I'm about to begin working on my old résumé which has been gathering dust for some years. With a fresh look at the things I find myself willing to get rid of some of the old items I believe to be no longer of any value. I'd like however a second opinion on that. I'm planning to be looking for a position in Europe soon, so I'm primarily interested in the opinion of the people doing hiring for European companies.
The question I have concerns my first three jobs after graduating from a university in Moscow, Russia over a decade ago. Those were relatively short and really inconsequential. I'm going to briefly describe them so that you know why I feel the way I feel about them.
Job #1. Got hired by a small shop doing various web-related projects, mostly for the gambling industry, which has now been outlawed in most of the civilized jurisdictions, but was not at the time these events were unfolding. I spent some 4-6 months with them. During that period the company managed to change their location three times moving around the city, so that when I joined them it was the office #1 and when I was there for the last time it was already the office #4. From what I remember from those years, virtually all of the software shops were hiding their whereabouts from the authorities and also hiring strictly off-record, so as not to attract the wrong kind of attention and not to invite some thugs extorting protection money from them. So I was getting a small salary in cash, just only covering my commuting expenses. I did write some code and even built a small tool for them which they used in production, but on the balance I haven't accomplished anything there, haven't learned much (just some socket programming) and always considered this period to be a waste of my time. Also no official record of me being with them can be provided.
Job #2. Got hired by a local branch of an American company which apparently outsourced its development work to a cheaper location. Was mislead by a hiring guy just about everything. Spent 2 months there getting increasingly frustrated with the reality not matching the promises. It ended with two senior guys having a feast fight over a disagreement about their attitude to doing work. Decided to leave before I would find myself on the receiving side of the blows. Got paid but from what I understand again off-record, with no taxes paid on my behalf. Very much doubt anyone would confirm me being there. Learned nothing there, accomplished nothing, but worked with the Fourier analysis, which did impress an interviewer later (on exactly one occasion).
Job #3. Was definitely better. I got hired to lead a project development. Don't laugh just yet, Moscow companies have always loved exploiting students any way they could, to save on paying experienced pros. Worked for several months off-record then they pushed through paperwork and I got my first official experience recorded, for a duration of about 6 months. This latter part can be confirmed through official records. I did build something but not completely (was overwhelmed with the amount of work which should have been done by a large team) and finally got burnt out and left.
Now come the questions. Should I even mention the first two jobs in my CV, given they are not verifiable and the first one would now seem almost illegal? And what with the third one? Should I mention the entire period of being with them or just the second, official part? I've already submitted this official experience to the authorities on several occasions so I'd like for the things to match.
To understand why this bothers me now, you need to take into account my current position. After those brief jobs I had some respectable items in my CV. I studied and worked abroad and have currently grown to become the founder of a startup of mine (launching soon). When I look back at those first jobs, they now seem like a joke not worth the ink on the paper. I'd like my new résumé to be all respectable and official, so that any employment can be verified and confirmed. I can achieve that if I drop my first two jobs and leave only the second half of the third one. Except for one instance, I do not recall these temporary jobs ever being a point of a serious discussion, so I might just as well drop them, nothing will be lost.
On the other hand, I'm going to mention my personal projects too and most of them are no longer publicly available (was a long time ago), so I can't give a proof for them either. But at least I won't be making a claim in relation to a third party which may or may not confirm my association with them and could potentially make me look a liar, which I wish to avoid.
So what do you think? As a hiring manager would you be troubled if you saw a period of about one year after my graduation during which I was apparently doing nothing? I was thinking of mentioning studying some programming technologies and improving on my English skills, both of which I actually did, just not the entire time. Would it be a reasonable explanation for that missing time?
Thanks for reading this through.