Clustering Short-Term Jobs on Your Resume

Written by Editor on . Posted in Advice Columns

“Ron” has great credentials — he has excellent degrees, and has worked for top-notch employers. Two years ago, however, despite his excellent performance and through no fault of his own, Ron’s employer terminated him. Since then, Ron has taken on several short-term gigs; they keep his income flowing and keep him active.

Should he list these gigs on his resume, or be left with a two-years-and-growing “hole” since the end of his previous long-term job?

There are three possible solutions to this conundrum. Two of them have significant shortcomings, but the third solution addresses both shortcomings.

Solution #1: Leave his resume as is and explain the hole during an interview.

Solution #2: List each gig by itself. But doing so can create an appearance problem — he may appear to be a job-hopper, someone who held several jobs over a short period of time.

Job-hopping “can raise concerns with recruiters,” according to Tom Lovett, president of an executive search firm in Dayton, Ohio. “Job-hopping may be a sign of poor interpersonal skills and lack of performance,” he said.

Ron could try to avoid this issue by specifying that the gigs were short-term contracts, but busy recruiters may not review his resume carefully enough to learn that.

Solution #3: Create an employment block that accommodates multiple short-term gigs. This approach means there are no unexplained gaps in employment and it also avoids the appearance of job-hopping:

 

 

IT Executive, Kemp Mill Consulting

October 2016 to present

Provide IT consulting services, including infrastructure design

and software implementation, for health-care companies

ABC Health Care Network

Accomplishment 1

Accomplishment 2

XYZ Associates

Accomplishment 1

Accomplishment 2

JKL Care Group

Accomplishment 1

Accomplishment 2

 

The “clustering” approach can also work for an early-career worker. Our client Sue had secured her first “real” job, with substantial IT responsibilities. Before that, she had worked for three summers, performing similar lower-level IT tasks at each company.

To save space and avoid repetition, she could cluster the summer jobs into one employment block. Here’s what this could look like:

Summer IT Intern (Summers 2015-2017)

PQR Consulting, Baltimore,
MD (2017)

Green Acres High School,
Reisterstown, MD (2016)

Stunned Ox Mattress Factory, Dundalk, MD (2015)

 

Representative accomplishments:

 Accomplishment 1

Accomplishment 2

Accomplishment 3

 

By David Marwick for KempMillJobAssist

 


David Marwick is KempMillJobAssist’s workshop coordinator. He studied economics at George Washington University and worked as an economist for George Washington University and the U.S. Government Accountability Office.