Resume Technique: Four Rules for Listing Short-Term Jobs

Last Updated May 22, 2010 5:56 PM EDT

If you've been in the modern workforce a while, chances are good you've changed companies a few times in your career. Furthermore, some of those stints may have been short ones, for a variety of reasons: You found a better opportunity, the fit wasn't right or your new employer suffered a reversal of fortune, to name a few.

So how does an honest job seeker handle short stints on his resume? Is it OK to leave them out, or does disclosure compel him to list them all and risk looking like a job-hopper?

In an article titled "How to Handle Short-Term Jobs in Your Resume Work History," Lisa Vaas quotes certified resume writer Steve Burdan, who offers four rules of thumb:

  • If a given job lasted less than six months, you can leave it off of your resume.
  • If a given job fits into your recent past, i.e. the past year or two, and it lasted six to 12 months, you must put the job description into your Work History section.
  • For jobs that lasted six to 12 months and are buried in your past work chronology, leave them off.
  • If a job last at least 12 months, you should put it on your resume.
There are exceptions to these rules, Burdan says, including packaging together short contract gigs into a separate "Contract Experience" section; combining jobs older than 15 years under "Previous Experience"; and compacting short, rapid moves within the same company into a single narrative.

And of course, if you accomplished great things during a short engagement and can quantify the ROI, even a brief tenure may be worth listing.

  • Matthew TheLadders

    Matthew Rothenberg is editor-in-chief for TheLadders, the world's leading online service catering exclusively to the $100K+ job market. In addition to traditional job search services, TheLadders.com also provides a host of specialized career development resources. Previously he worked at Ziff Davis Media, ZDNet, CNET, and Hachette Filipacchi.