Presenting Your Work History


Most careers have changes, set-backs, breaks, and new starts. How you present this information to a prospective employer can impact your candidacy. For example, show too much history on your resume and you may be screened out of the process. Digging deep to show valuable accomplishments in a recent job can elevate you to the next level. Falsify your application could cost you the job. Each job search is unique and every hiring employer has specific criteria. However, there are a few standards you can follow to enhance your job search.

Work History on a Resume & Your LinkedIn Profile

Your resume is a marketing document to present you for a particular target job. The entire resume should focus on that target. You are wise to showcase your experience (paid and unpaid), education, certifications, and skills that are recent and relevant. It is perfectly acceptable (and recommended) to only show your most recent work history and omit very early positions, unrelated short-term positions, and other information that does not support your goal. Although you can omit information on a resume, everything that you list on your resume should be completely truthful.

Career Break on a Resume

An extended career break to raise a family or care for an ill family member is fairly common. It is helpful to include a brief career break statement to explain the break to the reader. The following is an example of such a statement:

Career Break (2006 – 2015) Elected to take hiatus from career to raise my children. Now that my children are older and more independent, I am eager to return to a full-time challenging career.

During that extended break, it may necessary to take a short-term job for various reasons, including financial reasons. Even if you worked in a part-time job periodically or helped a prior employer as a consultant on a multi-week project during this extended break, you would show the break as one period of time.

Work History on an Employment Application

Read the application carefully so you understand what is requested. Most applications include language similar to this: "I certify that information contained in this application is true and complete" or "I certify that I have not purposely withheld any information that might adversely affect my chances for hiring." False information can cost you the job opportunity or result in termination if the company discovers the omission. A comprehensive background check or employment verification could reveal the omission. Career experts generally advise candidates to list all paid jobs on a job application for the period of time the hiring employer requests.

Employment Application Grey Areas

Some employers may find it acceptable for the applicant to omit part-time or short-term jobs on the application. If you are considering omitting something from the application, take steps to protect your candidacy. To ensure you are not misleading, ask the HR representative before submitting the application.

The Bottom Line

Honesty is the best policy. Everything on your resume should be accurate. However, it is not necessary to include everything on the resume. Select and showcase aspects of your history that communicate the value you bring to the target job. An employment application is a signed account of your history and should provide all information requested. If you are unclear about a paid job that you wish to omit, seek clarification from the HR representative.

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