Question Proposed on LinkedIn: The two-month contract that did not work out. Include or do not include on resume and job application? Hello all. I am working with a professional client who was hired for a contracting gig that did not work out. She worked on it for the months of July and August and then was told that it was wrapped up. It was not a good experience for her and she would like to leave it off her resume. However, if job applications require that all past jobs be noted, does this job therefore need to be on the resume? Or can it be skipped on the application?

Others’ Responses:

– Hi, there’s no law or rule I know off that ALL past jobs must be on your resume. As for “job applications” are you talking about a fill-in-the blank sort of thing for a company? In the case of the resume, the question to ask is whether the temp contract job will help her or hurt her if you list it. It might help if it bolsters her experience in her desired field. You simply list it something like this: PARKING MANAGER (Short-Term Contract Position) and follow with the usual bullets, etc. The potential for hurt is if the person reading the resume decides to contact the contracting company and gets a bad reference. As for filling out a basic job application, I guess the only thing to do is again, note that the job was a short-term contract. Maybe others will give you a different perspective.

– In this case, the two-month contract will hurt her. If a company’s job application requires you to list all employers, is it ever ok to skip an employer? If she leaves it off and the company somehow finds out she worked a two-month contract, could she be accused of lying on the application?

– In view of the circumstances, I would leave it off the resume. It adds no value and may be perceived negatively. She will need to include it on applications. Her job, then, is to prepare and practice a perfectly reasonable explanation if she’s asked about it. Something like, “I selected only the most relevant information for my resume, due to space considerations. This particular job was short-term and therefore did not add a lot of value to my experience. But of course I’m happy to discuss it if you wish.” The key is to be concise, clear, and non-defensive.  You can work with her on this explanation. It is much more likely her poor reaction to the question will harm her rather than the facts of the situation!

– Again – it sounds like we’re taking about two different things: resumes and an online or paper job application – right? As to the latter, I think she can leave it off and use Louise’s strategy should the job come up. “It was such a short-term thing that i didn’t really count is as a job. It didn’t seem relevant, but I’ll be happy to tell you about it if you like.

– I think being inconsistent is tricky (including information on the application and not on the resume). If the inconsistency is identified early on by a recruiter or hiring manager, it may throw a wrench into even getting the interview.

– Did she learn new skills and or build upper level references…? In today’s day and age many exceptional consultants only work 2 month gigs

– In this climate of pervasive joblessness and economic uncertainty, a gap in employment is certainly better than anything that can overtly hurt a candidate’s chances. It became almost ‘normal’ to see gaps in employment over the last few years was a hiring manager.

– Hello all and thank you for your comments. I also reached out to a colleague in HR for her take on this situation. Bottom line: it appears that it is a non-issue to not include this unproductive and potentially negative 2-month job off of the application, which means that she can leave it off the resume. For what it is worth, I know of a situation from many years ago where a three month position listed on the application but not on the resume created a red flag and may have cost the candidate the position.

– If a gig was for 6 months, you probably have to include it, particularly if it was in the past couple of years or so. You don’t have to disclose that it was a bummer. You only need to summarise what you were engaged to do, what you did and what, if anything of value you contributed. Although I would wonder about an organisation who would keep a contractor on board for as long as 6 months if they were not ‘working out’. I would have thought that if someone was not working out, that would become clear after a month or two.

– A good rule of thumb for the timeframe question is ~6 months. That said, if you opt to exclude it and there are more than one of these in any 3-5 year period, any seasoned hiring manager (and, I suspect, most ATSs) will pick up on the larger underlying issue – multiple gaps in employment. People naturally can’t help wondering why this occurred, how you paid your bills, and if you’re reliable having been unemployed multiple times during such a short span. Just human nature. Good discussion. Interesting points. Thanks to all for that.

– Remember… Applications are legal documents and resumes are marketing documents. Real world is that interviews are generally based upon resumes that allows the individual the opportunity to tell the whole story. The contract consulting gig of two months is a mere footnote in this person’s experience and won’t show up on the resume. However if the candidate is hired they are required by HR ( in most cases) to complete an application and at that time a hiring decision has been made. The two month contractual position is small potatoes and most professionals will take contract position when unemployed just to keep our skills up and income rolling in. The position is a minor footnote and the likelihood of it becoming an issue is remote. It certainly is better to list it on the application than to have the "Sword of Damocles” hang over your head day and night… Not the way I want to live my life.

– This is a tricky situation. I have consulted for companies that have rescinded job offers because applicants were not honest on the job application – the online job application, not just the onboarding documents. Advice from one HR person really isn’t a good representation of the entire hiring industry. To make a full recommendation, more information would be helpful such as the industry. In IT, a 2 month contract wouldn’t be a red flag and it is easy to create a few bullet points, explain it as a temp assignment and that the assignment came to an end. Done. A few more points that I’d have to consider:  Where does your resume client live? small or large town/city? Does she work in an industry that is small and people know one another? Has she told the entire world that her assignment didn’t work out and she was let go? Did she post it on social media? Did she add any value to the assignment while she was there? Does she have gaps in her career history and/or other short term assignments? Is this a pattern in her career history? Does your client feel like she is lying if it is left off of her resume? As Stephen mentioned above, having it hang over your head isn’t a pleasant way to live. If she feels like it is lying, then add it, and give her some talking points about it. She will feel more confident and sleep better. This isn’t a career ender, but being worried about it can negatively affect her and that can harm her confidence and career.

– One thing to keep in mind, if her new prospective employer (assuming this is in the US) runs a background check on her, part of that is typically a SSN verification which includes who has paid her against that SSN, so that employer may show up, which would put her in a very difficult situation to explain. She might leave it off a resume but needs to put it on an application, IMO.

– In the UK the time frame is 6 weeks or less is worthy of being noted on your CV and a trial period is any number of weeks up to 13 when at such point the employer must give you a contract. Depending on other circumstances it is possible to miss something off a CV but you must have something in its place such as a course of study. However, when it comes to an application form you can not miss anything off as what the employers are looking for is continuity of employment or training. Entitlement to benefits can be affected by contracts finishing early or through the clients own choosing.

My Response:

– A two month contract will only hurt on an application/resume. Skip it. Period. Unless it’s something like a first time gig or your ONLY real world experience to what you’re targeting, than please leave it off!

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