I left a Team Lead / tech lead with minimum management role in a large organization after 9 years to join a small company.

Unfortunately, the new role was above my skill level (more management than tech) and I was let go after the 3 month probation. If I put them down as a referee they will say that technically I was fine but I lacked senior management skills (I confirmed this with them).

This is a problem as I am now applying for Team Leader (TL) positions. Although a TL is not "senior management" it still doesn't look good if I include the previous reference.

My references for the 9-year job are all excellent. So...what to do on my resume and interviews?

I do not wish to explicitly lie.

How should I present this in my CV - should I leave the role in or expunge it?

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    4) Don't include the 3 months and tell the truth if they ask. Odds are fairly good that they won't ask; being out of work for 3 months is not uncommon, especially given what the economy has done recently. If they do, you can just say "Well, I was working with ____, but it wasn't a good fit and we parted ways." The object of the game is to be as honest as the law allows...
    – keshlam
    Dec 8, 2014 at 6:01
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    But they will definitely ask why I left a job after 9 years. So then I either tell the truth or lie. If I lie, then that's a lie I have to maintain even if I get the job. If I tell the truth, then I might as well stick it on the resume any way, as otherwise it will look like I'm trying to hide something. Dec 8, 2014 at 6:08
  • You "wanted to move on to other challenges and look at how you could further your career in new directions" - you needed some time out and your savings allowed for it, so you had a couple of holidays and a think about your career: et voila, here you are applying for a Team Leader position a few months later
    – Jon Story
    Dec 8, 2014 at 9:48
  • @PowerApp101: Just wanted to make sure the other option was considered, not necessarily recommending it.
    – keshlam
    Dec 8, 2014 at 15:19
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    It seems you feel guilty for having "failed". Please bear in mind that even if you see this as a failure (which is debatable), your employer has failed too: It's their job as much as yours to assess whether you are a good fit for a position. If it turns out you are not, their recruitment process has failed.
    – sleske
    Dec 9, 2014 at 8:17

1 Answer 1


You put it on your resume, of course.

You had senior management experience. That is awesome. This isn't a time to hide the fact that you are a high achiever who learnt valuable management lessons and who feels that tempered with a team lead role can become a major contributor to the underlying growth of some company. It is the time to sing it.

There is nothing wrong with lacking skills that you had no prior training for. Incidentally, if you know specifically in which areas you were let down, now would be a good time to brush up on those areas. You might as well take something from the experience, amiright?

You last paragraph makes sense too, and can be used as an explanation of why you're wanting a strong team lead role so you can build upon the skills you gained in your time at the other company. I wouldn't quite go so far as to provide explanations on your resume as to why you weren't kept on though.

In the resume just put what you contributed, what you learnt, standard bullet-point stuff.

In the cover letter or in the interview when they will ask, that is when you explain. You might do it by expressing that you are excellent at managing developers and refining requirements and contributing to the overall vision of the company. however, the requirements shifted and both you and the company realised you weren't the right fit. the company came to the realisation that a more experienced manager would be needed. you realised that you needed to consolidate the amazing skills you have in a slightly more junior role to be able to fully realise your abilities. And that slightly more junior role is this tech lead (or whatever role you're applying for).

As an aside, I'm not sure you want to jump back down to tech lead? unless you didn't have any tech lead experience in the last company i read your question and you've had team lead experience, wouldn't you want to be a dev manager, or something with tech leads reporting into him or her?

Although as noted in the comments, it is understandable to use a familiar role to "collect your bearings" and stabilise before moving up again.

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    I think I like that answer. You've had some exposure, and you had the courage to try, and you'd like to learn more and try again when you're more ready... and putting it that way in both the resume and in the interview should be a positive. (Dropping back to tech lead... I don't think it's unreasonable to say "I'd like to hire on in a role we know I'm good at, then move up once I've got a sense of this company's needs".)
    – keshlam
    Dec 8, 2014 at 15:18
  • The more I think about it the more I agree with this answer. However, in an interview it doesn't matter what I think, it's what they think. If I can't actually get a job because of this issue, then I will have to reconsider if it goes on the resume. But hopefully it won't come to that! Dec 9, 2014 at 15:23
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    @PowerApp101 unlike coding, leadership is about how you spin it. it isn't boolean (eg "does it compile", "does it work"), it is about spinning the story. This isn't to say you lie - you have to realise that what you're saying is true. And i believe it is - you were put in a rough role that you thought you were suitable for. You were wrong, but you had a learning experience. You know what you did wrong - you are now a better candidate for the role than you were when you took it. Express this honestly and earnestly, i think you'll be pleased at what the outcome is.
    – bharal
    Dec 9, 2014 at 16:21
  • Fair enough. I will let you all know how I go with my job applications! Dec 10, 2014 at 0:11
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    OP here, I thought I would update everyone. I put the 3 month role on my resume and I got an interview. During the interview they asked why I left after 3 months and I said pretty much what @bharal said above, i.e. the role was above my management skill level at that particular time. The interviewer said he understood and swiftly moved on. And...I got the job! Now, the caveat here is that my new role in strictly technical. If it was a Team Lead role there might have been issues. Mar 10, 2015 at 7:35

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