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I have been working as an engineer for about 8 years now professionally. My first job out of college lasted about 6 years and my second ran about 2 and a half. I've left both on good terms. The job that I just took was with someone I thought I knew to be good to work with (he founded his own company) and wanted me to join him as his right hand man. However, it's become clear in the two months I've been here this isn't going to work out; he seems to expect things that I can't do this early on and seems very upset with me. Except for this one mistake I have a good track record, though I do feel like going back to my last job is going to be strange and uncomfortable (people will ask: why are you back?)

My question is, when I talk to head hunters and new companies, should I even mention this position? I made the mistake of updating my LinkedIn with this already, so most people already in my network have seen. Is honesty the best policy here or should I go back and pull down my profile? If I should tell them, how do you phrase it to them in a way that says that I took a career risk that didn't work out?

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    How about "I took a career risk that didn't work out."? – Patricia Shanahan Aug 31 '16 at 14:22
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    I wouldn't worry about it too much. "It wasn't a good fit" and "startup" explain it pretty well. – aaron Aug 31 '16 at 14:23
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    when you put the word startup and "different expectations" people will understand and not question more I presume. But if you are worried about bad connotation you can leave it as a gap and when asked, you can say something like taking personal time off for some family matter. Either way would be fine. – MelBurslan Aug 31 '16 at 14:26
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My question is, when I talk to head hunters and new companies, should I even mention this position? Is honesty the best policy here or should I go back and pull down my profile? If I should tell them, how do you phrase it to them in a way that says that I took a career risk that didn't work out?

Yes. Honesty is virtually always the best policy. And honesty spares you the embarrassment of having to explain why you were dishonest, should you be found out.

You aren't required to include all of your jobs on your resume, but omitting it means that you either have a gap in your resume, or you are intentionally misleading a potential employer about the job before your current job. Both of these would be awkward to explain should you be questioned.

You have explained your desire to leave in your question. Saying "it's become clear in the two months I've been here this isn't going to work out; he seems to expect things that I can't do this early on and seems very upset with me" is powerful, and certainly something that can be understood by recruiters and hiring managers. This is particularly true given that your background doesn't show a long list of short-term jobs.

Be honest about it. Interviewers will appreciate your honesty and your ability to intelligently reflect on a gig that didn't go as planned (something that eventually happens to all of us). Your integrity and reputation will be intact. And you'll sleep better at night.

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    Agreed, it is much easier to be honest about it. Your response is very good, thank you. – John Doe Aug 31 '16 at 18:05
  • There is nothing that needs to be hidden in a situation like this. You went into an early stage company expecting one things and discovering that it would be something else. Not having this proper fit and deciding to move on rather than stick around and have that time damage both yourself and the company would be counter productive. – Shackledtodesk Oct 28 '16 at 22:03
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I suspect your question may get marked as a duplicate since there are many questions at Workplace from people with concerns about short stints at jobs. But the fact that it is asked so often is a sign it's a real issue people deal with, so I'm sure it's something that recruiters likewise have seen and should understand exists.

I think in your case honesty is the best policy. As many of the good comments suggested, there is nothing wrong with saying you took a shot on an opportunity that didn't work out, especially since you can back up your reliability with two prior long term jobs.

By the way, I think it's good you've learned an important lesson relatively early. Social relationships and working relationships don't always intersect. I had a situation like yours once too, where I went to work for a guy that I got along with socially but once I got there he turned out to be a different person. I stuck it out for a year before moving on, but there is no right or wrong answer on how long you should stay. Sometimes if you're going to leave anyway, sooner is better.

  • Also a good point, I'll make sure it doesn't happen again. – John Doe Aug 31 '16 at 15:18
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Usually, if there is just one occurence like that in your resume, recruiters will understand. With 2 years-long employments before, it's something that can be easily sold in interview.

It's a one-shot gun, though. Accumulate several of those, and your resume will become to smell "instability". But the first one should be sellable as an accident to most recruiters. Some commenters have provided excellent ways to sell this one-time-incident-that-won't-happen-again.

  • Great response, I feel silly for not asking here before taking the job. – John Doe Aug 31 '16 at 15:17
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  1. Always have an explanation for why you left your last position.
  2. Never leave a gap in your resume--it can be interpreted as:
    • in jail/prison (maybe that 2 months was a DUI sentence?)
    • unemployable
    • lazy / unmotivated
    • out-of-date skills
    • unexpectedly fired from last position

It sounds like you partnered with someone who you had reason to believe would found a great company, and then you quickly realized you were wrong. You are now correcting that. Avoid explanations like "crazy hours" and "too much work" because hiring managers / HR folks will assume that will apply to their positions as well.

  • I didn't realize it could be misinterpreted that way, thanks for pointing that out. – John Doe Aug 31 '16 at 18:04
  • Yeah, my wife had a programmer take a 90-day leave a few years ago to "take care of an ailing parent in Spain." (We're in California.) What a guy, right? He came back to work and a week later she gets a call from his probation officer, asking if he had told her he was serving a 90-day jail sentence for embezzling from his previous employer. "We weren't transferring $$ from the bank to our account, we were testing software!" What a guy, huh? – Nolo Problemo Sep 1 '16 at 18:04

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