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Almost 2 months ago, my manager left the company. My group reports directly to the CEO, so I was made acting Director, reporting to the CEO. It looks like I'll be in the position for somewhere between 4-6 months while we search for a replacement.

My day job is an engineer, not a manager. I would love to list the position of acting Director on my resume but I'm not sure how to list it.

  • I could list it as one of my job duties and responsibilities as an engineer, but then it "hides" the fact that I did director-level work. The role is essentially a full-time job, and quite frankly I'm not really doing engineering work any more because of it.
  • I could list it as a separate position, but it would only be for a couple of months - and questions such as "if you were an acting director and you were effective, why didn't they offer you the full position?" might come up. And furthermore, going from engineer to a managerial position back to engineer may also raise flags if I eventually pursue a management position - again, if I was any good at being a director, then (a) why wasn't I a manager in the first place, and also (b) why didn't I go into a manager position after being a director? Also, from a chronology standpoint it's weird to list a temporary position.

How should I represent this experience on my resume?

(FWIW, I talked to the CEO about potentially applying for the full position - while he appreciates the work I've done in the director role, I just don't have enough experience to be qualified for the full position. I actually agree with the assessment.)

  • Either can work, but you'll need to make the decision yourself. Would adding an extra position remove or hide other more important details from your resume? Do you want to highlight this managerial experience? Do you have good answers to those questions they might ask, that makes sense for you personally? – Dukeling Oct 21 '17 at 18:09
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I could list it as a separate position, but it would only be for a couple of months

This is the correct way to list it.

For example:

  • Engineer (2001 - 2020)
  • Acting Director (2017 - 2018)

questions such as "if you were an acting director and you were effective, why didn't they offer you the full position?" might come up. And furthermore, going from engineer to a managerial position back to engineer may also raise flags if I eventually pursue a management position - again, if I was any good at being a director, then (a) why wasn't I a manager in the first place, and also (b) why didn't I go into a manager position after being a director?

These are very reasonable questions for you you must have well thought-out answers.

Be honest in your answers.

There's a reason why you were not made permanent Director. Perhaps you aren't ready yet. Perhaps they are waiting to see if you can handle the position (in which case it may indeed be made permanent). Perhaps you don't want to be permanent Director at this time.

Think it through ahead of time. Practice your answers. Get help from a friend if you aren't sure if your answers are convincing.

2

It depends a bit on how your resume is organized. If your resume isn't chronological in the first place, then it's less of an issue. Also, if you've had several positions at the same company, adding one more isn't going to be out of place. If most of your resume is one-company-one-job, then it's going to be more jarring. You'll want to avoid making it look like you had a job for six months; make sure it's clear that you had the role for six months. While the "acting" part makes it less impressive, it also make it more understandable that it was only six months.

As for how to explain it, one question to ask yourself is "Was it a reasonable possibility that, had I done a good job, that I would have been kept on?" If the answer is "no", then think about why that is, and how to express that in a way that doesn't reflect on your skills. Examples:

"My role as an engineer was so crucial that it was easier to find a new director than to find someone to step into my engineer role."

"My company has fixed guidelines for position qualifications, and while I was doing good work, there was just too much red tape to keep me on permanently."

"Although the company was satisfied with my performance, there was a concern that stockholders would prefer to have someone with an established track record in the role."

The key issue when you apply for a new job is to establish that whatever the issues that kept you from keeping the position permanently wouldn't apply to this new job. You seem to agree that you aren't experienced enough for this role, yet you are considering applying for a managerial position someday. What do you anticipate changing? Are you going to apply for a position with less responsibilities that the director position? Do you think that you'll have more applicable experience later? Whatever the difference is, you need to articulate this when you apply for a new job.

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There are very few positives of putting "Acting" anything on your resume. If you become a Director, it is fine you include the time you stated being "Active Director" as the start-time of being "Director". However, since you stated you will not be doing this, you don't want your resume to show going "backwards" - it looks negative.

It will be a great experience for you being Acting Director and you should bring this up verbally in future interviews - out of all the people there they chose YOU to be the Acting Director and you got great leadership experience. However, this positive may be difficult to convey on your resume alone.

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