviews tomorrow if I was so inclined. It is a sellers market (if you are skilled) in the IT field now so there is no need to worry about a company that doesn't really want somebody that badly or is just looking for somebody fearful that they can closely control.

We interviewers are not plotting and scheming a master plan behind applicants backs. We all think differently and look for different things and personalities. We all have different prejudices too. Something like this would be completely inconsequential for myself personally.

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Disclaimer: My assumption is that this is not a high-level job where a background check will be conducted upon the submission of your resume. If that is the case, then please disregard the below suggestion as it will not apply to your case. My assumption is that there is a large pool of applicants and you want to maximize the chances to make it to the short list/interview stage.

If you leave it on...

Every single employer will ask you, "Why did you only work there for X weeks?"

Without fail.

Some employers may simply throw your resume in to the bin because of such a short term employment (especially if there is no explanation in the resume).

If you leave it off...

Some employers will ask you, "Why is there a gap of X weeks in your resume?"

They may know you were employed (due to LinkedIn or headhunters) or may not. Regardless, you have to give an answer to explain the gap.

Suggestion

If you had a job immediately following those X weeks, and a job immediately preceding them, then don't list dates on your resume (you can just list months, since you will have no gap that way):

  • August 2004-September 2005: Company X
  • September 2005-September 2005: Company Y
  • October 2005-Present: Company Z

Clearly you can leave out the "company Y" portion without raising any eyebrows.

If you didn't, and the gap will show up regardless, I would suggest to leave it off the resume. Prepare to have it asked in interviews. You can answer it many ways.

  • Truthful: "I left company X for reason Y"
  • Embellished: "I was at a point where I wasn't sure where I wanted to go with my career"
  • Untruthful: "I spent X weeks working on a side project/personal business/taking care of an ill family member, etc."

Which you pick is up to your sense of ethics, how bad the reason for leaving job X was, what you did before and afterwards, etc.

If you have a good reason (I joined company X immediately before they got sued by Google for patent infringement) then truthful is fine. No harm, no foul, what can you do if the company goes bankrupt or faces impending doom totally unrelated to your hiring? If the reason is not so good (you got fired, you quit in a huff, you got a better offer and immediately jumped ship), then your ethics will determine how dishonest of a response to give (just ambiguous, or downright untrue).

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I am at a loss for words how much people discount themselves in the job search process. When has it been considered an egregious career wound to have a single job that just didn't work out? You don't become some ruined person, an Untouchable, that everybody avoids because you had one bad experience. And on that note I would walk out of an interview if anybody questioned a 2 week employment gap on my resume. That is offensive and belittling to accept being judged on something so inconsequential and ultimately pointless to the job at hand. –  maple_shaft Feb 28 '13 at 2:24
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Yet you become an easy target for filters that are designed to reduce the applicant pool to a reasonable number. That is just the (sad) reality. If your job is to reduce the number of applicants from 100 to 30, and your job is to justify the remaining 30 to your boss, will you leave in the guy with a 2 week job on his resume? Sure, if he has 20 years of experience with company A, 2 weeks with B, and 10 years with C, is an expert in his field, and the best applicant by far it's no issue. For us mere mortals, getting to the interview is the important part. –  jmac Feb 28 '13 at 2:45
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I am not aware of any automatic filters that can do a background check necessary to identify employment missing from a resume. Certainly they can find an employment gap, but for two weeks??? That is probably just a between job vacation and isn't worthy of raised eyebrows. Employment gaps shouldn't be questioned until they are at least over a month. –  maple_shaft Feb 28 '13 at 12:50
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I am with you, @maple_shaft. You know why this quantitative evaluation of work history? Because recruiters are simply clueless, lazy and unimaginative to use instinct in determining quality. Quantitative heuristics in profiling skilled cadre is the most vulgar screening methodology. –  amphibient Feb 28 '13 at 18:19
    
Two weeks is probably too short to catch, but 'a few weeks' as ZCode said is a bit vague. Depending on length, timing, and resume formatting, it could be invisible or visible to employers, and while they can't 'automatically' filter for it, someone reading the resume may pick up on it. It also depends on the gap before and after that job as well. There are a lot of potential ways that this 'few weeks' could actually be more noticeable to recruiters who are 'clueless, lazy and unimaginative'. –  jmac Feb 28 '13 at 23:42
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I think a lot of the issue comes down the "why". A resume isn't a personnel file, there's no right or wrong on what to include - the goal is to show yourself in a good light and show a summary of your career that gives a potential employer a good sense of what you've done in the past and what you are capable of. It's not like a transcript, or a credit check where completeness is important.

But - there's a difference between leaving irrelevant information off of your resume and deliberately obscuring information that puts you in a very bad light. So a lot of the question comes to the particular case.

Go ahead and leave it off if - this part of your job history is irrelevant for your next job. For example, if you quit engineering to relocate and ended up working as a waiter for a few weeks to make ends meet - it's unlikely that your next engineering job is going to care about your time as a waiter or how little time you spent working there. That's a fairly extreme example, but it makes the point.

You can't really avoid it if - you have to explain a bad point in your job history. If this job is relevant to your career, and you had a difficult experience which ended in leaving the job - you're going to need to find a way to address that. Leaving it off your resume really isn't going to help. It's certainly possible you'll get lucky and there's a company out there that won't ask. But in the IT world, it's a highly employable skill set, so when I see that a candidate has a gap of weeks or months, I ask about it. At that point, you really need an answer - certainly "I didn't put it on my resume, because I wasn't there long enough to feel I learned or contributed much" is a fine answer, but a hiring manager will still be wondering why you left and will probably ask directly. You'll need some sort of an answer and lying is NOT a good idea here.

Time heals - when the gap is fairly recent, it's more directly relevant. 10 years from now no one will likely care if you had a month long gap in your career history if you've had 10 great years of work history since then. Leave it off as irrelevant at that point and figure that no one will ask or care.

The main reason I posted is that the big issue is really the abrupt exodus from a job. I realize that you probably don't want to talk about it, but you're going to have to be prepared with something that can show that you learned from the experience and are prepared to move forward in a positive way. If you can do that, you don't really have to worry about leaving it off your resume.

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The purpose of a resume is to highlight information about you. People who include all their jobs (even when there might not be anything useful there) do so to highlight continuity, the absence of gaps. But that doesn't mean you need to include everything all the time. Also consider that often people (especially older candidates concerned about age discrimination) drop the oldest positions. If omitting your first job out of college isn't a lie, then neither is omitting a three-week mistake.

The purpose of an application, on the other hand, is to provide all the information they need, which will include that short gig. You need to provide that information to them before they discover it in a background check and you lose credibility (and lots of companies do background checks these days, or at least will verify recent employment). You need to be completely truthful in your application.

So, how to handle this? Write your resume to sell yourself. If you get as far as an in-person interview then there will almost certainly be a conversation with an HR person who will go over benefits, timing, and other logistics. You can tell that person "by the way, there's a short job I didn't include on my resume because it wasn't relevant, but just so you know...".

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How relevant would that experience be for the jobs you are applying? If the experience isn't that relevant then it may well be better leaving it off altogether obviously. On the flip side though, you could have an awkward moment in an interview if you want to use that work as an example of a difficult work situation or conflict or other situations that may have happened there that didn't happen in other experiences you'd want to list. This is something else to consider here.

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I would rather hire someone that was at a company for only a few weeks than only a year.

Everyone can get into a situation where you realize very quickly that the current job is not for you, or you are not the one for the job. Get in, realize and take actions immediately - provided that you have a good reason. That is much better than sticking around for 1 year and then still quitting. You waste a lot of company resources that way through on-boarding, training etc.

I much less would hire you if I realized that you try to conceal things from me.

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Assumption: after joining the company he got a better offer from another job he applied to in the first 3 weeks, causing him to jump ship. Question: all other things being equal, would you pick the candidate that jumped ship, or a candidate with the same qualifications who didn't? The key word in your reply is "provided that you have a good reason". Reasons for leaving jobs are often not included in resumes. Most hiring folks do not assume the best ("I'm sure that typo is due to a rare computer virus, and not lack of attention to detail"). –  jmac Feb 28 '13 at 4:49
    
@jmac While of course, a candidate who did not have any rapid changes is the better one, a candidate who omits those and where I find it out later is the worst of all. If you think the quality of a resume is increased by obscurity, omissions or lies, you just have to take the risk that someone will regard you as a fraud when found out. Nothing else. –  uncovery Feb 28 '13 at 5:06
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I don't disagree. There are risks to both aspects. I believe that the risk of getting pre-filtered are greater than the risks that the employer will see what you are doing is dishonest and disqualify you. (A) Resumes are not stated as 100% complete, and aren't assumed to be (as a 30-something, I don't list internships/part time jobs on my resume). (B) Most companies would take issue with the gap during the interview when you can explain -- including the job in the resume raises more issues that may eliminate you from the chance to have an interview. –  jmac Feb 28 '13 at 5:49
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@jmac I guess it heavily depends what level of job we are talking about. The lower the level, the less I care about omissions. The higher the level the more I expect completeness. –  uncovery Feb 28 '13 at 6:33
    
That's an excellent point. I was assuming that a higher level applicant wouldn't even be asking this question (I'd hope!). My answer is contingent on the person being in a large pool of applicants and hoping to get to an interview. If it is a smaller pool with background checks from the start, you are absolutely right that the omission would be glaring (as it would be found out anyway). I'll edit my answer to be sure to be clear on that point. Thanks for the discussion! –  jmac Feb 28 '13 at 6:55
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You have to cut what you put on your resume anyway, so you're not obligated to list everything.

Your resume is to show your achievements; you didn't achieve anything in those 2 weeks, so it's not deceptive to leave it off. If they find out and ask you about it, then you explain it. But most won't know or probably even care that you didn't list it.

Of course, if you have one of those every year or so, between the other shorter stints you do list, then you're being deceptive about being a job hopper. But if it's a one-time event, you're just focusing your resume on what awesome things you've done and can do.

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Even though I have little information about the platform you work on, I would see if it is better to leave it off the 'very short term employment' altogether.

If you maintain it in your resume, you are posed with a lot of questions:

  1. Why did you leave within such a short period ? - No matter how reasonable your response is, they still can't accept !

  2. What are the chances that you do the same with us ? - Again, your responses become mute.

  3. Why did you join without considering all criteria ? - Though you can estimate some things until you join !

  4. Why couldn't you spend some more time on waiting for a right time ? - Means, why don't you adjust no matter what has happened !

If you have not put it on the resume but still your future employer finds it, tell them that its more of an advisory role for a short period on a good-term basis, means, not for primary job but just on a support basis and there is not much to speak about it.

You can also add a point that, you waited for that 'short term' to get completed to avoid any employment violations, politely...

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leave it off. It looks bad. I have done this. Was out of work, took a low paying contract (temp job) quit in a few weeks for a much better paying full time position. Left the few weeks as a gap in my employment. There is no way for anyone to find out and you don't want to have to explain it. It may not hurt you, but there is no reason to bother.

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