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Decoding social media for a first-time job seeker

BY SAMANTHA NOLAN Modified: September 27, 2012 at 11:41 am •  Published: September 28, 2012

Dear Sam: I have had several jobs over 10 years, including 2 in the past 2 years, and have been receiving feedback that I have too many jobs and too many gaps in employment. If I don't include all of my jobs, it looks like I am hiding something; if I do include everything, it really looks bad. What do I do? – David

Dear David: A résumé is a strategic picture of what you have done which positions you for what you now want to do. Very different from an employment application—which typically requires the disclosure of all roles—a résumé affords you the ability to be somewhat selective in what you include and omit. Once you omit months in your dates with each employer, a cleaner picture will emerge. Often the omission of months allows the rather clean exclusion of short-term and unrelated positions, not to mention near elimination of the appearance of employment gaps. For example, if you were out of work from January 2010 until December 2011 and you include months and years, potential employers will see a rather large gap in employment. If you omit months of employment, you end one position in 2010 and pick up another in 2011. While one would have to assume you ended one engagement in December and started the other in January, it at least closes the gap and removes a potential disqualifier. If you held multiple short-term and unrelated roles during that time out of your career, you can omit those from your résumé without fear of retribution. Hiring managers understand that your résumé is not a narrative of everything you have ever done, so don’t worry about being seen as “hiding” something. As I mentioned, an employment application is a very different animal, but let’s hope most of the positions you apply for are résumé- and not application-driven. Best of luck.