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How Do I Handle Job History When I Don't Want to Include Every Job?

by Lise
(New Hampshire, US)

I have a pretty impressive work history overall. But this past year, I left my long term employment (8 yrs) as an educational assistant to become a teacher at a residential school. After 2 1/2 wks I realized I could not do it and I left.

Then I got a job at a well known preschool program and after 2 1/2 months, I had to leave. There was a personality conflict and they were going to fire me and they also told me my "best" wasn't good enough.

So due to the stress, I left. Now I'm wondering how do I list these past 2 jobs on my resume? Can I just pretend they don't exist? I definitely don't want any prospective employers talking to those places.

I even had a question on an application asking me if I ever quit a job because they were going to fire me. Do I just lie?

Comments for How Do I Handle Job History When I Don't Want to Include Every Job?

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Jan 27, 2009
This Is a Tricky One
by: Kathi

Lise, you present an interesting dilemma. On the one hand, I can understand why you would want to avoid opening the door to discussions with your most recent employers. On the other hand, employment gaps send up red flags too.

So, which way is it best to go? Well, I have to start by saying, "It depends." I think a lot depends on your record in the teaching assistant job you held for 8 years. If it was stellar and you can get letters of recommendation or count on references to that effect, then I doubt it will matter too much what's happened in the last 3 months.

On the other hand, if your performance at that job was not top notch or you left under negative circumstances, then it might be best to not mention what you've been doing since. You could say you took some time off between jobs to figure out what direction to take your career in or something along those lines.

As to whether you should lie if the question is asked directly either on an application or in an interview, I could never advise you to lie. Lies have a way of coming back to haunt us when least expected. What if a former employer happens to know a prospective employer and your name comes up? You're going to look a lot worse for lying then you will for trying to put a positive spin on recent events, while being completely honest.

I have to tell you, though, what's been going on in the past 3 months for you makes me wonder, and I think you should be prepared for questions from employers too. Here are some of my questions... why did you leave a job you'd held for so long? Did you put thought into the move or just act on a whim? Why did you have to leave the first new job? Why could you not do it? Just not a good fit or did you need more training/skills? Is there anything you could have done to "save" the job?

And how about the so-called personality conflict at the second new job? What led to that and could anything have prevented or resolved it in a more productive way? Are you yourself going through some kind of crisis currently that is contributing to your employment issues?

I'm not trying to be judgmental or harsh; just to help you face realistically what you are up against. I do think, though, if you have taken the time to consider your mistakes and what you have learned from them going forward, and then you are open and honest with a prospective employer, you will probably be OK. But do make your next job decision carefully, won't you?

To your success,

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