How to Explain Short-Term Employment That is On Your Resume

Does your resume include a past job that lasted for six months or less? Jobs with a shelf life this brief fall into the category of short-term employment. Unless you were fired from the job due to misconduct, it’s generally a good idea to include all of your past positions, no matter how short-lived. This way you won’t need to account for gaps in your work history. However, when including short-term employment, you may need to explain the brevity to a potential employer. This can be easy when you follow a few key strategies.

Your resume design can help

First, structure your resume so you can include in your work history the reason you left all of your past jobs. For example, if you organize the job title, dates employed and job description on the left-hand side of the page, include your reason for leaving the job on the right-hand side. This will give a quick snap shot to anyone reviewing your resume.

Explanations for leaving a job

Honesty is usually always the best policy. Consider including on your resume the following reasons for ending your employment:

  • You were a contract worker. If you were working freelance or with a temp agency, a short-term position can simply mean you were hired for a specified amount of time or specific project, and it reached its conclusion.
  • You accepted one or more travel assignments. As a healthcare professional, you may have completed one or more travel assignments as part of your career. Since travel assignments usually last for 13-26 weeks, they fall under the category of short-term employment. If you have a long list of travel positions under your belt, you may wish to create a section in your resume entitled Travel Employment that lists the time period you’ve been a travel healthcare professional and all the valuable experience you gained, rather than each individual assignment.
  • You were building your body of experience. If you were fresh out of college or in between jobs and looking for something new, maybe you accepted a position to test the water and it just wasn’t what you expected. It’s acceptable and admirable to tell a potential employer you gave a position your all but it was time to move on. This shows that you’re strong and smart enough to know what’s best for you.
  • You left for job growth or advancement. Let’s face it: many of us are not currently working our dream job. However, if that dream job suddenly popped up, many of us would want to jump on it, and that’s OK. Telling an employer that you left a job for career growth or job advancement is an acceptable explanation.
  • You were laid off or the company closed. Of course, if you lost your job simply because it—or the company—no longer existed, let your potential employer know.

Avoid the label of “job hopper”

If you have two or more short-term jobs in a row that are not travel assignments or contract work, an employer can become nervous that you’ll follow suit at his or her facility. If this is the case, you might consider leaving off one of your short-term jobs—after all, you must tell the truth when applying for a job, but omitting a detail does not constitute a lie. Another strategy is to get a longer-term position under your belt before you move on, which can be easy if you are still employed. Consider sticking around for just a little bit longer for the benefit of a stronger resume.

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