All experience is good experience, right?
Well, no. While you might have learned a lot from your two-week stint in customer service or the month you spent at a company before deciding it wasn’t the right fit, that doesn’t mean those positions belong on your resume. The first rule of resume writing is to only include something if it makes you a more appealing candidate — and in most cases, that means leaving short-term jobs off your resume.
How to decide what jobs to leave off your resume
Here are the questions you should be asking yourself when deciding whether or not to include a short-term job on your resume:
- Was the position designed to be short-term (e.g. seasonal or temp work)? If so, it can probably stay on.
- How long were you at the job? If it’s less than 6 months, consider leaving it off. If it was only a few weeks, definitely leave it off.
- Was the position relevant to the job you’re applying for now? If your only relevant experience was from a short-term job, you can consider leaving it on only if you can point to something you achieved in the role.
- Do you have any major accomplishments to show? If you were at the job less than 6 months, the answer is likely to be “no.”
- Does it fill a gap in your resume? In general, gaps shorter than 6 months aren’t likely to be a big deal, but if you worked on a few short-term jobs or side gigs during a longer gap, consider bundling that experience under a single heading.
What jobs to leave off your resume
Still not sure if your short-term job is a good fit for your resume or not? As a blanket rule, leave short-term jobs off your resume if:
- You held the job for less than 6 months
- You don’t have any relevant accomplishments to list
- The job was in a completely different role or industry
- It’s a much older position, e.g. part-time jobs from when you were a student or entry-level jobs when you’ve had significant experience since then
If you’re not sure how effective your short-term jobs are on your resume, upload it to the tool below — it’ll give you a detailed review of your jobs and accomplishments and suggest which ones to improve or remove.
Why you should leave short-term jobs off a resume
If you’re wondering where’s the harm in including short-term jobs on your resume, consider the following.
Listing too many short-term jobs on a resume can make you look like a job hopper
In general, you should be aiming for stays of at least 2-3 years in most jobs that you include. While one or two shorter positions is unlikely to raise any red flags, including mostly short-term jobs will make most hiring managers wonder if you’re likely to leave this job after only a few months, too.
Short-term jobs are unlikely to add anything on your resume
Remember that your resume isn’t a complete history of your professional experience, but rather a story about why you’re a good fit for this particular job. That means only including information that highlights relevant skills or accomplishments, which you’re unlikely to have developed in only a few months while you were still learning the ropes.
Should you include your current job on your resume?
If you’ve only been at your current job for a few months, you generally shouldn’t include it on your resume. Leaving a job after a few weeks or even months is likely to raise red flags about why you’re leaving so soon. Were you fired? Did you quit? Is the same thing going to happen if you get this job? In most cases, it’s better to leave it off entirely, since most recruiters are unlikely to care about a resume gap of less than 6 months.
The exception to this is if you have a major enough accomplishment that it’s worth the trade-off. In this case, be prepared to give a short explanation of why you’re leaving if you get to the interview stage — not on your resume. It’s okay to mention that the position was a bad fit or that it focused on X when you’re looking for Y (when Y is something you’d be doing in the new role), but stay away from discussing interpersonal conflicts or badmouthing your current company.
When to keep a short-term job on your resume
Leaving short term jobs off your resume isn’t a hard and fast rule. There are some exceptions when it’s appropriate to include a short-term job on your resume:
- Seasonal jobs, especially if you’re still studying and worked full-time over the summer
- Contract work
- Temp work
- Any other position that was explicitly designed to be short-term
If you’ve held more than one or two contract or temporary positions, you can list these under a single header on your resume to keep things organized and avoid the appearance of job hopping.
For more examples and alternative ways of listing short-term positions on your resume, check out The Right Way To List Contract Work on Your Resume.
Short-term jobs on a resume vs job application
So, does this mean you should leave a short-term job off your application, too? Not necessarily.
As a job seeker, you can do whatever you like with your resume (short of lying), including leaving off information if it isn’t relevant, doesn’t help your candidacy, or you’d rather keep it private.
Some job applications, on the other hand, may ask for a complete job history. In that case, you should include every job you’ve ever held on a job application — even the very short-term ones.
That doesn’t mean you need to go back and put those jobs on your resume. You’re unlikely to need to explain leaving jobs off your resume, but if you’re asked about the difference between your resume and application, here’s a simple script you can use:
“I wanted to focus on more relevant experience on my resume, for example my [X years of experience / relevant skill set / recent accomplishment].”