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Long time answerer, seldom-asker here to ask y'all's opinion on something.

So, I'm updating my resume now, and I have a problem. I've been working in industry as a software engineer for about 8 years; however, my early career was a bit of a mess. I had a different job roughly every year, and I didn't really contribute anything to any of those companies (not for lack of trying, but I was never really given a chance). To make it worse, one of those early companies was a FAANG, which means prospective interviewers tend to ask about that one in particular. Basically, my resume looks like this:

06/15 - Graduate Masters degree
04/15 - 04/16 (13 months) - Company A (yes, I started working there before I graduated; I didn't attend convocation) 
09/16 - 11/16 (2 1/2 months) - Company B  
12/16 - 12/17 (51 weeks, and yes I'm mad about it) - FAANG  
06/18 - 05/19 (~ 12 months) - Company C
06/19 - 03/20 (~ 8 months) - Company D
06/20 - Current - Company E

Company A I left because it was far away from home and I got homesick, including some very serious mental health issues (which were resolved by moving out of that location). Company B I was terminated from during probation. Company C I was laid off for company financial reasons. Company D I quit because I was promised something in the interview process that never materialized after 8 months and I gave up waiting. My current company is drifting their culture away from where I find it comfortable, so I'm looking for a position that's more culturally fitting for me. Furthermore, I was promoted at companies C and E.

The problem is, having all these short experiences on my resume makes me look like a job-hopper. While I personally don't believe there's anything wrong with job-hopping (nobody looks down on companies who fire employees for any reason, why are employees who change jobs for any reason looked down upon?), many companies do.

So here's my question: How can I leave the first 3 job experiences off my resume without looking like I graduated from uni and did nothing for 3 years, and/or how can I make a note on my resume to show that I had legitimate reasons for these short jobs and not look like a job hopper to recruiters?

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How can I leave the first 3 job experiences off my resume without looking like I graduated from uni and did nothing for 3 years

There's a bit of contradiction here. You can't leave those jobs out without having a gap there... you either leave them and be ready to explain, or take them out and have a gap (which you would also have to explain).

Furthermore, a background check could reveal those unlisted jobs, and again, you would have to be prepared to explain yourself...

how can I make a note on my resume to show that I had legitimate reasons for these short jobs and not look like a job hopper to recruiters?

I think that a cover letter or clarifying during interviews would be a better place/moment to explain yourself and tell your legitimate reasons.


As a side comment, I see that you were 2.5 months on Company B. That's a very short time, and one could consider leaving that one out... however, reading your dates again, I see an unexplained gap between Company A and B (you list 04/16 as the end of A and 09/16 as the start of B... what happened during those 5 months?). Be ready to explain that as well.

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  • The thing is, after including all my achievements at the other jobs, hard/soft skills, and so on, my resume is about a page and a half with just the information listed; I can easily explain leaving off those other jobs as "they were long enough ago that I thought I'd put more relevant stuff on my resume", and I can explain what I did as "I was working but it was early in my career so I didn't contribute as much as I have at more recent positions". I just want to know if that's a good strategy.
    – Ertai87
    May 19, 2023 at 18:23
  • As for your side comment, I was moving back from halfway across the world, getting my affairs in order, applying for jobs and taking interviews, and getting a job as a junior software dev takes a long time in my locale. My 6 month gap between the FAANG and company C is because I was taking interviews but not getting offers for that entire 6 months (yes, unlikely as it sounds, that's the truth)
    – Ertai87
    May 19, 2023 at 18:24
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    @Ertai87 I see. Well, seems to me like you are ready to explain everything if prompted. Also, leaving old jobs (almost 10 years ago) to include more recent, relevant experience sound reasonable as long as you can explain yourself... and yes, it seems that you were "earlier" in your career... you are about to turn 3 years on your current company, something that indicates stability...
    – DarkCygnus
    May 19, 2023 at 18:27
  • I'd sidestep the short term problem with B by just leaving it and A off as too old to be relevant. May 22, 2023 at 4:32
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How can I leave the first 3 job experiences off my resume without looking like I graduated from uni and did nothing for 3 years

Just leave them off.

After a certain number of years, there's no need to include every job in your early working life.

When asked, just indicate that the jobs are so old, that you don't consider them relevant any longer.

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  • I know how to answer the question if it's asked; my question is more along the lines of, will not including these hurt my chances of getting interviews at all, and if so what should I do about it?
    – Ertai87
    May 19, 2023 at 19:11
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    What is that certain number? I'm not sure I'd consider 2016 so long ago it's no longer relevant.
    – Seth R
    May 21, 2023 at 5:21
  • @SethR When it makes your resume looks boring and makes people think you're grasping for straws. Get the resume reviewed by someone else.
    – Nelson
    May 23, 2023 at 1:54
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I personally don't believe there's anything wrong with job-hopping

Many people don't these days. They talk about 'passion' and 'energy' etc,. Which is why job hoppers including yourself keep getting jobs especially in the IT industries.

So just do your CV truthfully, explain however you thinks sounds best if asked and eventually you'll land another role.

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A pragmatic approach to keep the experience time still appearing in your CV but not the details of them is to leave a note like this

Experience from <date> to <date> is available at <link>

You may use a link to your LinkedIn profile, for instance. I strongly believe recruiters are way more focused on fresh experiences rather than old ones, so chances are low they'll dig into the link. And if they do, they still have access to it.

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